About Iluminage Skin Smoothing Laser
Considering visiting a dermatologist’s clinic to get the jump on your aging skin? The Iluminage Skin Smoothing Laser claims to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles around your eyes and mouth—and is meant to be used in the comfort of your own home.
Iluminage says that their skin rejuvenation device is the first of its kind to receive clearance from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for at-home use, without sacrificing the effectiveness of laser treatments that you can receive by a licensed medical professional.
While the Skin Smoothing Laser sounds like an anti-aging holy grail, some customers aren’t so quick to endorse the device. We’ll take a look at its claims, and how it works, to help you decide if the Skin Smoothing Laser might work for you.
How Does It Work? The Technology Behind Illuminage’s Skin Smoothing Laser
The Skin Smoothing Laser uses non-ablative, diode laser technology, which delivers a pattern of 1440 nm (Infrared) light that’s released in pulses. What does that mean? Here’s a breakdown:
- Non-ablative: Skin isn’t resurfaced, meaning that the top layer of your skin won’t be affected aside from a slight, temporary redness after each treatment.
- Laser: A pulsed beam that penetrates deep into the skin.
- Infrared (IR) radiation: A specific set of wavelengths that are just on the visible side of red, but less than microwaves.
Image Credit: Advance Dermatology
In theory, the Skin Smoothing Laser uses IR radiation to heat your skin in a controlled manner, creating thermal injury, which, in turn, stimulates your skin to create more collagen.
What Does The Iluminage Skin Smoothing Laser Claim To Do?
Collagen and elastin support your skin. However, as we age, our bodies naturally produce less of each, which leads to skin starting to show signs of aging, from a general looseness to the formation of wrinkles.
Sample of a person's wrinkles
How quickly your skin starts to visibly age depends on your genetics, but can be accelerated by sun exposure, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and other not-so-great-for-you factors.
According to Iluminage, their Skin Smoothing Laser triggers sufficient collagen production to reinforce your skin’s structure from within, dramatically reducing wrinkles and delivering a fresh, healthy appearance.
While changes are gradual, Iluminage claims that they will be more noticeable over time. How long? In the product’s user manual, it states that many users see visible changes in their wrinkles after two weeks of following a treatment plan, with more noticeable changes after four weeks.
Who’s Behind The Iluminage Brand?
As we mentioned in our review of the IluminageTouch and Precise Touch at-home hair removal devices, the Iluminage brand is a joint venture between two big names in the health and wellness industry: Syneron Medical and Unilever.
Syneron Medical is an Israel-based company that’s already seen success with several aesthetic medical devices—though; each has been intended for use only by medical professionals. They’ve since joined forces with Unilever, or at least the health and wellness giant’s investment arm, to branch into medical beauty devices meant for at-home use.
The result? Iluminage is a luxury beauty brand that sells several FDA-cleared products—which they claim offer consumers all the effectiveness of professional devices without the inconvenience of heading to a clinic appointment.
What’s The Difference Between ‘FDA-Cleared’ and ‘FDA-Approved’?
According to the FDA, a product is ‘cleared’ when the agency determines that it’s “substantially equivalent to another legally marketed device.”
Huh. In that context, it sounds like Iluminage declaring that their Skin Smoothing Laser is the first FDA-cleared device is equivalent to boasting about a silver medal: It’s great, but someone else got there first.
This is in contrast to a product that can claim FDA approval, meaning that they have applied for, and undergone, a more rigorous review before being available to consumers.
(What similar products exist? We’re so glad you asked! Check out HighYa’s review of the Tria Beauty—another light-based anti-aging device marketed for home use.)
How To Use The Iluminage Skin Smoothing Laser?
The Skin Smoothing Laser is intended for use around your eye and mouth areas only, meaning that it can’t be used to treat any forehead wrinkles.
Iluminage Skin Smoothing Treatment Areas
If it’s your first time using the Skin Smoothing Laser, Iluminage recommends that you:
- First, examine your facial skin to determine treatment needs. Note that there might be areas of more concern, and some that don’t require treatment.
- Perform a sensitivity test on your forearm using the Skin Smoothing Laser low setting, then wait 30 minutes to see how your skin reacts.
Once you’ve determined your skin’s needs and that using the device doesn’t cause extreme redness or irritation, you’re ready to start treating your face. A full description of each step can be found in the product’s user manual (available for download on their website). Here’s a brief outline:
- Wash and dry your face before each use, since water, makeup, and your skin’s natural oils can interfere with the laser’s pulse and diminish results.
- Activate the handpiece by pressing and holding the power button for three seconds. Make sure that the tip of the laser isn’t in contact with your skin during activation.
- If it’s your first time using the Skin Smoothing Laser, Iluminage suggests that you first practice proper tip placement on your forearm. You want the areas affected by each pulse to overlap slightly, as shown in the diagram above. After each pulse, you must lift the tip from the skin, and move ¼ of an inch to the next treatment location for the device to pulse. If the contact bars remain in contact with your skin, it won’t emit another burst of light. This is to protect overzealous users from treating the same area too many times.
- The Skin Smoothing Laser can be used to treat four ‘zones’ on your face: one near each eye, and one on either side of your mouth. Each zone can require up to 40 pulses to treat.
- Depending on the treatment area, follow the directional maps in the device’s user manual to see exact instructions on how to alternate between upwards and downwards movements.
The device is intended to be used five times a week, as part of your skincare routine. Note that, depending on your skin’s sensitivity, you may experience temporary redness during your first few treatments. Iluminage recommends that you only move up to a higher setting after several treatments on low, to reduce the risk of unnecessary irritation.
Additional Information About The Iluminage Skin Smoothing Laser
Included in the Skin Smoothing Laser user manual are forms to help you track and develop your personal treatment plan.
Users can also connect their device to a computer with the included USB cord. While the platform isn’t yet live, Iluminage claims that soon, you’ll be able to upload your treatment data to a platform called The Skin Clinic. There, you’ll be able to monitor your progress, check for updates, and connect with other Iluminage users around the world.
While the Skin Smoothing Laser is chock-full of safety features, including disabling the laser should the window lose contact with your skin, there’s also a feature to make sure that users don’t go overboard.
The device is limited to 200 pulses within a four-hour window. After reaching its limit, the device won’t power back on, instead of displaying an hourly timer that counts down to when it can be used again.
Totaling 160 available pulses, those limitations should be plenty for anyone who’s treating their four zones at 40 pulses each. However, if you intend to split the purchase of a Skin Smoothing Laser with a partner or roommate, that safety feature can throw a wrench in any plans to both treat your faces during the same four-hour window in the evening.
Iluminage Pricing and Refund Policy
The Iluminage Skin Smoothing Laser comes with several supplemental items, including:
- A charging base and handpiece
- A power cord and USB cable
- A travel pouch
- A user manual that includes instructions and blank pages for your treatment plan
The Skin Smoothing Laser is available for $595. Shipping is free on orders over $100.
If you’re unhappy with your Skin Smoothing Laser, you can contact Iluminage customer service at email@example.com, or by calling 1-877-651-1177, within 60-days of purchase for a full refund. This only applies to purchases made through www.iluminagebeauty.com.
Your Iluminage Skin Smoothing Laser is protected by a one-year warranty guaranteeing that it will be free of manufacturer defects. If your device breaks during the first year, call the above number for customer service with your receipt of purchase on hand. Note that dropping the device, submerging it in water, or using a charger other than the one that comes included can void your warranty.
Additional Iluminage Anti-Aging Products
Iluminage also offers several ‘high-performance’ textile products that claim to aid in your anti-aging efforts. What makes them high-performance? Each is cut from a ‘smart textile’ that has been embedded with copper:
- Skin Rejuvenating Eye Mask ($35): Covers your delicate eye area to minimize the formation of wrinkles while you sleep.
- Skin Rejuvenating Pillowcase ($60): Cut from the same cloth as their eyemask, this pillowcase claims to minimize the visible signs of aging. Iluminage even claims that it is clinically proven to reduce the appearance of wrinkles in as little as four weeks.
- Skin Rejuvenating Socks ($35): Claims to repair and replenish dry, cracked heels, revealing healthier feet and toenails within four weeks.
- Skin Rejuvenating Gloves ($45): Silky, fingerless gloves designed to be worn during day or night to protect your hands. Also, claims to reduce the signs of hand wrinkles and age spots.
How does copper supposedly help minimize signs of aging in your skin? According to Iluminage:
- Copper is a well-known essential mineral with skin enhancing properties
- Copper is naturally found in skin and known to play an important role in skin’s renewal process
- Copper has been used in makeup, face creams and other skincare products for many years
- One of the properties of copper is its ability to promote the natural growth of proteins in the skin
Saying that copper is found naturally in the skin and has been used for years doesn’t necessarily qualify as evidence that it’s useful when woven into fabrics. (It’s like implying that sleeping on a waterbed will keep you hydrated.)
We searched around to try and better understand the proposed benefits of copper and found an article on Paula’s Choice that pertains to copper in skincare products.
The article topic is peptides. Apparently, copper provides a specific group of peptides (called copper gluconate) that some research shows can aid in wound healing. However, the article admits that there’s not much research demonstrating copper bound with peptides has anti-wrinkle and skin-smoothing benefits and none that they could find that were independent.
We were able to locate one study that looked at copper’s potential anti-aging effects, but even that only considered copper that was suspended in a liquid base, e.g. water.
Basically, there’s no proof to back up Iluminage’s claims that their products made from copper-infused fabrics can imbue any anti-aging benefits.
How can we be so sure? In Can Copperwear Provide You With Pain Relief?, we take a close look at the claims many companies make about copper’s benefits.
What Customers Are Saying About The Skin Smoothing Laser
We checked out what Iluminage customers are saying about their Skin Smoothing Lasers and found that, despite the product's high cost and beautiful design, some weren’t happy with how the device worked.
On the Home Shopping Network website, the Skin Smoothing Laser is rated at 1.5/ 5-stars from six reviews. All six of the reviewers stated that the device overheated and turned off before they could finish treating their face.
On Amazon, the device is currently rated at 3/ 5-stars, averaged from 19 reviews. Both positive and negative reviews agree that the device is more painful than they expected during use, stating that it’s not for the fainthearted.
Some other aspects that were reviewed positively include:
- That using the Skin Smoothing Laser is both less expensive, and more convenient than going to a medical professional.
- That it’s stronger than the Tria (but still far below the intensity of a professional laser).
- That you can see results if you’re committed to working with the device and putting in the time it takes to treat all areas for the recommended five days a week.
Aspects of the Skin Smoothing Laser that were reviewed negatively include:
- Using the device caused too much discomfort, puffiness, or skin irritation to continue.
- That situating the contact bars correctly against your skin proved more difficult than expected, resulting in frustration and longer treatment times.
- That no difference was seen in the skin after several weeks.
How can some users attest that the Skin Smoothing Laser works for them, but others say that it has zero effect?
That’s one of the drawbacks of using an at-home laser system. Unlike devices wielded by a medical professional who can adjust laser strength and target areas to suit your skin’s needs, devices like the Skin Smoothing Laser are a one-size-fits-all solution. Unfortunately, due to genetics and variables in user application, that means results—and satisfaction—will vary widely.
What One Dermatologist Thinks Of The Iluminage Skin Smoothing Laser
In Cosmeceuticals and at-home devices: What’s hot, what’s not?, dermatologist Joel Schlessinger, M.D., talks about the exciting technology used in at-home anti-aging lasers. He even gives a thumbs up to the Iluminage Skin Smoothing Laser. So, is that an endorsement?
Dr. Schlessinger says, “As much as I would love to say that the red light device group is catching on, I don't see it happening. We need to clarify how much, if any, benefit comes to the patient. While there are many studies that show improvements in Petri dishes, the actual results we see in person are less impressive.”
In a separate article, Dr. Schlessinger states point blank, “The devices are not strong enough to replace what dermatologists do.” This statement is in direct contrast with Iluminage’s claim to deliver professional results.
What could the Skin Smoothing Laser be good for?
Dr. Schlessinger goes on to say that at-home anti-aging devices like the Iluminage Skin Smoothing Laser are more likely to act as training wheels for consumers looking to experiment with these types of treatments. But that they’ll more than likely seek out a medical professional for a “more intense cosmetic experience.”
Bottom Line On The Iluminage Skin Smoothing Laser
The problem with attempting to determine if devices like the Skin Smoothing Laser are ‘worth it,’ is that everyone has a different set of expectations, much less tolerance for pain and high price-tags.
If you can spare the almost-$600, and don’t mind devoting 30+ minutes an evening, five days a week, to the slow-but-painful process of using the Skin Smoothing Laser, you might find that it has some anti-aging benefits.
However, remember that this device can’t be used to treat your forehead. Additionally, unless you’ve got a flexible schedule and the ability to stay home during daylight hours, it would be very difficult to share the use (and cost) of the Skin Smoothing Laser with your partner or roommate.
Finally, is the device going to erase your crow’s feet and smile lines completely? Probably not. Dr. Schlessinger confirms our suspicions by saying, “I think if they get to a level that is effective, it might keep them from being approved by the FDA.”