Tuesday, March 18, 2014

see spot run, part 1

Note: I'm just going to preface this post by telling you it's long and wordy but there is a lot of information to cover when it comes to pigmentation and I'm barely scratching the surface! Dark spots, liver spots, age spots, hyper-pigmentation, sun spots, old acne spots/scars/staining, pregnancy mask/melasma... call them annoying and you've got it right. No, these aren't the cute freckles that are lightly smattered across your nose. They're the dark, misshapen spots that pop up on your hands and around your forehead. They creep up one day on the side of your face (most likely the left side if you drive a lot) and all of a sudden you're using way more concealer than you ever thought possible.

I heard it takes 15 years for a spot to be visible on the surface of your skin. Whether this is entirely accurate or not is TBD but I do know spots are stubborn and require time to remove. Now do you think one product will take it away in 15 days?! Unless you're considering a laser treatment, it's time to have realistic expectations from products that treat pigmentation issues.

In part 1 of this post I'll focus on natural ingredients and products that treat and correct hyper-pigmentation.
So what causes pigmentation? Typically it's sun damage. A common misconception is that most of your sun damage happened when you were a little kid and no one knew the harmful effects of the sun, so sunscreen wasn't enforced, right?
While this is partially true, UV damage is happening right now, indoors. Your lights, the computer screen... there's UV rays around you all the time and if you're not consistently wearing a sunscreen then you're at risk for pigmentation, and then some.

Pregnancy is another way that pigment, called melasma, is produced. Melasma, aka pregnancy mask, can be patchy and more than just a spot. Most doctors will tell you it'll go away eventually but I've seen some women struggle with it for years after giving birth. All of the lighteners in this post will be safe to use before, during and after you're pregnant.

Acne can also cause pigmentation, or otherwise staining. After the acne bump is gone, there's usually a dark mark where the spot was. If you picked at the blemish than the dark stain may take even longer to go away. The good news is there are a lot of oil-free lighteners that will help clear the acne staining while not clogging the skin.

The nice thing about using a natural lightener is that it is safe to use all the time, year in and year out, pregnant or not pregnant. There are also some added anti-aging benefits associated with some of these ingredients, which is nothing short of a two-front strike. Let's look at some ingredients to help gently remove the spots.

Vitamin C- there's a reason this is called the BLT ingredient: it Brightens, Lightens and Tightens. Vitamin C is fantastic at breaking up surface pigmentation while stimulating collagen, so it's definitely a double-duty ingredient.

Kojic acid- derived from Japanese mushrooms and is considered the best natural alternative to hydroquinone because it stops the enzyme that produces the pigment.

Licorice root- reduces inflammation and decreases the production of melanin.

Niacinimide- (aka Vitamin B3) this ingredient does so much for your skin. It reduces inflammation, making it ideal for acne and rosacea sufferers. It also reduces pigmentation, stimulates collagen and increases the production of ceramides to avoid hydration loss.

I'm only featuring serums that are for brightening and the reason is this: serums have a thinner viscosity so they penetrate much deeper into the skin, giving you maximum results.

Dr. Weil for Origins Mega-Bright Skin Tone Correcting Serum- uses a Rosa Roxburghii complex, from a rose, which is full of Vitamin's A, C and E and essential fatty acids for brightening. 

Garnier Skin Renew Dark Spot Corrector- uses Vitamin C to correct pigmentation. 

Caudalie Vinoperfect Radiance Serum- uses Vineferine, which is sap from a grapevine, and is more powerful at brightening than Vitamin C.

Ole Henriksen Truth Serum Collagen Booster- is full of powerful antioxidants like Vitamin C, E and green tea for breaking up pigmentation while rosehips extract strengthens Vitamin C to make it even more powerful.

Tata Harper Concentrated Brightening Serum- uses flower botanicals, antioxidants and root extracts to keep the skin brighter and firmer.

Dr. Perricone Vitamin C Ester 15- Vitamin C Ester is patented by Dr. Perricone because Vitamin C Ester is water and fat soluble, so it can penetrate the cells entirely. Brightening and anti-aging are guaranteed with this product.

When using these products expect to see results about 8-12 weeks in, or practically when you're finished with the bottle. And just like you can't keep that toned tummy if you don't go to the gym, it's the same with these products. Also, pigmentation is always brought out by the sun (hello tan) so if you don't want those spots to come back after all your hard-earned effort then wear sunscreen! And I mean sunscreen that's SPF 30. Every. Day. If you're spending the day at the pool then SPF 30 reapplied every 2 hours is a must. Even better if you're wearing a hat, a cute cover-up and stay under the shaded umbrella. Because wouldn't it be such a waste of your time and money to let one afternoon in the sun bring back all those spots you just got rid of during the winter?

Ok, if you've already tried some of these lighteners and haven't seen the results you want then part 2, tomorrow, is your answer. I'll focus on retinol and chemical lighteners, mainly hydorquinone, and when and if you need this.

Are you concerned with pigmentation? Have you used any products that work for you?

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