Stuff I Buy: Fighting Discoloration Naturally

When will this damn melasma go away? It’s such an uphill battle fighting skin discoloration in the summer, even with an SPF 50 on every day. I’m outside so much that I know I’ll have to wait a few months before another round of lasers to get deeper than any skincare can, but until then I’m hoping a few things I grabbed this week will help get my skin to get back to a more radiant state.

Oz Naturals Vitamin C Serum

I’ve never heard of this line before and I’m not even sure where it’s sold other than online, but it’s an Amazon.com bestseller with 1,400+ glowing reviews. Oh, and it’s only $23. It’s an organic vitamin c, amino acid blend, and hyaluronic acid serum that people swear gives them more a radiant skin texture. Could it be a big marketing campaign from people within the company leaving false feedback? Sure, it happens on amazon all the time. But there are a ton of verified customers who left great feedback, enough to get my money and see for myself.

oz naturals

Skin Obsession 40% Gycolic Peel

Yet another amazon.com best seller for skin peels, a huge sort of underground category on there for skin. They’re basically professional caliber peels available to the public from companies I’ve never heard of before. Totally legit right? Again, the reviews got me- 400+ singing the praises of how well this peel worked. Basically, I’m using it for my melasma, fine lines, and overall texture which is still not back to normal since my pregnancies. There’s just a dullness and blah to my skin that makes me look tired and probably old which really sucks. The great thing about peels is that the acid (whether it be glycolic, lactic, or whatever) dissolves the waxy layer of oil and dead skin that builds up on your face over time (why consistent exfoliation is key!) and gives that dull, dry, wrinkly look. Once that’s removed you’re left with a fresh layer of new skin that looks more radiant and less lined. Do a ton of research (I’ve looked for over a year) and google around. I was going to go with a peel from THIS line, but after reading several times how they plant positive reviews from within their company I decided it was best to skip it. Just follow their directions to a T which includes knowing how to neutralize the peel once it’s on otherwise you could end up with permanent burns and even scarring.

skin obsession

Éminence Eight Greens Whip Moisturizer

My girl Alexa, an aesthetician to Denver’s who’s who over at the swanky Spa Vital in Cherry Creek has been an Éminence fan for as long as I’ve known her. After my facial today she sold me on their Eight Greens moisturizer which has a thick, almost balm-like texture that dissolved into my skin so completely and left it looking really fresh and hydrated and I didn’t even get that typical afternoon shine. It addresses tone and aging using natural ingredients like yucca, stone crop, and flaxseed. It’s a really cool line with a big upscale spa presence that you can check out HERE if you’ve never heard of it before.

eminence

Éminence Lemon Cleanser

Alexa turned me onto this cleanser like 8 years ago. It’s a cream that doesn’t foam up (which is why I think I quit using it) but now that I’m older, I can finally appreciate a cleanser that cleans without stripping and drying. This one does that and also happens to have the best slightly sweet and tangy lemon scent that I just adore.

eminence lemon cleanser

Next up; more laser research on CO2 vs Fraxel. I think I’ll wait until October so I have a little time. Tweet me your thoughts if you’ve tried either before and had a great result.

Best Products to Use After a Laser Treatment (and for Sensitive Skin)

Yesterday I did it- I got the Blue Light Levulan Photodynamic Therapy treatment (this little website actually explains it pretty well). I chose it last minute over the professional micro needling because of how it gives a more complete skin rejuvenation and prevents skin cancer (more on that with a complete before and after later). For now, let’s talk about the skincare given to me right after the treatment to use on my very compromised and ultra-sensitive skin. If this is what docs are giving to patients whose skin shouldn’t even be exposed to sunlight, then those of you with sensitized skin might want to take note, there may be a good solution in here for you too.

Elta MD UV Facial SPF 30: This is a brand I’ve never heard of before, but clicking around today I saw that this SPF is a cult fav that people swear by. I read over and again how it was suggested by a doctor for those who had a reaction to sunscreen or were acne-prone. I haven’t used it yet, but it’s a line I’m excited to check out especially seeing that it was chosen as a best-of by the EWG this year.

Vanicream SPF 60: I bought a sunscreen of theirs a few years ago after searching for a safe physical SPF, it was a fav of beauty editors and the EWG alike. A physical block means it has zinc and titanium dioxide to protect the skin from the sun (like the white stuff lifeguards used to use on their noses), versus a chemical block which uses things like avobenzone and oxybenzone which can be irritating to sensitive skin. If you have any sort of skin reaction at all from sunscreens, switch to a physical block where you might have more luck.

Auuaphor Healing Ointment: Of course I already had some of this all-purpose healing ointment on hand because I use it on my lips and cuticles, but I’d never used it on my face. Since it isn’t fully absorbed into the skin, it acts as a barrier to lock in much needed moisture to create an ideal environment for my skin to heal. It’s not something I’d use on my face long-term of course but if your skin isn’t responding well to anything else you might give it a try.

Dove Sensitive Skin: They also had Vanicream Cleansing Bars which I would’ve preferred because it doesn’t contain sodium tallowate, but they gave me the Dave Sensitive Body Wash too which is sodium tallowate free. The Dove wash is what I’ve used a few times already and it didn’t sting or burn and cleansed the ointment off pretty well without leaving my skin dry. For just $9, the Dove wash would be perfect to throw in the shower and use on both face and body every day.

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I’m sequestered to the house for another day, but I’m vlogging and taking pics of my face (which resembles raw meat) so I can show the world… Now I understand why I couldn’t find but 3 people who posted video diaries to YouTube (only 1 woman btw) after having this done. You look like shit which isn’t the most fun thing to share, but whatever- it’s interesting and if you’re looking to have it done you should probably know what to expect. Vanity is overrated.

Professional Micro Needling and Q&A with Dr. Theresa Pacheco

The search is over! I’ve been looking for a doctor I can trust for about a year to help with my pigmentation and get my skin back to where it was just a few years ago. Having a baby made it worse, I swear my skin aged 5 years from the melasma and hormone stuff that go along with pregnancy. Anyway, I’m almost 7 months post-delivery so I figured now is a good time to explore what my options are as far as a safe (I’m still nursing!) treatment to get my skin back on track.

My facialist Tjaden Lotito couldn’t say enough great things about Dr. Theresa Pacheco. She’s an M.D., professor of Dermatology, and researcher on all things related to aging and damaged skin at the University of Colorado Anchutz campus. She knows the skin and non-surgical treatments as well or better than anyone else you’ll find. I liked her right away, she’s down-to-earth and a wealth of knowledge who isn’t there to sell you on anything (they don’t offer packages and I didn’t see any product lines anywhere), just to educate you on what your options are and offer the least invase way to achieve what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for fluff, frills, and a water with cucumber in your glass sort of experience- this isn’t it as you can see by their website, they’re all about the medical side of skin. It’s exactly what I was hoping for.

Dr. Pacheco

Dr. Pacheco

I walked in to see Dr. Pacheco already knowing what I wanted: Fraxel. The ultimate in laser treatments. I’d researched it, I knew all about it, and wouldn’t accept anything else. Fire the thing up and start zapping, I’m ready to go! After a quick look at my skin she said she could do a laser treatment and loves what lasers do for the skin, but I also had other options. One being a combo laser treatment with levulinic acid that would basically give me new skin but has quite a bit of downtime. The other was medical micro needling (aka Derma Rolling!) Now you know I love me some derma rolling and have one at home that I use. The medical treatment isn’t the same as what you do at home though because her instrument has longer needles to create deeper channels in the skin which forces even more repair and better results. Basically, I go in and have a numbing cream put on my skin for about 20 minutes then she rolls the hell out of my skin poking a zillion little holes in it (yes, there is some bleeding) which tells my body to go and make new skin to heal that damage. By the time I leave, my skin will just be a bit red and swollen like a sunburn, and then over the next few weeks and even months I will see an improvement in overall skin quality especially pigment and even fine lines. I can keep up with the results by using great skincare with my at-home roller a few times a week. After seeing some before and after pictures that were pretty impressive, that’s what I ended up choosing. I’m so exited because the cost of this treatment is so much less than I expected to spend and we’re just doing one for now to see how it goes. It’s so important to see someone whose paycheck isn’t dependent upon selling you a service. If you’re in Colorado, this is where I recommend you go, otherwise check out similar doctors and clinics in your area.

A micro needle aka derma roller.

A micro needle aka derma roller.

She was also nice enough to answer a few questions I sent her way about treating different skin issues. Check out what she has to say, and click HERE to see her services and to make an appointment.

Q. What treatments do you recommend for pigmentation issues?

A. Medical therapy – Vitamin C but only if a proper concentration. Vitamin A’s but only formulated appropriately. Also, a light device/laser  depending on Fitzpatrick Skin Type and whether the pigment is epidermal or dermal to decide if certain light devices or lasers would work. Old fashioned chemical peels also work, but again they need to be properly formatted with the correct ph and free acid (this is my chemistry brain talking).

Sidenote: Right after I saw her I went and bought SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic, a proven C serum that all doctors I’ve talked to rave about. Don’t skimp on C serums, many are just a waste of money.

C E Ferulic

Q. What are your favorite ingredients that make the biggest difference in the skin?

A. Vitamin A but only when it’s formulated appropriately.Vitamin C but only if formulated with another antioxidant and a proper concentration. There are many other products that have benefit but it really depends on what difference you want to make in regards to skin health.

Sidenote: I’m using Vivant Exfol-A serum at night. An excellent vitamin A formulation that’s really concentrated and doesn’t make my skin red or flakey like Retin A does. I also use it with my derma roller so it has even better penetration.

vivant

Q. What about treatments for acne?

A. Medical therapy , alpha hydroxyl acids, Vitamin A, and anti-inflammatory agents. Light device/laser, but there is no laser/light device approved for acne treatment and covered by insurance. FDA device approval is very different than FDA pharmaceutical approval. The ‘heat dispersion’ from the devices control active acne lesions (red pustules, cysts, but not black heads and white heads). The no!no!™ skin device was the 1st device on the market that used ‘heat’ to control active acne lesions. Old fashioned chemical peels work, but again they need to be properly formatted with the correct ph and free acid (this is my chemistry brain talking again!)

Sidenote: I reviewed the no!no! years ago when it first came out and I love it for hair removal, I didn’t know I could be using it on my face?! Glycolic acid is awesome and Glytone tells you exactly how much Glycolic (aka Alpha Hydroxyl Acid) you’re getting in each product. I’m using their cleanser and moisturizer.

glytone

I’m hoping to schedule a treatment for next week where I’ll take pictures (maybe a video?) of the treatment and post it along with some before and after pics as the weeks progress. If you have any questions about micro needling or any other skin treatment, leave them in the comment section and I’ll get them answered for you!

If Angelina Jolie Dermarolls, So Shall I

In my laser-obsessed haze I totally forgot about my Dermaroller. I got it a while back from my estician extrodinare Tjaden at the Skin Studio here in Denver, but we waited to use it until my face had calmed down and gotten to a more peaceful state like it is now. Pigmentation issues aside, pregnancy really cleared up my skin – I hardly had a breakout the whole time and my skin is still in a good place now 11 days out from delievery (fingers crossed!)

Anyway, this little roller is covered in fine point needles designed to create micro punctures in the skin so it’s forced to heal itself which then brings new skin in that looks even better. It’s the same principle that’s behind laser treatments, just a different means of getting those results. It works for stretch marks, acne scars, pigmentation, and keloid scarring. I was Googling around getting more info about it when I saw THIS LA TImes piece about how well it works and how celebs like Angelina Jolie attribute their great skin to Dermarolling (a.k.a. microneedling) so I was excited to know that I already own a really effective treatment that I can use to start tackling my melasma right away.

I’ve totally oversimplified what it does, the article explains it better as does this vid from the show The Doctors below.

Here’s mine.


The box


The roller


The size

I’ll consult with Tjaden to get a specific regimen, but I’ve already used it a few times on my chest where i have some freckles (a nice way to say ‘sun damage’) but I only did one pass, not the back and forth like THIS article says to do. I also don’t know what to put on over it once I’ve rolled. If you use something like a straight vitamin c serum, it might be too acidic and burn my skin (!) since it’s all opened and vulnerable. Some say that the rolling is enough though and not to worry about products on top. I have some scary ‘before’ pics of my melasma from the delivery room with no makeup and my pigmentation in all of its glory, I’ll let the rolling begin and hopefully have some good ‘afters’ before long.

Do some research before getting one on the size of needles, construction, how to clean it, etc., HERE is a bunch of rollers on Amazon.com that start at around $20.

I’ve Had the Baby, Now I Can Get Back to Looking Normal Again

D-Day came and went and now we have an 8 pound 3 ounce bundle of adorableness that has us totally in love and barely able to concentrate on anything else. So as long as I have some time focused here at my computer (she’s napping) I might as well make good use and let you know what I’ve been cooking up for my skin to get rid of the melasma and its general crappy, dull state. I didn’t think much about melasma since I was faithful to great skincare, but maybe it’s because I was busy being smug about escaping stuff like stretch marks and heartburn that melasma was hardly a worry. Not so lucky. The day before I delivered last week, I was having brunch with my sister who asked only the way sisters can ‘when did that discoloration start?’ Thanks. Better though than my 98 year old grandma in the hospital room remarking about how I ‘still looked pregnant.’ My family keeps my ego in check. Anyhow, even with 2 coats of good coverage, the damage is pretty noticeable especially on my un-Botoxed forehead.

Until I can wrap up this breast feeding thing, I’ll remain un-Botoxed but will start to fight the best (and safest way) I know how. Starting with the big guns. Lasers.

My pregnant sleepless nights were spent perusing nursery ideas on various sites, finding decor on Etsy, and researching the best kind of laser to use for getting my skin back on track. Fraxel remains the gold standard for overall skin rejuvenation including wrinkles, age spots, acne scars, and melasma. It takes care of it all in just a few treatments without the horrendous downtime that you’d get from say a peel or other lasers. You will get red – sunburn red – but nothing too disgusting where you have to hide out in your house for a week (not that I’m exactly hitting the town these days). A word to the wise, lasers hurt. When I did some IPL a while back they said it would feel like rubber bands snapping against the skin which was total bullshit, it was more like someone flicking lighted matches at me. Again, totally worth it if it works. And a nice chemical-free way to get my skin heading in the right direction without Botox or chemicals I shouldn’t use because I’d be essentially feeding it to the baby.

I stashed a bottle of Estée Lauder’s Idealist they sent me to review a while back for this very thing after I saw that it was working to fade spotting. It quickly gets rid of all sorts of discolorations on the skin and feels and smells amazing. I’ll use it during the day under my SPF that’s so essential to prevent more damage from happening.

If your skin needs changing, use Vivant. I swear it made a huge difference in my skin years ago when I was faithful to the line (which is hard when trying new things is your job), but everything they have is medical grade and reasonably inexpensive. Their Exfol-A is what I’ll be using for a kick of Vitamin A without having to use Retin A which is set in a cheap cream base that breaks me out every time I try to use it. This serum combines A with Lactic, Uric, and Kojic Acids – all known to fade discolorations and give skin a pretty glow.

I’ve lost so much hair this pregnancy that it’s actually really sad. The combo of my crazy thyriod and the estrogen going out the window after the birth has resulted in literally half of my hair falling out. There were a few times when I would cry after a shower just watching the massive amounts of hair being washed down the drain or combed away. Luckily my stylist Carrie works for Aveda and raves about their new collection for thinning hair called Invati. It’s supposed to reduce hair loss and help to regrow hair using a natural formula and she promised that if I stuck to it that it would work. I hope so. My hair’s my thing, yo.

I’m sure I can use a lot more to try and get myself back to looking somewhat human again, but I’m supposed to be simplifying my routine and not making it more complicated. What am I missing? Tweet me your beauty suggestions for post-baby beauty @HookedOnBeauty