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My Luminosity Acne Skincare Treatment For Non-Inflamed Acne Process & Progress

non-inflamed acne luminosity acne skincare african-american skin post-inflammatory hyperpig. dermabrasion microdermabrasion make-up oily skin

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#1 nadera

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Posted 20 October 2011 - 07:52 AM

Greetings to one and all.

My name is Nadera and I have non-inflamed acne (hears chorus of Hiiiiiiiiii Nadera! lol)
I'm an African-American female, 34 years of age. I've had problems with my skin since I turned 18 and went away to college. At that time, I was diagnosed with "adult onset acne" which was probably just a physical manifestation of stress since I had moved 7 hrs away from home (by car) to attend school. I've never had cystic acne, just lots of blackheads and terribly oily skin. I know I inherited the oily skin factor from my mom, but no one in my family has problems with acne. Anyway, after years and years of trying treatments, peels, microdermabrasion, Proactiv and picking at my own face, I may have finally stumbled upon a real solution.

A friend introduced me to Carmen Popa and her Luminosity Acne Skincare, located in Cary, NC. Carmen was trained by Laura Cooksey of the acclaimed Face Reality clinic in CA. Carmen also trained in FL with Dr. James Fulton, one of the premier experts on acne.

I had my consultation and first treatment with Carmen last Friday, October 14th. During the consultation she covered EVERYTHING about acne: the acne gene, causes of acne, hormones changes, foods and external things that can worsen acne, etc.
The treatment consisted of a peel (just one layer for my first treatment) followed by extractions. I've had both of these procedures done before, countless times, but there was something unique about the way that Carmen did it. She did use an extraction tool, but she lanced each blackhead with a teeny tiny needle first. I asked the reason for this, and she replied that it helps to relieve pressure and prevents a pimple from popping in a way that can leave a scar from being forced out of the pore. This seems like such a small thing, but made a huge difference afterward, because the post-extraction redness was gone by the time I drove back to my office (about 35 minutes) from my appointment.

The best thing is that I was considering Face Reality's Long Distance Patient program and had asked them if there was an esthetician that they could recommend in my area for treatments and they also sent me Carmen's name. I think that the Face Reality products are very effective, but I think that getting the treatments bi-weekly is really what helps people get clear and stay clear.

Carmen sells and uses the same products that Face Reality does (they come from the same supplier) but they are branded as Luminosity products. After my first treatment I purchased the following items for my home care routine:

Silica Scrub
Toner
Mandelic Acid 8%
Acne Lotion 2 (5% BP)
SPF30 Sunscreen
Cranberry Cream Moisturizer

My routine for the next two weeks is the following:

AM
Silica Scrub
Toner
Mandelic Acid 8% (every other day)
SPF 30 Sunscreen

PM
Silica Scrub
Toner
Acne Lotion 2 (15 min days 1-3; 30 min days 4-6; 1 hr days 7-9, 2 hrs days 10-12; all night days 13-14)
Silica Scrub (to remove BP product days 1-12)
Cranberry cream (days 1-12)

My progress this far:

I have been much more diligent about my skincare than I have ever been before. I threw away all other skin care products that I had in my house and replaced them with the items I bought from Carmen. I have been consistent with my routine every day, with the exception of Day 2, when I fell asleep without doing the night routine.

I'm currently at Day 13 and my skin has been much more smooth to the touch than it was prior to the first treatment. Carmen explained that it takes pimples between 1-3 months to form and come to the surface, so acne lesions that I see on my face now started at least one month ago. This is also why she indicated that it typically takes about 3 months to clear the skin of acne. Even when you start doing the right things for your face, you still have to wait for previous lesions to surface and subside. I do still wear make-up during the day to cover my post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Happily, Carmen says that the hyperpigmentation will fade over time with her treatments. I've only had one additional pimple (a small one) surface in the middle of my forehead. I put a little extra of the Acne Lotion 2 on it at night, and it isn't growing in size, so I'm happy.

My next treatment is scheduled for Friday, October 28th. I'll update and provide pics after that one.

#2 nadera

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Posted 22 October 2011 - 10:55 AM

I incorrectly stated in my last post that I was on Day 13, when I was actually on Day 6.
Today is day 8 and things are still going relatively well. The baby zit on my forehead now has a sibling halfway between my lower lip and chin. I'm doing my best not to pick, but the new pimple is kinda painful. No real dry skin to speak of, except for a small patch beneath my lower lip. I'm up to wearing the BP product for one hour each evening now. I can see now why you have to be graduated up to sleeping with the BP product overnight. My esthetician also told me that during the course of my treatment, the products that I use would not really change, but the application method would. It kinda reminds me of the theory of muscle confusion that's behind the P90X exercise program (a story for another day).

True to her word, Carmen followed up with me at the one week mark to check on my progress and make sure that I wasn't getting too dry, and to offer some encouragement. Looking forward to next week's appointment so that she can hopefully make quick work of these two new zits!

Until next time...

#3 nadera

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Posted 25 October 2011 - 09:08 PM

Day 11:

whoa! i've been experiencing major dryness after wearing the acne lotion 2 (5% bp lotion) for 2 hrs for the past two days, as dictated by the "acne lotion schedule".
thus far, the things that have stuck with me most are:

1) the amount of time it takes for a pimple to form; 1-3 months according to carmen. during the consult, she said this is also the reason it typically takes people at least 3 months to get clear. even though you start consistently treating the skin with what it needs you must also pay attention to/take care of all the crap in your skin that has had 1-3 month head start.

2) it's not just the products you use, but also the regimen followed. you have to do it every day. if you skip a day, you could be setting yourself up for a zit some time in the next 3 months...so skip @ ur own risk.

3) stronger product is not always necessary or effective. this ties in with point #2. i certainly never expected this little 5% bp acne lotion 2 to be the bizness! it has me looking very withered around the mouth area, but flaking is minimal & manageable

4) peanut butter isn't good for non-inflamed acne which is a problem because i.love.peanut butter!...period! almond butter is a safe albeit less tasty alternative. thankfully, i like almond butter. so as a show of good faith, i bought some @ food lion today. i will also make an effort to rid my life of the evil that is reese's peanut butter cups (my candy boo).


can't wait for my next appointment on friday @ 11 am. i want to see what carmen thinks of my progress. overall, i would say that the texture of my skin has been an improvement. i only had 2 new "formations" (one on the chin and small one on the forehead), but the universe was kind and made them small at least. shine factor was maybe down to a 7, but still pretty reflective.

i wore make-up most of last week but haven't really done so this week. my main goal is just to be able to wear my own skin! a bit of concealer under the eyes and some powder, blush and that's it. natural beauty. i liked the even tone of the make-up but disliked how shiny i was in a few hours. in photos it looks like soul glo on my face (not a good look in coming to america or real life!). i have to blot like 20 times/day, but hey, it's just the life i lead. carmen said that her clients often experience much less oil production after treatment.

that's it for the moment. i'll holla.

#4 nadera

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 07:36 AM

Day 14: Second Acne Treatment appointment (10/28/2011)

So I finally made it to this day and was excited to see Carmen's assessment of my progress!

Recap: I received my first treatment two weeks ago and purchased products for my home care regimen.
I was instructed to wash daily with silica scrub, apply toner, 8% mandelic acid serum (every other morning) and spf 30 sunscreen. In the evenings, wash daily with silica scrub, apply toner, apply acne lotion 2 (5% bp product) for recommended time (starting at 30 mins, then working up to all night, over course of 2 weeks), wash with silica scrub, apply cranberry cream moisturizer.

Carmen said that my skin's texture definitely felt more smooth and less pebbly when she cleansed my face. She asked about dryness I experienced, and I let her know that it was minimal. She said that if I did start to flake, massaging the area with the cranberry cream moisturizer to loosen the dead flaky skin would help.

During this visit, she applied the corrective peel, 2 layers this time, for 3 minutes each. Then she proceeded with the extractions. She extracted more this time than during the last visit, she said she was going by feel and by sight. She said that there were more lesions that she could feel than she could see, so getting the small ones before they got big enough to see was a good thing. Extractions are never my favorite, but the needles used make the whole process less painful. It was also nice to see all of that pore-clogging sebum on a tissue, rather than on my face! Afterward, Carmen reviewed my new home care routine, which is the same, except I now apply the 8% mandelic acid serum to my face daily in the morning, and I wear the acne lotion 2 all night long every night, and I don't use the cranberry cream at night anymore.

I scheduled my next appointment on 11/10.

Day 17 (10/31/2011):

I had some super dryness around the mouth area and right underneath my bottom lip after last Friday's peel. I followed Carmen's advice about using the cranberry cream to massage away the dry flaky skin, and it has worked. My skin feels smooth and flat almost all over, no little lumps and bumps where something's waiting to break through the surface! Yay!

#5 nadera

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 08:05 AM

Day 24 (11/07/2011):

Things are proceeding as usual with my routine. I have to admit that I actually have found my prescribed routine to be a little anti-climactic. Maybe because it's so simple and doesn't require timing anything...I slacked off a few nights last week, but I re-dedicated myself to my efforts. I've experienced a few more random pimples on my forehead and cheeks, but nothing major. All blemishes that I get since starting this treatment are CONSIDERABLY smaller than what I would get before. I have also stopped picking altogether and leave that entirely up to Carmen and her needles!

My next appointment is set for this Thursday, November 10th @ 11 am. Can't wait to hear Carmen's feedback on my progress thus far.

#6 nadera

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Posted 12 November 2011 - 09:22 AM

Day 28 recap 11/10/2011: Third Acne Treatment

I am happy to report that I am still making good progress! By now, my appointments with Carmen have become pretty routine and it's very apparent that Carmen really loves what she does. As soon as I lay down on the table, Carmen applies my hair covering and gets down to assessing my skin's progress since the last appointment. While she's conducting her assessment, she asks me questions about any changes/difficulties/benefits I've experienced.

When she was cleansing my skin this time, she noted that my cheeks were significantly less bumpy feeling than at my first appointment; an indication that the extractions and home care have greatly reduced the amount of pore blockage in this area. She said the same about my temple area on the left side of my face, which previously had the texture of "pebble beach".

After cleansing she applied the de-greaser, and during the course of our discussion she mentioned that some people use pure acetone to de-grease their client's face. According to Carmen, the acetone is not harmful to the skin, but she considers it too harsh to use, and prefers to stick to her formula of salicylic acid for this step. I'm still in awe at the fact that any skin care professional would dare to put a chemical such as pure acetone on a client's face or any part of their skin for that matter!

Next came two layers of the peel, for three minutes each. I have to admit that I felt like I could actually feel the peel working on my skin this time. No burning or stinging, but a deep penetrating tingling sensation this time. This prompted me to ask Carmen how the peels work, and she stated that it kind of eats up and dissolves the top layers of the skin. That's pretty consistent with what I felt, nothing painful, but I could definitely feel it working!

Extractions always follow the peel. Unfortunately that big mamma jamma pimple over my eyebrow was not ready to be extracted, so she had to leave it be, though she gave it her best effort. The fact that she didn't keep at it until she got results (as many of us on these boards would be prone to do) earned her major points in my book. It showed me that she really does care about her clients, their skin, and the best possible outcome for both. Carmen also mentioned that the congestion of my skin has drastically decreased because where as the lesions to be extracted used to be visible to the eye, there are only a few visible lesions and the others she has to find by touch. Great news to my ears!
Extractions are definitely not my favorite part, but I refer to them as the necessary evil. The fact that Carmen's extractions don't leave me marked up also make me less averse to them.

As we finished up this appointment, I asked Carmen if she had ever encountered any acne that she couldn't clear. To my surprise, she said no! She said that the work of Dr. Fulton is pretty amazing and effective, but the most difficulty she encounters is clients not following through with their home care routine. She says that it can be difficult for her to address clients who are not being truthful about their home care routines or consistently following the program. She said that the skin doesn't lie, and if a client isn't clearing up, it's usually because they're not following up on the home care, or following the routine as prescribed. When clients are not truthful about their home care routines, Carmen just tries to solve the skin care puzzle and address the skin blemishes by strengthening the treatments, which can cause unnecessary skin dryness and flakiness, all of which could be avoided if client's explicitly followed the skin care instructions. Another issue she frequently encounters are clients who become impatient and self-diagnose and add products to their treatment regimen without consulting her. As the expert, Carmen expects clients to follow the skin care program she prescribes, and give honest feedback if there are problems or negative reactions, but when clients take it upon themselves to add steps or products to the treatment program, it can lead to regression or the skin not getting clear at all. I personally sought Carmen out because I was looking for someone that I could place my faith and trust in, who could provide me with products and a regimen to follow to the tee, so that I could get the results I wanted. Those who don't follow the regimen or exclusively use the products are wasting their time (and Carmen's), not to mention their money. I know after countless failed spa and dermatologist visits, it can be hard to place total confidence and trust in yet another skin care professional, but sometimes that is what you have to do to get to where you want to be. (end of my soap box rant)

My skin care regimen was also bumped up for the next two weeks. My AM routine is cleanse with silica scrub, apply toner, apply mandelic acid 8%, apply spf 30 sunscreen. PM routine is silica scrub, toner, 8% mandelic acid, acne lotion2 (5% bp product). My next appt. is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 22nd.

Today is day 30 and thus far, I've just had a little bit of post-peel flaking on my chin, which is the norm for me after a treatment.


Later gators!

#7 nadera

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Posted 28 November 2011 - 09:41 AM

Day 46:

Wow! The time is really flying by with the holidays and all! I feel like it will be 2012 before I know it.

I had my scheduled appointment (#4) with Carmen, last Tuesday, 11/22/2011. It was my first appointment that lasted under 1 hour! It took about 45 minutes from the time I walked in the door to the time I walked out the door.

Nothing new or eventful to report with the actual acne treatment. It's still the same ole, same ole....cleanse, de-grease, 2 layers of corrective peel, then extractions. Extractions were very minimal...hardly anything on the tissue this visit. Carmen said that some people get kind of sad when they get clear because they miss their acne. HA! I will NOT be in that category at all. I say bon voyage and peace out to my acne. Good riddance!

As far as the acne goes, I would say that I'm 90% clear. The improvement in the texture of my skin is monumental! I've never been one to use the term "smooth as a baby's butt..." in reference to my own skin, but thanks to Carmen, that statement actually is appropriate. I have to remind myself not to constantly touch my face with my hands, lest I cause a problem. It's so hard to keep my hands off of my face though, because I can't remember the last time that I didn't have "bumpy temples" or zits on my chin and forehead. I would say in that regard, Phase I of my acne treatment is complete. Phase 2 (the final frontier) is the lightening of my post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. My forehead, chin and left cheek/temple area have the most blemishes to be cleared. The marks there aren't even especially dark, just average.

I am very eager to see the progress that will be made after my 6th treatment. My next two appointments are scheduled for 12/8 & 12/20. I'm going on holiday to the Caribbean from 12/26 - 01/02, and I would love to be able to be in photographs with out my braces (those are coming off in 2 days, on WEDNESDAY!!!!!!!!!!) or acne marks.

My products are holding up well. I'm just about out of my 8% mandelic solution. Still got plenty of silica scrub. Down to about 1/3 bottle of toner. Will probably also need to get more acne lotion 2 and mandelic at my next visit. Still got plenty of spf lotion and cranberry cream (haven't used the cranberry cream since instructed to stop using...I only use it as needed on the crease above my chin the first few days after a peel, when it tends to be very dry and flaky).

Almost forgot...my regimen! Carmen instructed me to cleanse, tone, apply mandelic, then apply acne lotion 2 in the morning AND evening. In the morning, I also apply spf 30 lotion. Super simple :-)

#8 nadera

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Posted 28 November 2011 - 10:00 AM

I almost forgot to say that I am very happy! It's weird, but I almost didn't expect to be cured. Carmen's system almost seems too easy. I doesn't really seem like products that I haven't already tried or things I haven't done before. but would say that the success is definitely attributed to the combination of the three elements...the BI-WEEKLY peels & extractions, the products used, and the home care regimen. never in a million years did I imagine that I would have smooth, normal skin of my high school years. I really began to believe that I would be stuck with oily, bumpy, marked-up skin on my face for years to come. Although I pored over the before & after photos on Carmen's website and on the Face Reality pages, I don't think it ever really sunk in that I could have the same results.

I will say that it does take effort and dedication on my part to keep up the results, but the facial regimen that I have been prescribed to follow is so easy and minimal...it's certainly much less drama than any self-made regimen that I ever concocted. It's even way simpler than Dan's regimen. I haven't bleached a single item of clothing or bedding or suffered from skin that was too dry and flaky to keep me from going out in public. Now that my skin isn't super oily and reflecting the light of the sun, I might enjoy being in pictures again. The simplicity of my regimen also makes me wonder about all the highly complicated regimens that I have seen here on acne.org. I'm definitely not judging what works for other people, but I wonder what kind of results some of those people might have if they had the opportunity to be exposed to the Luminosity/Face Reality treatments.

It makes me mad to think about how much time and money I WASTED going to dermatologists who spent like 2 minutes talking to me before prescribing expensive creams and lotions that dried me out and didn't help. To be honest, I haven't really thought twice about the expense of my appointments with Carmen, because they're WORKING. I can see and feel the difference, and get a bunch of comments and compliments on my skin. It must really be looking better or have been super jacked up before, because people are always like "your skin REALLY looks good....no REALLY! what have you been doing??" [loves it!]

I think that my success has come, not only from going to a professional/expert on acne care (one who actually asks questions and works to understand me and my skin, not just someone who write prescriptions for harsh meds) but also to my own personal dedication to my cause and commitment to following the prescribed home care routine.

It's also weird that Face Reality doesn't advertise or recommend estheticians across the U.S. who have completed the Face Reality training course. I know it might take some money out of their pockets from the Long Distance Patient Program. But I think that the reason that the Long Distance program only has a 95% success rate (which is still totally awesome) is because the in-person acne treatments make a huge difference. I really think it would be worthwhile and of huge benefit to the potential clients.

#9 nadera

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Posted 08 December 2011 - 08:04 AM

OMG where has the time gone.

Sorry that my posts have been lacking as of late, but it's really because there's not much to post about.
I've been making nothing but progress since my third treatment. Today I am scheduled for treatment #5, so it's been about 10 weeks since I first started seeing Carmen.

Last week, I threw out a completely full tube of Tazorac and a half-full tube of Retin-A Micro! Why, you ask? Because I don't need 'em! Carmen's products are so amazing that they have cleared my acne! My skin is smooth and blemish free and much less oily! Oil reduction is a positive side effect that Carmen said many of her clients report, but I never expected to be one of them. I also got rid of the prescription medications and all other acne remedies that I had stashed in my bathroom as a reminder to myself that all I need is the RIGHT products, not every product. It was very liberating to put those things that cost so much money (but never helped one bit) out of my house and out of my mind forever! This program really works, if you work it! And it's working. Another benefit I've gotten from this program is self-discipline! I've taken Carmen's words to heart, when she said that the program would only work if I was dedicated to it, and that's what I have been since day one. Since I started, there have been less than 10 days where I did not follow my home care regimen.

One other thing I can touch on is how long the products last. After 10 weeks, I just now ran out of 2 products; the mandelic acid and acne lotion 2. Neither is completely empty, but it's definitely time to re-up. These products cost $10 and $14 respectively, so it's not even a huge cost.

Finally, I GOT MY BRACES OFF! That was such a major achievement for me that I'm just happier in general and now I LOVE my smile, so I'm also really excited to see my skin making such huge progress. My trip to Jamaica is now 18 days away and I can't wait!

#10 nadera

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Posted 01 February 2012 - 05:52 AM

Happy Belated New Year!

Wow I'm so late with this post and I can't believe that it's been almost two months since my last post! So, my trip to Jamaica was AMAZING! Not just because of all of the sights, sounds and delicious food, but because my pictures came out great! My skin was clear and my teeth were straight, so I was in HEAVEN! I kept up with my regimen while on Christmas break. At my last appointment with Carmen, I bought more toner, mandelic, and acne lotion 2.

I had a minor surgery in early January, and as a result of being on my post-op meds, I didn't really keep up with my home care regimen, so I wound up seeing Carmen for two more visits, a total of 8 all together. However, as of yesterday, I am happy to report that I have been given the all clear to proceed with my home care regimen only and I no longer need to schedule bi-weekly treatment appointments! Yaaaaaaaaaaaay! I will definitely miss seeing Carmen, but not the drive out to her location in the middle of my work days, lol! She said that if I want to accelerate the clearing of the last bit of my hyperpigmentation. Because I had fallen off the wagon, at my last appointment, my prescribed regimen was scrub, toner, 8% mandelic every other morning & scrub/toner/8% mandelic/acne lotion2 every night for the first , then switching to mandelic use every morning during the second week. I will stay on this same regimen for the next two weeks, then I will bump up to the 15% mandelic again, hopefully with much less dryness than I experienced last time.

During the time that I have been a client, Carmen changed locations and her new esthetics room in the salon is more spacious...LOVE IT! During the course of my treatment process, two people that I referred actually set up consultations with Carmen. As a thank you, she gifted me with a free bottle of my cleanser ($28 value per bottle) for the first referral and for the second, she will allow me to use the $28 as a credit toward another product that I need in the future (since I don't need another bottle of cleanser...those things last forever!). At my appointment with her yesterday, Carmen told me that Laura Cooksey, of Face Reality, stumbled upon this acne.org post about my experiences, and contacted Carmen to tell her about it! I'm glad to know that people are reading :-)

So here is my recap of Luminosity Acne Skin Care: It works, if you work it. Period. And what I mean by that is, for this system to work, you're going to have to put your faith in Carmen (the expert) and do what she tells you to. Make the changes to your diet (if necessary), buy the products, go to your biweekly appointments, don't complain about the price, and most importantly, DO THE HOMECARE (as prescribed)!!! If you do those things, you will have clear skin at the end of it. You will have self confidence, and you won't be able to stop looking at yourself in the mirror. You'll be able to stop wearing caking on make-up to cover up your skin. You won't have to, because your skin will be clear and have its own glow. My skin is at least 50% less oily, and I RARELY break out now, even when I'm close to "that time of the month". The biggest difference for me is the texture of my skin. I still have to remind myself to stop touching my face so much, but it's hard because I'm so used to that pebbly feel of the non-inflamed acne and blackheads that it's hard to believe that this smooth, soft skin is actually mine! I know, I know, you're asking...where are the pics! How right you are! In all of our excitement yesterday, I didn't get Carmen to take "after" pics. I'll try to go and see her again in two weeks to do that, and then, as promised, I will post my before and after pics here for you all to see.

It's been a journey, but I couldn't be happier with the results :-)

Now that my story is done, I'm more than happy to answer any questions that anyone out there might have for me about my skin or my treatment process/experience with Carmen and Luminosity Acne Skin Care. I also want to say how grateful I am for the existence of a community like acne.org...without this site, I would not know about Laura Cooksey & Face Reality or even the term non-inflamed acne, which was really the key to me getting treatment and finally being clear again (after suffering with acne for over 15 years).

#11 nadera

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Posted 28 March 2012 - 12:49 PM

Just checking in to let you know that my skin is STILL clear even after transitioning 100% to a home care regimen! I haven't seen Carmen since my last appointment on January 31, 2012. Since then, I've only had 2 really serious pimples pop up, and I believe they were isolated incidents caused by pre-menstrual hormonal surge. My skin is still smooth and I am still in contact with Carmen periodically regarding the state of my skin...she didn't just abandon me once I finished my series of treatments. She's such an awesome esthetician; she wants her clients to do well and she doesn't try to keep them chained to her! I had one more person go to see her as a referral after I stopped my treatments, so I guess the proof is in the pudding. And this friend actually has started seeing Carmen regularly for treatments :-) People who have known me for a while notice the change in my skin and ask me all the time what I'm doing differently. Without hesitation, I give them Carmen's name. I also now have access to Carmen's online store so that I can order my replenishment products online. This is 360 degrees of customer service because it allows me to save time AND gas, Carmen's location is about 35 minutes from my house, but I don't have to make that drive because she just ships my products to me and I can pay conveniently via PayPal. This online ordering option is only available to Carmen's current clients, not the general public...and for good reason, she wants to ensure that she has assessed a person's skin and given them recommendations for items to purchase. This stuff is definitely not your typical weak strength OTC product.

Anyhow, I realized that I never posted my pics, so I'm going to schedule an appointment with Carmen to take my "after" photos so that I can post a comparison and let you all be the judge.

But in the meantime, here's a link to Carmen's website:http://www.raleighacnetreatment.com/
Contact Carmen Popa at:
Luminosity Acne Skin Care: 1151 Kildaire Farm Rd., Suite 116 | Cary, NC 27511 | Phone: (919) 840-8184 | E-mail: info@LuminositySkincare.com