Exploring Skin Pen II

I continue to have a great relationship with the folks at Clinical Skin Therapeutics, the clinic that performed my laser hair removal treatments. The staff there is knowledgable and relaxed, happy to help with any questions but never pushy or sales-driven. So when Clinic Manager Kristina Pitre asked if I would be willing to try a relatively new skin treatment, I was all ears.

But once I heard a bit more, I’ll admit I was wary. The treatment – Skin Pen II – was touted as an anti-aging tool, and although I’ll admit to doing the retinoid thing as part of my nightly routine, I still have VERY mixed feelings about anything that bears the anti-aging tag. As I approach 40, I find myself becoming increasingly attuned to the messages older women receive about our faces, bodies, and beauty. Namely that we should do everything in our power to disguise or reverse visible signs of aging, or risk fading slowly into invisibility and irrelevance. (Amy Schumer’s “Last F**kable Day” sketch captures this phenomenon for actresses, but for the general population, too, I think. And, of course, it is riddled with f-bombs so don’t even think about watching at work.) I know that the anti-aging industry is making a mint off of women’s insecurities. I do my best to highlight and support bloggers who write about aging-related topics and the experience of being an over-40 woman in an under-40-focused world. And I would never want anyone who reads this blog to believe that their wrinkles, age spots, or changing bodies are anything to be ashamed of.

BUT (you knew it was coming), here’s the thing about Skin Pen: In addition to offering a non-chemical skin-firming alternative to products like Botox, it is widely used to treat acne scarring. I’ve dealt with acne since I was a teenager, and although I don’t have many visible scars myself I know from talking with others how stubborn they can be and how self-conscious they can make people. And, of course, the ideal solution would be for the world to accept that not all faces look the same. Based on what I’m reading I wouldn’t be surprised if the next wave of the body positivity movement included or even focused on acne. Nevertheless, there are people out there who would worry less and feel more confident if their acne scars could be made less visible. And based on the Skin Pen before and after photos, it seems like a truly viable solution. (More images like this and this can be found on individual clinic pages.)

So I agreed to try out the treatment myself. Again, I don’t have lots of scarring and only had one treatment, so this was more so I could describe a personal experience with the treatment at Clinical Skin Therapeutics. And I’ll dig into that shortly, but first a bit about how it all works.

Skin Pen treatments are also called microneedling: The pen itself has a group of super tiny, thin needles that puncture the dermis, creating minor trauma. Your body responds by producing more collagen and pushing it toward the site. Sounds kinda gross, but when you compare it to lasers and peels it’s considerably less harsh and essentially a way to force your body heal itself more effectively.

From the Skin Pen website:

“Immediately following an injury, our skin begins the process of dissolving tissue damage and replacing it with new cells and extracellular matrix (ECM). Microneedling allows for controlled induction of the skin’s self-repair process by creating precise, micro injuries in the skin to automatically trigger remodeling without causing scar tissue formation.

Microneedling does not damage or destroy the epidermal layer of cells, but simply disrupts the junctions between the cells and creates tiny ‘microchannels’ that allow leakage of blood serum, platelets and lymph (containing growth factors) for a short amount of time . This brief, mechanical disruption is not sufficient to cause the melanocytes (pigment producing cells) in the lower epidermis to react by increasing pigment production and darkening the skin in a process called hyperpigmentation.”

If you have significant scarring, multiple treatments will be necessary. A single treatment – like the one I received – will give your skin a pretty amazing ethereal glow, but it will fade within a month or so. The tech who performed my treatment told me that she’d recently finished a round of treatments on a superstar high school athlete who’d unexpectedly been voted homecoming queen. The girl came in with deep red pock marks along her chin line, and left with far less visible scarring.

So, let’s see some photos, shall we? I did my best to get similar photos in the same setting and similar lighting. This is my face with zero makeup or products the day before my treatment – you can click to enlarge:

before1_sm before2_sm before3_sm before4_sm

You can see a giant cystic zit under my jawline and plenty of blotchiness, but no big scars.

My treatment was for my entire face and neck and took about half an hour to complete. I won’t lie: It hurt. Not sharp, unbearable pain but a very uncomfortable slightly burn-y feeling as the Skin Pen moved across my skin in small circles. The tech did my forehead first and said it would be the most painful part. She was right, and it became more bearable over time. But it wasn’t fun and it wasn’t mild.

This is what I looked like the evening after my noon-time treatment (click to enlarge):

dayof1_sm dayof2_sm dayof3_sm dayof4_sm

As you can see, I’m quite red. The ladies at Clinical Skin Therapeutics suggested getting the treatment at a time when I’d have a day or two of low-key, no-photos-or-TV-appearances time for recovery since the redness tends to stick around for approximately 24 hours. I was given a salve to use and told not to apply anything else, including moisturizer or makeup, for those 24 hours. After that, I could apply as normal.

Here’s two days post-treatment (click to enlarge):

2daysafter_1_sm 2daysafter_2_sm 2daysafter_3_sm 2daysafter_4_sm

You can see that the redness is almost completely gone. What these pictures don’t really show is that by this time, I’d broken out along my chin and jawline. Nothing cystic, just lots of tiny, itchy whiteheads. They faded after another two or three days, and Kristina let me know this was likely a reaction to the super rich hydrating salve clogging my pores.

Shortly after this, I went to New York for a week and wasn’t able to re-create my home bathroom environment for photos. I was told that I’d really see some gorgeous glowy-ness after 7-10 days, and I did … but I’m afraid I didn’t capture it. Here’s what I looked like 17 days after treatment (click to enlarge):

17daysafter_1_sm 17daysafter_2_sm 17daysafter_3_sm 17daysafter_4_sm

I was having my period at this time, so you can see a sprinkling of zits here and there. (Also a cat hair on my chin. Thank you, Harriet.)

I didn’t see any truly drastic changes, though my neck is noticeably less blotchy. Another plus for me: I’d been having redness, peeling, and constant breakouts on either side of my nose for MONTHS and nothing – including leaving it alone and applying zero product besides moisturizer – had helped. About five days after my treatment, the skin there was still a bit red, but not nearly as raw and it hasn’t broken out since.


Again, I wasn’t expecting drastic changes since I wasn’t treating anything in particular. And for anyone with acne or other scarring, multiple treatments are recommended. I’m glad I was able to experience Skin Pen myself, though, so I could describe the feeling, the recovery, and the after-effects first-hand. If you have any questions, I’ll do my best to answer them and request input from Kristina at Clinical Skin Therapeutics if I don’t have the information you need myself.

If you’re interested in trying a Skin Pen treatment yourself – or any other offering, including laser hair removal – you can get 20% off when you book at Clinical Skin Therapeutics by mentioning Already Pretty. The clinic hasn’t given a hard expiration for this offer, which is incredibly generous, so if you’re not ready to commit right now you’ve got time to consider. Maybe put some holiday gift cash toward a treatment, or suggest a gift certificate to CST from a loved-one. Whenever you go, tell ’em I sent ya. Kristina and her team will make you feel truly welcome, and help you create a plan to address your specific needs.


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*Disclosure: Although I don’t generally do sponsored posts, I am receiving services in exchange for this piece. I’ve made an exception because I have more than three years of experience with CST and recommend them to everyone I meet, and because I felt this information and background would be interesting and useful regardless.

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Dressed for: Longline

Already Pretty outfit featuring longline black blazer, black and gold sequin top, distressed jeans, black ankle boots, black Madewell bucket bag

Jacket – eBay – similarsustainable
Top – thrifted via Style Encoresimilar/metallicsustainable
Jeans – Aeropostale (no longer available) – similarsustainable
Boots – Parnu courtesy ECCO
Bag – Madewellsustainable
Earrings – Emalea Designs

I would never have guessed that my black top with gold detailing would get so much use, but I’m hoping this jacket will become a staple. It’s a delightfully heavy ponte with perfectly placed pockets and a great shape, scored for $10 on eBay. A little warm for our still/unseasonably warm autumn, but likely ideal for true winter. We shall see!


This made me laugh: I DO, in fact, lint roll before doing my outfit shots but my home is always engulfed in a cat-hair tornado. A nice shot of my jacket’s pockets presents evidence.


shop the post

**Disclosure: Actions you take from the hyperlinks within this blog post may yield commissions for alreadypretty.com. See Already Pretty’s disclosure statement for more details. Sustainable options are either used, handmade, made in the U.S., artisan made in non-sweatshop conditions, or made using sustainable/fair trade practices.

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Insomniac Sale Picks: Warm Colorul Wool Coats

*In this late-night feature – which will run on Tuesday and Thursday of each week – I’ll gather up three fun items that are currently on sale online and share them with you! I would LOVE suggestions: Stylish wide-width pumps? Classic v-necked sweaters? Chandelier earrings? Petite dress slacks? What would you like to see featured?*

Paula requested a few picks for warm wool coats in colors other than black, so here we go:


lands end wool coat

Land’s End Luxe Wool Car Coat – was $199, now $119.40
with code SHARE40 and pin 7220

Princess seams, people. SUCH a wonderful way to give a coat some shape without adding a fixed waistline. This elegant coat comes in two temperature ratings – the classic version shown here is lined and will keep you toasty to about 5ºF. It’s the more colorful option, too, available in this purple as well as red, camel, black, and gray. The insulated version will work through -10ºF, and is $131.4 on sale, in camel, black, or gray. Both versions are available in regular, petite, tall, and plus sizes! A few more color options available here, too.


J.Crew Double-cloth Lady Day Coat – was $365, now $273.75
with code SHOPTOIT

If I didn’t already have more coats than is remotely reasonable, this one would be on my wishlist. It’s got a trim, sleek silhouette, is lined with Thinsulate for extra coziness, and comes in 10 gorgeous colors including this cobalt, yellow, orange, bright purple, coral, and pink. Available in sizes 000 – 16, including petite and tall sizes. This similar style comes in plus and petite plus sizes. (Customer opinions on warmth are admittedly mixed – if you need something that’ll work through subzero temps, consider the Land’s End coat instead.)


Kenneth Cole Zip-cuff Wool Walker Coat – was $325, now $129.99

No mention of Thinsulate for this coat, but it promises warmth for a few design-related reasons: The stand collar will keep you neck covered, it’s a mid-thigh coat so offers more coverage, and with a close fit it will keep your body heat trapped more effectively. It’s a wool blend and fully lined, so hopefully appropriate for all but the most frigid temps. Available in this blue as well as mauve, pale gray, or black in sizes 2 – 14. Also on Amazon. This style comes in ice blue in plus sizes, and do check the Eloquii coats for more great plus options.

Sustainable resources for warm wool coats:

  1. Everlane – The brand just came out with two wool coat styles, a trench and an overcoat. No bold brights, but you can get heather gray or burgundy.
  2. Eileen Fisher – Spendy but lovely, including long options like this stunning alpaca-blend coat.
  3. eBay – Thousands of secondhand options in a huge array of colors.

Other not-currently-on-sale resources for warm wool coats:

  1. J.Crew – Wool coats in a variety of styles and a rainbow of colors. The double-cloth long peacoat hits below the knee and has a cozy stand collar.
  2. Land’s End – Short and long styles, many available in regular, petite, plus, and tall sizes. Love this basketweave wool coat.
  3. Macy’s – Macy’s may be mediocre at many things, but the store excels at outerwear. Regular, petite, and plus sizes in many styles. This double-breasted flared peacoat is darling.

**Disclosure: Actions you take from the hyperlinks within this blog post may yield commissions for alreadypretty.com. See Already Pretty’s disclosure statement for more details. Sustainable options are either used, handmade, made in the U.S., artisan made in non-sweatshop conditions, or made using sustainable/fair trade practices.

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