Yes, I am still raging the war on my pigmentation, and for me I think it will be a continuous battle but thankfully, one I am winning, thanks to the amazing treatments and products I have discovered and have been lucky enough to try over the last few years.
I say ‘continuous’ for a few reasons; 1, is that I am just predisposed to it genetically -my face is naturally freckly but not in the pretty and delicate Megan Markel way (which I LOVE), no, mine are more the pale, splodgey variety of freckle, which personally I don’t like (on myself). 2, Hormonal factors come in to play -my hormones are ridiculously unbalanced (and I’m a PCOS gal) which effects pigment formation/distribution, often leading to darker patches on the skin. But lastly and most significantly, 3, I totally abused the sun in my late teens and early twenties, creating major pigmentation damage deep within the skin that, despite wearing spf 30-50 everyday for the past 10 years, still rears it’s ugly head as it works its way to the surface year on year. My bad.
I have tried a few different lasers and peels over the years, and I’ve had good results with many (not all) of them, but they have never fully cleared the pigmentation. Likewise, I’ve seen a big improvement in my complexion with the use of retinol and dermarollering but pesky patches of pigment still remain.
I’ve been wanting to try the Obagi Nu-Derm System (for pigmentation, anti-ageing and adult acne, (ideal for PCOS sufferers)) for a while now, but the timing has never been right for me – what with other treatment reviews (such as laser, which can be a contraindication), sun holidays (sun must be as avoided as much as possible) and attending special events (your skin can look worse before it gets better), so, although being in awe of the results shown in 100% untouched before and after pictures, I’ve just never gotten around to it. Well, maybe I wasn’t the only one, because Obagi have recently launched the Obagi-C Rx System, which is not only possibly better suited to my skin for pigmentation, fine lines, loss of youthful glow and future UV protection but is also suitable for use throughout the summer months!
I went along to the famous Rita Rakus Clinic in Knightsbridge, where my skin was assessed with a Visia machine to analyse and record function, health and damage. My results were looking really impressive, with nice high numbers (the higher the better) in hydration 67%, wrinkles 72% (woohoo!), texture 80%, hygiene 72% and pores 65%, but when it came to the UV damage and brown spots results……well! Brown spots was at 1% (0 is the absolute worst) and UV was 6%!! Gutted! To look at me you would never imagine it would be that bad, and I always keep my face out of the sun now, but as I mentioned before- the sun abuse from the past is very much there, deep within the skin, edging its way to the surface.
Dr Rakus then prescribed me my Obagi-C Rx System (certain systems by Obagi can only be purchased by qualified practioners), consisting of a Cleansing Gel, a Clarifying Serum, Exfoliating Day Lotion and Therapy Night Cream. The kit also contains the all important/absolutely necessary spf but Dr Rakus replaced mine with her own brand of spf 50 which I have fallen head-over-heels in love with! It’s full of antioxidants and leaves your skin glowing better than any strobe cream I’ve ever used! This one is definitely a keeper!
The system is simple to use, and I didn’t find it stingy at all (some users will probably feel a slight tingle), you use the cleanser am and pm, the serum is used am along with the day moisturiser, then the night cream is used by itself (or you can apply a moisturising night cream over the top- not one with AHA’s, glycolics or retinol though). I also used my regular eye cream at both ends of the day too. Other than that, you must stick to the system exclusively.
I did experience some skin weirdness at the start, as expected, due to how active the ingredients are; it was mostly dryness I felt at first, but I also had some deep spots occur in places I wouldn’t usually get them, such as the cheeks and nose. This lasted for around 2 weeks and it was totally coverable and bearable.
The range relies heavily, as the name would suggest, on Vitamin C, an ingredient known and proven to help repair and prevent UV damage, but one of the most active ingredients in the system is the infamous hydroquinone. Hydroquinone is not a substance to be taken lightly; it can have horrendous side effects if its use is abused, most notably if it is used for longer than the prescribed period and a condition can develop which, ironically, darkens the skin. Hydroquinone has been used for decades for lightening pigment in the skin and has the best results for doing so. When it is properly formulated, it is not harmful at all under prescription (most of the reports and horror stories recorded are from badly formulated products which also contained mercury and other illegal substances). I don’t want to scare monger- I was more than happy to apply it to my skin, I trust the quality and standards of Obagi implicitly, but it is very important that I stress just how active these ingredients are and the significance of purchasing through trusted practioners.
Anyway, lecture over…. These products work! I started to see an improvement of the pigmentation within 3 short weeks! The brown spots faded week on week and spurred on by my results (and despite them not smelling or feeling particularly luxurious) I looked forward to using the products every day!
After the 3-month course, I went back to Rita Rakus for another Visia scan. I knew my skin looked better on the surface, but I was doubtful over whether the course could improve the deep long-term damage in such a short space of time. Well… it did, and I was astounded!
(Remember; the higher the number, the better)
UV Damage: Before 6% After 13%
Brown Spots: Before 1% After 6%
At first glance, these may not seem like huge improvements but over such a short space of time (and during one of the hottest summers we’ve had in a while) and for such old, long term damage, these results are amazing! The side view results were even better, going from 20% brown spots to 55%! In fact, everything had improved (pore size, texture, wrinkles) and my skin age came out as 32 rather than my actual 38! Very happy with that! It’s a shame the Visia machine does not record the surface improvement because I’m certain the results would have gone through the roof!
To continue with your progress, you have a few options; you can do one more 3-month course of the Obagi-C RX system or a 3-month course of the Nu-Derm range (if prescribed/recommended by your skin care adviser) or you can switch long-term to products containing Arbutin 2%, a hydroquinone alternative that can be used continuously, also in the Obagi range. The Arbutin will help to maintain your results and prevent further damage.
There are plenty of fantastic skincare products available to us, all at different price points, but I’ve always believed that serious skin concerns need serious skin care products, and Obagi wins that title hands down.
For appoinments visit www.drritarakus.com
Rita Rakus Protect spf50 £37.00 www.drritarakusshop.com
To find stockists visit www.obagi.uk.com
Obagi C RX System £332.40 (available for oily skin or dry skin)
*pregnant women must not use products containing Hydroquinone.