Skin Laundry NYC Review
May 3, 2015 § Leave a comment
I first read about Skin Laundry right before they opened in Flatiron; it was also right around the time I was lamenting the lack of high-tech skin solutions in the U.S. (or just New York?). It seemed like Asian countries have new treatments popping up all the time — Thermage, IPL, etc. — whereas Americans were content to stick with our drugstore brands while glomming on to Korean fads and occasionally getting high-end facials* if you’re rich.
Even if these new-age treatments are available in the States, I feel like they’re so rarely written about or treated as a regular part of the skincare regimen. It’s simply a different culture.
Anyway, I was mostly ready to jump on Skin Laundry’s wagon. The company, which started in LA, offers only one treatment: the signature 10-minute laser facial. In short, you get two doses of lasers to clean out your pores, then one dose of IPL (intense pulsed light) to even skin tone and stimulate collagen.
I was skeptical at first because every review I read about Skin Laundry sounded like effusive advertorial. The Yelp reviews for their other locations were marginally more helpful. The only semi-skeptical piece I could find about it was on LATimes.
Still, I went ahead and tried it, mostly because I managed to get my first treatment free when I RSVPed to their grand opening in March.
When you go in, they give you a makeup wipe to remove any face makeup (you can leave eye and lip makeup intact). Then you’re led into a room and lie on a comfy bed while they wrap your hairline and place those little tanning goggles over your eyes. The RN comes in and verifies your birthdate and inquires about any facial scars or current medications.
Then the lasers! The machine is hidden behind a sliding door (that way two rooms can share one machine) so I’ve never actually seen them, but I guess they look like this. The first few times were definitely weird, but eventually I got used to it. I would describe the sensation as little machine gun rounds of heat: pewpewpewpew on my face. The nurse always goes over my face twice with the laser.
Yes, there is a slight, strange burning smell. They say it’s the fragrance of the gunk in your pores being obliterated. Mmmmmm…
Does it hurt? Not really. There are certain parts of my face where the laser seems to zap a bit harder, but it feels like a fleeting pinch and any burning sensations are soothed right away when she applies cooling gel in preparation for the IPL. This is a very bright light that they use on every inch of your face. It feels like a camera flash going off right on your skin; even with my eyes closed under the goggles, I can still see it.
Then the nurse leaves and someone else comes in to clean the gel off your face, apply toner and moisturizer with SPF, and you’re done!
So far, I’ve gone in for five treatments at the rate of about once every two weeks. My skin was slightly red for 20 minutes after the first time, but subsequent treatments have required no downtime at all — I leave fresh-faced as can be. And the whole thing only takes about 20 minutes in and out.
I altered my normal skincare routine right around the time I started going to Skin Laundry, so I’m not sure which to credit, but I will say that I’ve experienced less breakouts (almost zero) since starting my treatments. My skin tone is even and generally problem-free. Longer-term issues like pore size and blackheads is hard to quantify (those seem to fluctuate by the hour sometimes lol), but the bottom line is, I like Skin Laundry and I can afford it, so I’m going to keep using it!
That said…here are some ways I think they improve:
1. Skin Laundry needs a better way of managing bookings. After my first free treatment, I bought the new members’ introductory package, which was $150 for three treatments. Then I signed up for the monthly membership (three months minimum required) of one treatment per month for $65, with any extra treatments an additional $50 a pop.
I carefully keep track of how many I’ve paid for because it’s my money, but when I’ve gone in the past two times, I’ve had to correct the receptionist on how many treatments I have left. I don’t think they’re trying to rip me off on purpose, but they do need a better system for organizing what has been paid for or used.
2. The disadvantage of popping in and out of a quick treatment is that you don’t build the same rapport with the staff as you would with, say, your hairstylist. And sometimes I’ll interact with up to four different people in the span of one treatment — receptionist, person who preps me, nurse who administers treatment, person who cleans me off afterward — plus half the time I have my eyes covered!
That’s just the way it is. My complaint is that I wish we could all recognize that I’m just here to get my face lasered and not trying to catch up over happy hour, so please stop being so American and trying to make small talk with me, because more likely than not we’ll just end up having the same conversation every week because we don’t remember each other.
It’s also super awkward when I can hear the nurse in the other room laughing and chatting it up with whomever she’s working on over there, then when she comes over to me, it’s just perfunctory questions (are you from New York, how long have you been here, how did you hear about us, etc.) that go nowhere, like I’m the high school outcast you’ve been forced to be partners with for an assignment.** Besides, isn’t it better for me to keep my face completely still while you’re pointing lasers at it?!
Anyway. The DISLIKES section looks long, but none of them are dealbreakers, I promise!
In addition to its facials, Skin Laundry has a line of skincare products. I bought a set of masks ($48 for five), which are the paper sheets that you drape over your face for ~30 minutes. As expected, the masks are a better fit for J’s, uh, more angular(?) white-person face than for my flat Chinese face (Korean masks are usually the opposite). They’re more creamy than drippy and also have a strange tingling sensation that J did not like. I’ll stick to my TonyMoly and Hada Labo masks, which are cheaper and fit my face better!
*Having tried my share of ~typical~ facials, from free upscale treatments in Hong Kong (#internperks) to the Encore Spa in Las Vegas, I would say that it’s not worth spending $$$ for someone to slather nice products all over my face once in a blue moon when I could use that $$$ to buy the actual products and use them every day. For me, daily/regular maintenance is key.
**That’s not to say the staff aren’t friendly; I just hate small talk.