That’s why, although I’ve come in only for a consultation, I soon hear myself saying, “Bring on the numbing cream!” A nurse snaps “before” photos, hands me four pills (two prednisone to prevent swelling, two Valtrex to combat latent herpes) and covers my face with anesthetic gel. An hour later, Anolik is zapping me with the Gemini to sizzle broken capillaries, the V-beam to incinerate my skin’s “pink background” (i.e., diffuse red pigment) and the Ruby to erase coffee drips. He finishes with the Fraxel Dual all over, which stings like I’m caught in a sandstorm. He warns me that I’ll be “a little pink” for two days.
As I head back to my office (how did I forget I was hosting the More holiday lunch?), my face tingles. Ducking into the bathroom, I notice my features are starting to pucker, and I look vaguely Muppetish. Though my assistant, Daniela, says my face is fine (liar!), I duck out of the party before dessert. That night my skin turns coppery-red. Anolik said I’d be “a little pink.” Is he color-blind? And I worry about how I’ll look the next day, when I’m scheduled to lunch with media mogul Arianna Huffington; we’d chased each other’s calendars for months, and it’s too late to cancel.
I awaken to what looks and feels like windburn on top of a sunburn. I pile on the foundation I save for TV appearances and play up my eye makeup to divert attention from my embarrassing skin. At lunch Arianna is kind enough to pretend that “you don’t look as bad as you think,” but when I meet a close friend for dinner, she blurts, “What have you done to your face?!” My skin has now turned into black pepper and is flaking off into my pasta. My friends and I wonder if I’ve gone one beauty adventure too far: After the pepper falls off, I see gray stripes—tracks the Dual left behind as it crossed my cheeks. I look as if I’ve been backed over by a truck.
Two days later, however, something wondrous happens. The gentle vibrations of my Clarisonic Mia Sonic Skin Cleansing brush ($119; clarisonic.com) loosen the last of the sandpapery remains, and I can’t believe what I see: skin as clear and luminous as a newborn’s butt. Though my goal was to look better, not younger, my husband says I’ve shaved 12 years from my face. And after a meeting with a new colleague, I hear through the grapevine that she remarked on my “gorgeous skin.” No one said that even when I was 25! If I’d paid thousands of dollars for my new clear complexion, I’d feel it was worth every penny—even if I do now have to slather on SPF 50 daily and avoid direct sun. My skin no longer needs to be buried under heavy foundation, and some might even call it my best feature.
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