While she might be dealing with tight skin that looks like it's "sunburn[ed]," the actress says she's been receiving a ton of messages from friends raving about the effects of Clear + Brilliant.

By Brittany Leitner
July 16, 2021
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Credit: Getty Images

Hilary Duff has divulged the details of her beauty routine on plenty of occasions, sharing everything from the shea butter she used while pregnant to the conditioning mascara that helped her grow out her eyelashes. Most recently, the mom of three revealed a skin-care treatment she's trying out to promote a healthy-looking complexion.

On Thursday, Duff took to Instagram Stories to share that she was about to try a Clear + Brilliant treatment for the first time. A few hours later, she posted a series of videos, updating followers on her status after the treatment. "I look like I have the worst sunburn of my life, and I've never heard of sunscreen," she said in the video. "And I don't want anyone to make me laugh because everything feels so tight that I don't want to smile."

While that might not seem all that ideal, Duff went on to share that she'd received a lot of responses to her initial Story, with people raving that Clear + Brilliant treatments are well worth it. "Almost everyone I know reached out [and was] like, Clear + Brilliant is the best you're going to love it so much," she said. "Why has no one ever told me to do this before? I've been left in the dark."

Duff may very well have heard from fellow celebrities, given that numerous stars, such as Drew Barrymore, Debra Messing, and Jennifer Aniston, are vocal fans of the treatment. But what is Clear + Brilliant, exactly? And what makes it so special? Keep reading for all the deets. (Related: What You Need to Know About Fraxel Laser Treatments)

What is a Clear and Brilliant facial?

This treatment goes beyond the call of duty of a regular facial thanks to the help of relatively gentle lasers called fractional lasers. If you're hesitant to try laser treatments because of the aftermath, you'll appreciate that "due to the fractionated application of the laser, recovery time is significantly reduced," according to Richard W. Westreich, M.D., F.A.C.S., a plastic surgeon at New Face NY. Fractional lasers use laser beams that are divided into microscopic treatment zones making them less harsh on the skin. Clear + Brilliant treats the most superficial layer of the skin (the epidermis) and "results are similar to outcomes from chemical peels or microneedling that help to resurface the outer layer of the skin," according to Dr. Westreich.

A single treatment lasts about 20 to 30 minutes and, according to Dr. Westreich, can cost anywhere from $400 to $600. While the exact number of sessions (and time between each session) should be decided by your provider, Clear + Brilliant recommends four to six treatments to truly see results. If you plan on getting more than one facial (which, again, is suggested), there are typically plan and pricing packages available that will significantly reduce the overall cost, says Dr. Westreich.

What can you expect from a treatment?

A Clear + Brilliant facial helps lessen the appearance of fine lines, tighten pores, and can be used to treat pigmentation, says Dr. Westreich. It initiates collagen remodeling, which "essentially refers to the process of stimulating new collagen production in the skin's surface," explains Dr. Westreich. "The Clear + Brilliant laser stimulates collagen production by "injuring" the skin with the laser, aka mildly scarring it so skin has to heal and grow back, therefore increasing collagen production that has lagged." (Related: What's the Difference Between Laser Treatments and Chemical Peels?)

This can come at a slight cost in the days immediately following the treatment — something that Duff came to realize post-session, based on her Instagram Stories. The effects that the Younger star detailed are common and typically go away in about one to two days, adds Dr. Westreich. "With all laser treatments, there is an immediate tightening effect from collagen responding to the heat," he explains. "There is also a small amount of swelling that can add to the feeling of tightening, but that usually goes away in two to three days. In the long term, collagen remodeling actually adds tightening over a two to three month period."

All things considered, though, "there are no significant downsides to the treatment," says Dr. Westreich. If you experience redness, dryness, and tightness of the skin post-treatment, applying moisturizer as needed may prove helpful, he says, adding that the treatment is gentle enough that you can wear makeup the same day and go about life as you would normally.

"As with other lasers, there is a risk of post-treatment color problems," with Clear + Brilliant, says Dr. Westreich. "However, within the line of fractionated lasers, Clear + Brilliant is one of the mildest, so the risk is much lower."

Still, it's worth noting that your provider may caution you about the facial depending on your skin type. Laser treatments, in general, are contradictory in that they're commonly used to treat hyperpigmentation, but can also cause hyperpigmentation, especially in those with melanin-rich skin and who experience melasma. "Patients with darker skin tones — meaning skin types 4-6, which often includes people of African, Asian, or Mediterranean descent — have a higher risk of hyperpigmentation after energy procedures," says Dr. Westreich. "Sometimes [providers] will pretreat with a bleaching agent to help minimize this concern." (Related: These Skin Treatments Are *Finally* Available for Darker Skin Tones)

If you're interested in following in Lizzie McGuire's footsteps and trying Clear + Brilliant, it's best to speak with a doctor who can evaluate your skin and suggest an ideal treatment plan. Of course, if you're on the fence, you can keep up with Duff on the 'gram in hopes of finding out how things play out for her.