After I had my two boys I noticed something new joining my face full of cute little freckles my Irish-American heritage brought me. My mom used to call them angel kisses and it made the freckles charming instead of an ugly discoloration that I compared to my friend’s smooth complexions jealously.
Yes- my cute little freckles had a new brown, blotchy friend- brown spots. These discolored splotches can be brought on by early over sun exposure, (sunscreen? Baby oil will do just fine), pregnancy hormones or just plain old age. I immediately hated them, HATED THEM and visited by dermatologist, Dr. Tricia Brown, for answers. She told me brown patches and sun spots are hard to correct because the current patches of skin must be treated as well as the as yet-to-be-exposed new pigment formation. Also, pigment affected skin is over-reactive to sunlight and very prone to darkening again with even small amounts of sun exposure, fluorescent light exposure and heat. Yes- even heat will bring those nasty splotches back. So what to do?
Back when Dr. Brown and I tackled my almost full face of brown spots we started with a chemical peel that felt to my sensitive skin, like my entire face was peeling off. It was a mask I left on for 8 hours and when I took it off it looked like I had been blasted by a full face laser for a month. It was painful, took longer than 3 weeks to finally heal- but it WORKED. The brown spots were gone and so were a lot of wrinkles. However- I just didn’t think I could go through the painful process again. I opted for starting a monthly microdermabrasion treatment at a local spa, Atrium, and used Rodan and Field’s Reverse every night along with the serum antioxidant CE Ferulic every morning; this product blocks the rays of sun that do hit the skin through the sunscreen.
Recently I visited Dr. Brown again to see what new products on the market could brighten up my nearly 50 year old face and she shared the latest and greatest options for beating the brown spots!
- Get a GREAT sunscreen. Dr. Brown likes ELTA UV Spray 46 or Elta Physical SPF 41. These are great for sensitive skin, fair-colored skin. Dr. Brown also likes SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50 or Physical Matte. These products will not rub off or melt in the heat. they feel like a light lotion.
- Antioxidants applied first thing in the morning. CE Ferulic for normal to dry skin and Phloretin CF for normal to oily skin will block sun rays and protect the skin from pollution.
- Retin-A/Tretinoin/Tazorac/Retinol: These compounds increase turnover in the skin and help even out skin discoloration.
- Clarisonic brush cleaning system and glycolic acid washes (alpha-hydroxy-acids: The Clarisonic brush gently exfoliates skin promoting turnover and used in tandem with the acid washes helps remove pollutants and particulate toxins that damage the skin causing aging and discoloration.
- Natural supplements of 100 mg of pycnogenol (pine bark extract) and 250 mg grape seed extract can lighten brown spots gradually over time. Daily Heliocare natural sun protection supplement capsules each morning.
- Cyspera (cysteamine) 5% cream This topical cream goes on first thing in the morning on an unwashed face. A thin layer is smoothed onto the dark areas for 15 minutes then washed off. This can be combined with Retin-A as long as your skin is already adjusted to one of the creams. You should see results with this cream after 12-16 weeks with regular usage.
- Microdermabrasion facials: I am a big believer in these as not only do they help lighten brown spots but also stimulate the collagen under your skin for brighter skin and smoother complexion.