It Stings But Your Skin Will Glow

“You didn’t come here for a pleasant spa experience, did you?” Dr Stephen Mulholland laughs as he closely examines the sun spots and fine lines on my face. And what comes next is definitely something you won’t get in a cosy atmosphere with Enya streaming in the background.

I’m lucky that I have great skin (thanks Mum and Dad!) but I work at it. Daily sunscreen year round and regular FotoFacials at SpaMedica help keep it soft and smooth with minimal spots and fine lines. I’m a former Beauty Editor so I’ve heard all kinds of spin but this really works.

Dr Mulholland starts to zap

I’m at SpaMedica in Toronto for my bi-annual FotoFacial, a non-surgical treatment (no needles or scalpels) that uses a combination of Intense Pulsed Light (IPL), Infrared (IR) Laser and /or Radiofrequency (RF) in the same pulse. I’ve been seeing Dr Mulholland (I call him Dr Steve) for the past decade to keep my skin looking in prime shape. He developed the FotoFacial procedure which is now the most commonly performed light-based skin rejuvenator in the world. It stings like hell in some parts but it helps stimulate the production of my complexion’s collagen – and that makes all the difference.

Gel is applied before the zapping starts

The first step is a thin application of a white cream that helps to numb my skin for what’s to come. After half an hour, Dr Steve returns, applies a gel and then uses a laser to zap my sun spots. It feels like a series of white hot elastic band snaps to my face – not a big deal on my soft cheeks but an eye-watering poke along my nose and chin. He chats away in an attempt to distract me but I’m just counting down the minutes until its over. The procedure lasted about five minutes this time but can go longer at the end of summer when I have more pigmentation patches. Many people get the procedure on their hands, neck and chest as well.

A no-makeup selfie an hour later at home

When I leave SpaMedica, my skin is still numb, looks flushed and feels warm. Imagine the feeling the day after a light sun burn. My appointment is first thing in the morning. An hour later the redness has subsided and I’m left with some light brown patches. By the end of the day my skin feels normal. The laser darkens the patches for a few days. They slough off with daily skincare and by the end of the week I’m left with radiant smooth skin.

A bright lip – MAC in Lady Danger – distracts from any barely visible patches a few days later

Can I go to work immediately afterwards? My skin looks blotchy and I don’t cover it with makeup right away. I don’t book any meetings for the rest of the day, but I could have easily gone back to work at noon.

Do I look ten years younger? Who knows but most of all, my skin glows and looks healthy.

How long does it last? I go for treatments twice a year. If you’re in the sun constantly and don’t wear sunscreen daily, you’ll need to go more often.

Does the laser hurt? Yes especially along the bone but it’s not unbearable. Kind of like a bikini wax in terms of pain level.

What does it cost? Prices vary depending upon the package you chose. Visit to fill out an online consultation request form, or call 877-712-8367