In the search for healthy skin, there are a lot of mixed messages. And believe it or not even someone like me with over twenty years of experience in the skin care biz can still become perplexed.
Last year my skin began to go a bit crazy with melasma or hyperpigmentation aka sun damage, dark brown spots etc so in an effort to rid myself of those dreaded spots I opted for a mild dermatologist peel. Feeling pretty good about the results, I used the follow up at-home regime as instructed, but within a week more spots than before started to appear… unfortunately, this is a common side effect which often means that a few more peels are necessary to get the dark patches under control. I continued with mild peels as the months went on, but the issues only got worse, so earlier this season I embarked on trio of IPL photo facials (something that had worked years ago for a small section of the same problem). Interestingly enough, the problem began to intensify… so now after much dismay, I am consulting an expert in the field, and back to the beginning for a new series of pigment control products and treatments. In my journey, I have learned a lot about the good, the bad, and the ugly truths of hyperpigmentation..
Whatever the level -mild, moderate or severe, consult a dermatologist to help you choose the proper routine to combat the problem. And if you have medium, olive or darker skin tones, don’t think you are immune to the problem. Many people with darker skin tones are more prone to pigmentation and hard a harder time getting rid of it.
Exfoliation – It’s important to do some form of manual exfoliation regularly such as an exfoliating cleanser, mild scrub or a skin brush like the Clarisonic brush to help slough off dead skin cells and keep skin clear and fresh. Look for exfoliators that contain alpha hydroxyl acid, beta hydroxyl acid, or retin A. But don’t over scrub the skin which can cause additional problems.
Sunscreen – Since sun exposure is the leading cause of brown spots, wear a minimum 30 Spf sunscreen daily to help prevent further sun damage and calm the over stimulation of melanocytes. It’s imperative to reapply every 90 minutes during sun exposure to reduce the risk of increased melasma.
Lightening Serums – Use a pigment control gel, lightening serum or lotion that contains ingredients like hydroquinone or kojic acid at least once a day. This will help slow melanin production and help fade existing spots. These serums are an essential part of the routine. Be sure to always use them before bedtime because the body heals during the sleep cycle. Again be sure to seek a Doctors care as not everyone does well with hydroquinone.
Chemical Peels – A chemical peel will help remove the surface layer of damaged skin and reveal newer skin underneath. Look for peels that contain salicylic acid to help lighten dark spots and even out skin tone. Always seek out a qualified professional for any peel that works beyond the surface.
Laser Treatments – For years IPL and other laser treatments have been considered the gold standard to rid the skin of pigmentation, but in many cases like mine lasers on certain skin types can cause the melanin production in skin to rise due to the heat of the laser. So always be sure to go to an experienced professional who can design the proper routine to eliminate the problem.
I have found that the best way to rid the skin of brown spots is to be patient, consistent and diligent with your pigment control products for at least four to six months, and for some it may take even longer.