Saturday, November 21, 2009

See Spot Go.

* photo courtesy of pixdaus


If only we looked so cute with spots on our faces. Freckles, age spots, sun spots, scars from blemishes, whatever you call them, they're all the same thing...hyper-pigmentation. Are you doomed to seeing spots on your skin forever? Although hyper-pigmentation is a stubborn foe, it can be treated and the cooler months,when the sun is mild, is the best time to start. Here are some effective over the counter treatments as well as suggestions for professional treatments.



Lactic Acid Hydrating Serum (1 fl oz.)

Brighteners- These products work by exfoliating the skin with hydroxy acids or citrus acids and may have light diffusing minerals to further enhance the "brightening". These products also have the added benefit of smoothing the skin and minimizing fine lines. Although these natural acids, especially lactic acid, help with pigmentation, these products are best suited for maintaining results.



Skin Lightening Kojic Cream (1 fl oz.)



Lighteners- These products work by stopping further production of pigment as well as diffusing the discoloration so that it blends into the surrounding skin. These products will often contain hydroxy acids as well. Skin lighteners use (mostly) natural ingredients which make them very gentle to the skin, however it can take quite a while to see results, usually about 2 months of continuous use. Ingredients to look for are kojic acid, lactic acid, glycolic acid, bearberry extract, licorice extract, mulberry root extract, azelaic acid, and L-ascorbic acid (vitamin C).

Fade Gel 4 (0.5 fl oz.)


Whiteners - Also known as skin bleachers, work pretty much the same way that bleach works on clothes, it completely take out the color. The active ingredient in skin whiteners is hydroquinone. Over the counter products with hydroquinone will usually contain 2% hydroquinone but can contain as much as 6%. Be aware that hydroquinone is toxic. Any product containing hydroquinone should only be used for 3 months max (with a 2 month break before you resume) and only on 20% of your body at a time. This is serious stuff ladies, which is why it is not my preferred way of treating hyper-pigmentation.

Vinoperfect Radiance Set (4 piece)

Au Natural (said that with my best american french accent)- This is the closest you can get to natural while it still being effective.They contain the sap of the grape vine to even out skin color as well as give a healthy dose of antioxidents. It's gentle enough for the super sensitive and can even be used during pregnancy!

Professional treatments are extremely effective for treating hyper-pigmentation. 1 professional treatment (depending on the treatment of course) can be as effective as 2 months of using skin lighteners at home.

Facials - use professional-use-only masks, serums and exfoliants to lighten skin. Skin lightening facials can take a while (maybe 5-6 treatments) before you get your desired results, however the luxurious massages make it worth the wait!

Skin Peels - these work by exfoliating and diffusing pigmentation. This is my preferred method since peels can be totally customized for your skin type and well as treating other skin condition simultaneously (like blemishes and fine lines). Results are immediate and continue with further treatments, which is usually a course of 3-4 treatments.

Lasers - can only be done by a doctor or nurse practitioner. Although very effective, they can very uncomfortable, scary and can cause scarring if done by an untrained hand. I'm a bit of a nervous nelly when it comes to treating the skin with lasers. I prefer a more hands on approach.

So what treatment is best? Well I say both home treatments and professional skin peels. But if you can't afford the skin peels, stick with the gentle skin lighteners. But no matter which treatment you choose be patient, be consistent, and most importantly, wear your sunscreen. Even just one day, one day, without it can undo months of hard work, so don't leave home without it!

* photo courtesy of flikr

One last note, there are many suggestions for home remedies to help lighten skin. Lemon juice, sour buttermilk, potato juice, cucumber juice and hydrogen peroxide are examples of such suggestions. Yes the idea is very alluring, however the problem with some of these is that they are not as effective because the active lightening ingredient just isn't concentrated enough. Others, like hydrogen peroxide, can be very damaging to skin. Although homemade skincare can be deliciously great for the skin, better leave skin lightening alchemy to the professionals.

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