My uneven pigmentation is the bane of my life! No matter how clear or bright my skin is, all I see when I look in the mirror are sun-induced splotches all over my face caused by sun abuse from years gone by. That’s the irony actually; I stopped sunbathing 8 years ago (with no real signs of sun damage) and have religiously worn a daily spf on my face ever since, but the deep damage caused in my teens and early 20s is working its way to the surface and becoming *very* noticeable to me.
Let’s be clear, I’m not a hater of freckles, in fact I think they can look incredibly beautiful but there is a huge difference between a spatter of neat freckles trailing across a nose and uneven splodges covering an entire face and eyelids- this is pigmentation damage, and ‘damage’ is not a word I want associated with my skin!
For mild pigmentation issues there are some amazing products on the market now; a targeted moisturiser and exfoliant will have you brightened up in no time. I like the Murad Intensive C Radiance Peel for exfoliating (don’t be put off by the word ‘peel’ it is simply an enzymatic exfoliant rather than a physical, i.e. scrub, exfoliant). Vitamin C is essential for pigmentation control as it is the only free-radical-fighting vitamin the body can use to protect against UV rays. Vitamin C also stimulates collagen and is anti-inflammatory, which is exactly what damaged skin needs. The Murad peel is fantastic at slothing off dead cells and noticeably brightening the skin but it is ESSENTIAL to use a high spf after any exfoliating product otherwise you are leaving your fresh new cells vulnerable to new damage, defeating the object! To moisturise, the SKN-RG Advanced Brightening Moisturiser is very, very clever, its unique Ultra Luminance Complex actually helps to inhibit melanin production (melanin is what determines the darkness in colour of the skin) making new pigmentation marks less visible. It also brightens the skin and targets fine lines and wrinkles! It has quite an unusual smell but I choose results over smell any day!
For more serious pigmentation problems, the only way you will get rid of it completely is with a laser I’m afraid. Chemicals peels can help, dermaroller has a good result, as does mesotherapy (injecting vitamin cocktails directly into effected areas) but the only thing I have ever seen to actually clear the skin, is a laser. The big problem with lasers though, is the ‘downtime’ needed after a treatment. Downtime is simply time where you might want to hide away! It is when the skin looks and feels very red and sore, and can possibly peel or flake off. Hence why I have not gone down that road before!
So when I heard about the Picoway Resolve Laser Treatment that rejuvenates the skin, clears pigmentation damage and has no downtime, I didn’t hesitate to try it! Originally designed for tattoo removal, the Picoway has been getting amazing results with pigmentation issues too. Without getting too techy; the Picoway uses the shortest picosecond pulse duration laser, which basically means it doesn’t penetrate too deeply, enabling it to clear up surface imperfections (including minor scarring) as well as penetrating the epidermis for skin rejuvenation. It doesn’t create nearly as much heat as other lasers (it is the heat that creates the post treatment redness/soreness) which is why there is no downtime. That’s not to say you won’t be a bit red for a few days, you may even have some little blood spots and your pigmentation will probably look darker initially but all this can easily be covered with makeup if needed. I have had 2 treatments so far and the results are incredible, my skin looks so much fresher! Dark patches are looking paler yet my skin overall is looking brighter, I still have a lot of ‘freckles’ but they look neater somehow and less dominant to my complexion. A course of 3-6 is recommended for the best results.
The most important thing to take into consideration when choosing to have any kind of ‘intense’ treatment is your pre and post skin prep. To head off to your local medispa without preparing your skin first and without planning your aftercare is asking for trouble, in fact you will probably end up in a worse condition than before you started. When I was working as a skincare therapist, I would never book anyone in for a chemical peel unless they were using an antioxidant on their skin for at least 2 weeks before treatment (I’ve even asked people to quit smoking before a peel as cigarettes deplete all the body’s vitamin C reserves! I was very strict!) and I would make sure they were using spf 50 every day. My antioxidant of choice was always Skinceuticals Phloretin CF or the Skinceuticals Serum 10 for more sensitive skins. Antioxidants fight free-radicals (environmental skin agers) to protect the skin and help prevent further damage. The most effective of the intense treatments are the ones that cause a superficial wound to the skin, thus tricking it into repairing itself and therefore rejuvenating. So it is paramount that your skin is in good health beforehand as the healthier it is the easier and better it will respond to repairing the ‘wound’.
The skin is at its most vulnerable to further damage immediately post laser so protecting it and reducing inflammation is the priority. Swisscode Bionic Stem Cell Recovering Complex is a miracle in a bottle! It contains Summer Lilac which is one of the most potent anti-inflammatory ingredients there are and stem cells to repair damage, I have a feeling it contains a bit of magic too because I have never used anything with such rapid results before! Another winner from Swisscode is the Swisscode Pure Kiribirth, this serum will further reduce the pigmentation damage using amino acids, algae and a range of antioxidants to supress excess melanin- it’s a fantastic product and a range really worth looking out for (Dr Nigma Talib is an ambassador of the brand, need I say more?!).
The products and treatments available these days are so incredible and can make ‘filtered’ complexions a real life possibility but pleeease take precautions, invest in the extra products needed and protect, protect, protect!
Murad Intensive C Radiance Peel £49.50 www.murad.co.uk
SKN-RG Advanced Brightening Moisturiser £49.50 www.skn-rg.com
Picoway Resolve Laser Treatment from £200 per treatment www.pulselightclinic.co.uk
Skinceuticals Phloretin CF £150, Skinceuticals Serum 10 £75 www.skinceuticals.co.uk
P.S Don’t let your hands be a giveaway! Treat sun-damaged hands with Elemental Herbology Hand Nutrition £16 www.elementalherbology.com