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

My Face Serum May or May Not Contain Foreskin; Advances in Skincare

Scanning over the ingredients of my super luxe TNS Essential Serum I see that it has Human Fibroblast Conditioned Media at the top of the list. Could this strangely sounding element really be why the serum is know to be so effective (not to mention pricey at $260 a pop)? And is it the skincare equivalent of Soylent Green? Is it really made from humans?

Actually, I think it is.

SkinMedica, the company that makes TNS calls Human Fibroblast Conditioned Media ‘ A physiologically balanced, naturally secreted and stabilized growth factor blend that helps improve the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and overall skin tone and texture.’ Googling around gives some mixed results; it’s thought by some to be derived from newborn babies’ foreskin (!), but I can’t find a clear explanation about its origin and the company isn’t giving details so the jury is out. Since it’s listed as ‘human’ on the ingredient lineup, I’ll assume it’s something of the sort however it’s derived.

While the use of young stem cells is gaining some serious traction on the scientific front in age reversal research, some companies who can afford to purchase the technology (like SkinMedica) are starting to offer products that are more cutting edge than ever. TNS Essential Serum isn’t new and has developed a bunch of crazed loyalists claiming that it has made their skin look 15 years younger and that they’ve tried to do without it but because of the cost, but they eventually return when they discover nothing else works as well. Its function is to repair and protect by fading discolorations, improving skin tone and texture while also preventing future damage – it’s a do-it-all (better be for the cost right?) replacing other creams and serums and narrowing down the steps to your routine.

I’m only a few weeks into using it during the day, it replaced my C serum and moisturizer and does a good job of hydrating and priming the skin for makeup. It has two separate chambers inside so when you pump it out you get a serum from one side of the bottle and a light lotion from the other that you mix together and apply. I hear the scent has recently changed which is good because it stinks. Really stinks (like foreskin?). But the scent fades and you don’t smell it any longer after it’s blended in.

It’s too early to tell if it’s making a difference, but it’s worth a shot. Because I’m pregnant I’m off Botox and my skin has been lackluster to say the least so I’m hoping for a miracle in a jar. I’ll keep you posted with an update in a few months to see if it works as well as they say.

Best Skin Lighteners for Fading Discolorations

I’m slowly starting to figure out that the all-natural stuff just doesn’t make my skin look as good as it does when I throw something more advanced its way. I’d love nothing more than to use straight nuts and berries on my face, but unfortunately it’s not helping to fade out some old scarring and redness I have going on. Believe me, I’ve tried.

In the cluttered skincare landscape filled with claims and promises, I can say that skin lighteners typically live up to their hype and are worth a try. There are so many ways to fade out age sun spots (sounds nicer), scars, discolorations and add more clarity and tons of radiance, it’s just a matter of finding something that works for your skin (and budget). I’ve put together a list of skin lighteners I’ve tried and ones I hear work great- look into them to see which might be best for the changes you’d like to make in your skin.

Ole Henriksen Sheer Transformation $45:

I’ve read so much about this line and heard stories from people who are crazy devoted so I bought Sheer Transformation to see if I can kick out the last of my scarring and redness. It’s especially effective when used over Invigorating Night Gel but I use it over Obagi Exfoderm Forte that also has Glycolic and Lactic acids for cell turnover and brightening so it’s along the same lines. It’s a weightless gel/cream that absorbs quickly and gives your skin a dose of vitamins, fruit acids, and licorice for non-chemical fading and brightening. I love the way it feels so far, can’t wait to see the results.


Murad Rapid Age Spot and Pigment Lightening Serum $60:

Murad’s serum uses known skin lightener Hydroquinone (2.0%) for a quicker approach to fading out those age spots within weeks. Most people in their trials saw a difference in their spots in just two weeks in fact. If you’re looking for something to work quickly and effectively, this is a serum to check out. There’s still some back and forth about the safety of Hydroquinone (typically when it’s used in a much higher concentration), but it’s still regarded by many as the gold standard for skin lightening.


Estée Lauder Idealist $85:

Idealist has been the most effective in fading out the freckles on my chest that I’ve had since forever. It uses a more gentle approach so the results aren’t instant but if you hang with it you’ll definitely see even, more radiant skin in about a month with better and better looking skin over time. $85 is an investment, but so are the laser treatments I was looking into. I’m glad I found something much less invasive for a lot less money.

Iman Time Control Skin Tone Evener $16:

This treatment is the least expensive of the bunch and hydroquinone free. It’s meant for all skin tones, but it’s especially effective for fading spots on darker skin tones which can be harder to lighten.

Kiehl’s Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution $50:

Clearly Corrective is a new lightening serum free of silicones, fragrance, and parabens using vitamin c and white birch to get skin glowing. You should see some changes in just a few weeks with full results after 8, and continued use will help keep future spotting away.

Spots and uneven tone are easy problems to fix, so start with a skin evening treatment before thinking about Botox or more invasive things. You might find that your skin looks so great, you don’t need to do anything else.

New From Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare and Peter Thomas Roth

A few new launches have caught my eye recently in a vast landscape of ‘more of the same.’ I haven’t tried either one, but I’m looking forward to checking out new innovations by two companies I’ve grown to really love.

Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare has a new Vitamin D Serum Oil $65 for those of us who are so good with sunscreen that the sun’s own vitamins can’t penetrate to nourish the skin. I was way low on D years ago because I’m a crazed SPF weirdo and now take a vitamin D daily, but haven’t explored using it topically until seeing this serum. It’s formulated to be available to the skin without sunlight and they mixed it with Vitamins A, E, B, CoQ10, as well as Glycolic and Ferulic Acids to get some hydrating and brightening benefits in there as well.

Peter Thomas Roth added a new addition to their way popular Un-Wrinkle line to hydrate and brighten up dull skin. Illuminator Instant Brightening Moisturizer $68 combines 3 color correcting shades of light pigment that blend with the skin to brighten dullness and neutralize redness. For me, the home-run is the combo of a wrinkle fighter with a skin perfecter – I love multi-tasking skincare that helps your skin to look great so you don’t need to use as much makeup in the end.

Because It’s Worth It… Where to Spend a Little More Money

If you haven’t watched the adorable Marcel The Shell video that’s such a huge hit on YouTube – you have to check it out below (and click HERE to see it if you get this post delivered via email). The the couple who produces it has already written a book and is in talks to develop a series staring their lovable one-eyed shell after just 2 videos. I watch it religiously. It just makes me smile.

http://youtu.be/Ta9K22D0o5Q

My favorite line is at the end when he says he smiles because it’s worth it. Which caused a mental domino about what’s really ‘worth it’ in terms of popping the lock off the wallet and spending a little more for an investment in your skin looking great. I’m not someone who thinks you have to spend a ton to look great – I recommend drugstore finds as often as department store ones – but there are a few exceptions that are so great that I’ll spend the extra cash because I know they’re worth it.

Chantecaille Future Skin Foundation:

I’m scraping the bottom of my jar of Chantecaille Future Skin that I got almost 2 years ago. I heard so much about their foundations that I purchased the jar at a counter not knowing it was $72 and then tried to play it off when she told me my total like it wasn’t twice as much as I’d ever spent on foundation. I quickly discovered that after I tried every type of foundation that passed my desk, I’d happily return to Future Skin. Its coverage is fantastic, staying power terrific, and the look of it is so natural – which might be because it’s made of 60% water and seaweed. The higher price tag could be attributed to its treatment benefits like reducing sebum and calming redness with chamomile and green tea – but who knows. All I know is that I’m mentally preparing for another $72 purchase very soon, but at least this time I know it’s worth it.

Liz Earle Cleanser:

Cleanse & Polish, the cleanser that I’ve referred to as ‘near perfect,’ is so worth an order from the UK based Liz Earle (or from Fred Segal Santa Monica- their only stateside location I know of.) It’s not a pricey buy at $25 for a 3.3oz pump (and around $7 to ship), it’s the ordering that makes it a little more of a challenge than grabbing a bottle at a store like we’re all so used to doing. I’m so addicted to this thick, creamy, lightly Eucalyptus scented gentle cleanser which removes all makeup so effortlessly, that when I try out a new cleanser to review it’s what I measure them all against. It’s a gold standard for a cleanser and one that’s so popular they have an automatic refill service and also a 3 pack available to make getting this perfect cleanser as easy as possible.

SkinCeuticals Serums:

SkinCeuticals is renowned for their high-potency, crazy effective serums designed to correct, fade, protect, and calm – whatever your skin happens to need. Their C E Ferulic is probably their best known do-it-all serum with vitamins C and E and Ferulic acid to protect the skin against environmental damage and skin aging. They use the purest, best forms of vitamins (like L-Ascorbic for their C) for maximum benefits and create combinations with other vitamins and acids for the very best skin absorption. Serums compliment any skincare routine and are so beneficial using only a few drops a day making them worth their $100- $150 cost.

Estée Lauder Eye Creams:

Eyes show age. It’s that simple. Getting that thin skin moisturized and protected is important, as is finding an eye cream that has some beneficial ingredients and proven science. So many eye creams are a complete waste – basically just plain moisturizers in a smaller jar without any true benefits. I trust and love Lauder’s eye creams – they have something for every skin type and concern, but their Re-Nutriv eye creams are their supreme offerings. With too much science in them to explain (or understand, really) I just know that when I use a Lauder eye cream, I can see the difference. I can waste money $35 at a time with something that isn’t working, or just fork out the $100 (ish) to see a difference and keep the Botox away a little bit longer.

Don’t worry, I’m also rounding up a ‘not worth it list’ (hello mascara!!) so you can save your pennies on things that are all pretty much the same.

Priori Cellular Recovery Serum

Cellular Recovery Serum. You really can’t tell by the name what this wonder serum does, but it kind of just does it all. It’s Priori’s booster treatment, meaning it fits in with whatever your current skincare routine happens to be. Just a few pumps will, as they say, ‘mimic DNA repair enzymes to help reverse damage done to the skin by free radicals.’

Whew. That’s a lot of science going on

Instead of trying to give you a science lesson for which I am totally under-qualified, I divvied up the serum 3 ways and gave it out to a friend and 2 clients to get their take on what it did for their skin over a period of weeks. What I heard was all positive, with one purported miracle. One client in her 50′s said that within weeks her skin looked more radiant and she used less makeup as a result. She said it gave her hope that using good skincare could make enough of an impact so she could stop using Botox. Another in her late 30′s said that her skin was much smoother and she had fewer dry patches that typically appear this time of year. But a friend in her 50′s said the stuff was a downright miracle and she could definitely see fewer wrinkles and sun spots. She loves it and says she’ll continue to use it and even explore the rest of the line.

So there you have it. Smoother, radiant, less wrinkled skin. Sounds like good stuff, too bad I gave it all away..

You can find more info on the serum HERE and search for a retailer (typically a doctor) in your area HERE.