In her latest bid to fight ageing Imogen Edwards-Jones tries out the Perméa laser treatment - but is the sandpapery skin worth it?

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The longer I’ve been hanging out, smoking, on the periphery of the beauty industry, the more I realise there’s an almost inexhaustible list of new fangled skincare treatments to combat crone face. In the olden days, us ladies d’un certain age would have to rely on cold cream, cold water plus the occasional clay face pack, or a simple slather of white lead paste to prevent the children screaming in the street.

Then we went matte, and sophisticated soignée women would carry around great puffs of powder to ‘take the shine off their nose.’ The look was flawless, sheen-less and so very Robert Palmer girl.

But now it’s all about dew and shine. If you don’t have a face like a glowing smacked arse that’s just jogged around the block, holding a bottle of chilled Evian, having gone to bed tres early, after a light supper of fresh dust then you may as well commit beauty hari-kari right now.

We’re all after bouncy, Instagram skin that is perky as a dough ball and looks like we’ve just stepped out of our school uniform. And we are happy to put up with, and cough up for, treatments that mostly involve a significant of munching, crunching, needle-pricking pain, followed by a period of buttock-clenching downtime while you perfect your lie about quite why you have a face the colour of a Macaque’s arse, followed by a flaky period, until you reach the Shangri-La of beauty moments – a perfect Formica face, all shiny and smooth.

In search of Formica face I’ve tried microdermabrasion, Dermaroller, DermaPen  and have found all of them quite painful, with varying degrees of downtime, but all were relatively successful in the end. And while not ending up with the complete Kidman, preserved in aspic like a manikin; my face has definitely always looked a little shinier and more youthful, right up until the time I go to party and drink my body weight in rose wine.

So as I lay back on a rather comfy beauty bed in a swanky central London hotel to try the latest skin-spanker: the Perméa facial, I kind of knew what I was getting myself into.

“This really won’t hurt very much,” explained Laurie as she sparked up the laser. “I am just going to run it over your face four times and that’s it.”

Designed to give you a brighter, more even skin tone, the small laser pen travels over your skin giving it a quick burning zap. It is not hot enough or long enough to actually really hurt and it is impossible to burn your face, but there are a few moments when you think: “I really rather wish Laurie would hurry the hell up!” And then it is finished.

The next week was a little bit of a challenge, as my face turned pink and then dry and then a bit drier and then as dry as sandpaper. It became itchy and red and raw, slightly like I'd been drinking meths and sleeping in a skip. It’s a weathered, leathered look that probably only you notice, but it does make one slightly less delighted to bump into an old flame underneath the neon-strip lighting at the local corner shop.

And then finally after a week, it all began to clear and I emerged all shiny and dewy from the cracked chrysalis of lasered crustiness. It’s actually not that bad. It took just a little longer than I thought for my full Formica face to appear. Laurie said it would be a week and it was.

The rough scratchy face gave way to something smooth and silky and baby’s-butt perfect. Interestingly it seems to have lasted longer than the other more painful procedures; two birthday parties and counting… And one of them was my own!

Perméa is at Cosmetic Skin Clinic / Dr Tracy Mountford - see