Reader Question: Treatments for Hyperpigmentation!

 

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Hi readers!¬† Anyone else excited that it is Thursday? ūüôā

Someone recently asked me about what they can do regarding sun spots.  What is commonly referred to as sun spots or age spots is hyperpigmentation. Simplified, hyperpigmentation is caused by an overproduction of melanin (brown pigment that gives skin color) that causes the darkening of the skin.  Below are causes of hyperpigmentation along with possible treatments.

Causes of Hyperpigmentation

  • Overexposure to sun, tanning beds, fluorescent and ambient lighting
  • Hormones/ Pregnancy
  • Medications- birthcontrol, thyroid, hormone replacement therapy (*Note: Never discontinue medication without the approval of your physician)
  • Stress
  • Inflammation/trauma caused by heat, acne, wounds, burns, eczema, etc
  • Age

Treatment Options

  • Exfoliation/chemical peels such as TCA, Jessner‚Äôs peels or¬†lactic acid peels
  • Increased cell turnover with retinol/retinoids (Retin-A)
  • IPL/Laser
  • LED Light Therapy
  • Skincare products that contain arbutin, kojic acid, vitamin C (ascorbic acid), lactic acid, azelaic acid, phytic acid, and licorice extract.¬† Hydroquinone is another option available but it is¬†a controversial ingredient that has a high risk of creating¬†skin sensitivity.¬† Hydroquinone also must be used in 3/6 month cycles meaning you can only use it for a few months at a time and then cycle off.
  • Sunscreen!¬† Important no matter what!¬† None of the above treatments will be effective¬†if you don’t¬†protect your skin from¬†sun damage-you’ll end up right back where you started and can even cause more pigmentation problems.

Remember that these are guidelines and the treatment option that will work best for you depends on a consultation with a skincare professional/dermatologist.

I hope this was helpful. ūüôā

Thanks for reading,

Stephanie  

Skin Tip: Less Sugar for a Youthful Look!

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Most people’s resolutions at the beginning of the year are to eat healthier. ¬†If you need an extra incentive to eat less processed and sugary foods, consider this. ¬†A diet high in sugar accelerates the aging process and can result in inflammation, puffiness and loss of skin radiance.

Have a lovely weekend,

Stephanie

You Want Me To Use An Acid On My Face?

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Back when I was taking my esthetics course, or beauty school as some may recognize it, we had a department open house in which people were welcome to stop by and learn about the services we provided.  We conducted a complimentary skin analysis and invited them to come back and experience a facial that would suit their skin needs. I remember one lady who asked me what I recommended for her combination skin to which I suggested a moisturizer or serum that contained hyaluronic acid.

The look of sheer horror she expressed followed by, ‚ÄúYou want me to use an acid on my face?‚ÄĚ is something I won‚Äôt forget.¬† I quickly explained that this ingredient was nothing like the battery acid found in a car or those in chemical peels but rather an excellent way to introduce hydration into the skin- she looked relieved. ¬†Nevertheless, perhaps you’ve heard about this ingredient and thought the same thing so here’s the scoop on what makes this ingredient so coveted.

Who: Hyaluronic Acid (HA)

What it is: A glycosaminoglycan (GAG)/humectant that attracts moisture to your skin cells.  It increases the water content in the epidermis by drawing moisture from surrounding air.

Where it’s found: HA is a substance that is naturally found in our bodies.  It cushions and lubricates our joints, eyes and connective tissues.

Look for hyaluronic acid and sodium hyaluronate in skincare ingredients.  Popular fillers like Juvederm, Restylane and Perlane utilize HA as well.

Why it’s important:  As we age, our natural production of HA declines.  HA serves an important role in cell protection, lubrication and maintenance of connective tissue.  It also helps retain moisture  in skin since it can hold 1000 times its weight in water.  Think of it like a drink of water for your skin.  When your skin is dehydrated or dry, our complexion can look aged and feel tight.

How it affects the skin:  HA gives turgor and elasticity to the skin.  Increased water in the skin is the easiest way to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, by plumping up fine lines and wrinkles.  This leads to a more youthful appearance, making it a great anti-aging treatment.  Because it is not an oil, it is virtually ideal f for all skin types, including acne.

Hyaluronic acid doesn’t sound that bad now after all, right? ¬†

 

What’s Aging You?

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69 year-old truck driver whose left side of the face was exposed to the sun for 28 years.

 

By at least our 30’s, if not sooner, many of us start reaching for products that can help delay the aging effect. ¬†While aging is a natural part of life, if you’re seeing signs of premature wrinkles, take a look at this fact. ¬†85% of skin aging is caused by how you live (i.e. sun exposure, pollution, unhealthy lifestyle).¬†

Aging can be classified into two types: intrinsic and extrinsic.  Intrinsic aging reflects genetic background and the passage of time; in other words, elements that are beyond our control.  Extrinsic aging (considered to be preventable) is brought about by environmental or external factors, including smoking, alcohol consumption, poor nutrition, and UV exposure.

Do you know which factor is responsible for expediting the aging process?

If you guessed the sun, you are correct (and have been reading my posts)!

By now you know the danger of excessive and unprotected UV exposure (skin cancer), but it also leads to photo-agingРa term used to describe the characteristic changes of  sun induced skin.

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Extrinsic, left; Intrinsic , right.

The image above depicts photo-aged skin (left) and chronological aged skin (right).  See the dramatic difference?

Let’s take a look at how structurally these two pictures differ.

Protected From UV Damage and Extrinsic Elements

When age is caused by intrinsic forces, the skin has a thinned, smooth, clear, almost transparent apperance.  There is also fine wrinkling, inelastic, saggy skin, increased dryness, slight flakiness, loss of underlying fat resulting in hollow cheeks and eye socket and a slowing of collagen and elastin production

Exposed To UV Damage and Other Extrinsic Elements 

Aging caused by this will culminate in a thickened epidermis resulting in rough, leathery skin, telangiectasia (dilated blood vessels), yellow, sallow coloration and age spots.  There is an increased risk of skin cancer and a degradation of collagen and elastin.

As you can see, how you will age is contingent on several factors, most of which are preventable. ¬†Sunscreen is and will continue to be one of the most powerful products in your skin care arsenal. ¬†The best news, it’s also the most cost effective!