First a nurse positions a steamer over my face, just as a facialist would.
After 20 humid minutes, I’m rosy and sweaty, and Brandt wheels in the Isolaz
machine, which looks like something you’d use in an alien abduction. He puts on
protective goggles and approaches me with a hose that has an attachment very
much like the kind I use to suck dust off my drapes. But true to his promise,
the procedure doesn’t hurt. It takes less than 10 minutes and feels kind of
like little electric hickeys all over my face. Afterward my skin is red and
irritated, and Brandt tells me to use a special cream from his own line for
post-laser calming. He also tells me to use his Poreless Cleanser, two
prescription topical medications, moisturizing lotion, and sunscreen in the
morning. I ask him if he's joking. He isn’t.
I assume that nobody really follows a regimen this intense, so I wait for
the redness to wear off and my skin to become magically, flawlessly clear.
(I’ve been to Madonna’s dermatologist! Surely I deserve to be acne-free.) I use
Brandt’s products, but I neglect to get the two prescriptions filled. Days turn
into weeks, and still I am a pizza face. My high hopes start sputtering.
Finally, I fill the prescriptions and start dutifully cleansing, applying my
Clindagel, then my sodium sulfacetamide lotion, then moisturizer, then
sunscreen every single morning and repeating the whole thing every night (minus
the sunscreen). By the time my next Isolaz appointment rolls around, I am as
zitty as ever but much more frustrated.
“Everyone’s skin is different!” Brandt replies brightly when I ask him if my
complexion should be clearing up yet. He then proceeds to suction and
light-pulse my face. The results the second time are just as disappointing as
they were the first. On any given day, I have at least one colossal pimple on
my face, and now in addition to the time I spend meticulously dotting on
oil-free concealer, I am also layering on what feels like 400 other potions. My
mother is right: Vanity is for fools.