The pro: Shani Darden, aesthetician and anti-aging expert Our tester: Tessa Trudeau, West Coast bureau editorial assistant and selfie pro
"A lethal combo of stress and unusually humid L.A. weather had taken a toll on my skin. I’d developed breakouts on my chin and forehead that no amount of concealer could hide. I arrived at Darden’s West Hollywood bungalow for an emergency complexion-clearing fix.
"She led me to a treatment room nestled in her woodsy backyard and cleansed my cheeks, chin, and forehead; applied a lactic-acid peel; and did a pore extraction before strapping on a bulky white mask that covered my face, neck, and chest and emitted pink and blue LEDs. I looked more suited for Comic Con than for a red carpet.
"The pink LED boosts collagen production, which firms skin, Darden explained. The blue LED zaps bacteria, therefore reducing breakouts. 'The treatment is safe for literally any skin type,' she told me. 'You can get an at-home version, like the LightStim Handheld [$249; lightstim.com] to use daily. The trick is to hold the device within an inch of your face and hover over each area for three to five minutes.
"Fancy machines aside, Darden added that there are only two products every woman needs to achieve similar effects in the long term: a vitamin A–packed retinol cream and a ton of sunscreen."
The results: "After 20 minutes under the zit-zapping armor, I saw an immediate difference in my face. A few days after my session with Darden, my chin and forehead had completely cleared—no filter needed here."