Archive for January 21st, 2013

January 21, 2013

Help for Hyperpigmentaion


If you’re someone who has suffered with dark spots, pigmentation and uneven skin tone for years, it’s finally time to take control and banish them for good. With today’s arsenal of lotions, potions, esthetic treatment peels, and lasers, there’s tons of treatments options for every budget and lifestyle.

First let’s talk about the types of hyperpigmentation and how it’s caused.

There are three main types of hyperpigmentation, each of which is categorized by their cause.

*Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH). This occurs following skin injury from acne lesions, psoriasis, burnsIt begins to fade as the skin regenerates itself—a process that can take months or more. On the positive side, PIH generally responds well to treatment.
*Lentigines. These are commonly known as liver spots or age spots. Although they do become more prevalent with age—they are found on 90% of light-skinned individuals over the age of 601—they are not directly caused by the aging process. Rather, lentigines are related to UV exposure.
*Melasma. This is caused by hormonal fluctuations, common, for example, during pregnancy, with thyroid dysfunction, and through use of birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy. It affects an estimated five to six million women in the United States alone and can often be difficult to treat.

Although not considered a main cause, certain illnesses, as well as the use of certain prescription medications, may cause hyper-pigmentation.

*UV exposure. Questions surrounding these topics may pinpoint UV exposure as a cause of hyperpigmentation, while determining if the skin care professional should be on the lookout for signs of melanoma.

Use of tanning beds and unprotected UV exposure
Frequency of sunscreen usage
Likelihood of burning when exposed to the sun

Now let’s look at the best ways to treat these conditions.

*topicals medications/creams
Hydroquinone. 2%-4% This is frequently referred to as the gold standard for hyperpigmentation and with good reason: It has been used for more than 50 years and is the only U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved product for skin lightening. It is often formulated with antioxidants, retinoids and hydroxy acids to improve results. Unfortunately, it can be irritating to certain individuals and may cause serious reactions when used in high concentrations.

Azelaic acid. This was developed for the treatment of acne. However, it has proven to be beneficial in the treatment of hyperpigmentation, especially PIH from acne lesions. In one study, it demonstrated results similar to 4% hydroquinone, but without its side effects.

Kojic acid. This is a naturally occurring derivative of certain fungal species that features an efficacy similar to hydroquinone. In fact, hydroquinone and glycolic acid can produce better results when kojic acid is added to the formulation.

Mandelic acid. This AHA is derived from almonds and is used in the treatment of several skin conditions, including all types of hyperpigmentation. It is often combined with salicylic acid and administered as a peel, in which case it has fewer side effects than a glycolic peel and has demonstrated better efficacy.

Another great treatment option for hyperpigmentation are laser treatments. Lasers such as the Ruby and Q-switched ND:YAG reach the dark spots deep in the skin, converting light to heat, and literally blow up dark spots which then flake off the skin. Though the procedure only takes a few minutes redness and scabbing can occur; recovery time is about a week. At about $700 per treatment and you typically will need more than one.
Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) treatments or photo facials can also help hyperpigmentation with no downtime and a week of what is called “peppering” may occur. At about $150-200 per treatment recommended in 3-6 treatments 3weeks apart.


Prevention is key

With all clients, especially those undergoing treatment for hyperpigmentation, preventive measures are vital. The necessity of daily sunscreen application cannot be emphasized enough. Too often, clients are the cause of recurrent hyperpigmentation due to a nonchalant attitude toward sun exposure. Listen to your skin care therapist!!

Following treatment for hyperpigmentation, a more focused approach to daily skin care should be implemented. Clients can much better maintain the positive effects of treatment through the use of professional skin care product lines that include proven active ingredients coupled with effective delivery systems. As is recommended for all individuals, a regimen involving four steps—cleanse, exfoliate, moisturize and protect—should be standard.


January 21, 2013

Chasing Those Winter Blues Away, Part II

Love this kitty!

Love this kitty!

Hi! It’s Brooke again, with some tips to help you enjoy the winter months, even if you don’t love being wrapped in 3 layers before venturing outside. In my last blog, I mentioned seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, and some of its possible causes. However, you don’t have to be officially diagnosed with SAD to get down in the dumps and bored during this time of year. Our days are shorter, nights are longer and colder, and activities are driven indoors and away from the happy, if watery, shine of the winter sun. I noticed this recently when my husband and I went to the mall to see a movie—apparently all of the DFW Metroplex decided to join us at the theater. Talk about cramping our style!

So, what can you do to bring a little more pep to your step? Here are just a few ideas:

sunshine over water

1. Get your walk on: Walking outside, especially in the morning, not only gets your blood pumping and muscles moving, increasing your serotonin levels, but also reunites you with that precious sunlight that will not only cheer you up but help your body produce vitamin D, usually in short supply this time of year. If the weather’s too cold even for walking, hitting a treadmill or walking the mall works in a pinch.

2. Boost your “feel-good” hormones: During the wintertime, serotonin is absorbed more quickly by the body, which causes dips in this mood-boosting hormone. Serotonin levels can be improved in several ways, but two of the easiest are ensuring that your exercise and your diet are on track.

woman with DB sexy

Add this pic to my vision board–done!

  • According to the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, for important health benefits, adults should perform at least 2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week OR at least 1 hour and 15 minutes (75 minutes) of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity each week. Remember, aerobic activity can still be beneficial to you when it’s broken down into 10- or 15-minute increments, done several times a day. Also, the guidelines recommend that adults participate in strength training, concentrating on working the large muscle groups at least 2 times each week. For more information, check out the guidelines ( They make a great resource for getting your family involved in healthy living!
  • When you exercise and really break a sweat or push yourself, your body releases a flood of hormones, including serotonin (the “happy” hormone) and endorphins (hormones that reduce the sensation of pain and make you feel giddy or euphoric). Sign me up!
  • In The Serotonin Secret, author Dr. Caroline Longmore suggests adding serotonin-rich foods to each of your meals. Her ideal sources of this hormone include bean sprouts, spinach, asparagus, turkey, pineapple, sunflower seeds, cottage cheese, tofu, and bananas. And look! These foods are also wholesome and clean.

3. Catch plenty of ZZZZs: We’ve heard this 100 times, but getting plenty of sleep is important for so many reasons. During the darker winter months, our biological clock is affected by the lack of bright light, shorter days, and longer periods of “nighttime” in which we must still function. If you haven’t already guessed, the biological clock is closely tied to proper functioning of a healthy body. So, when our clock is messed up, namely during the time changes each year, we are really thrown for a loop until our system becomes accustomed to the new routine. Melatonin is a hormone that regulates our sleep patterns and moods, and when we have poor-quality sleep or just don’t get enough shut-eye, we cannot function at our best and are more likely to feel down and mopey. Getting at least 7-8 hours of good, deep sleep will do you a world of good (I’m still waiting to experience this—I’ll let you know what it feels like!).

4. Add some magnesium: Magnesium is an important mineral that helps in muscle contraction/relaxation, energy production and transport, protein synthesis, and enzyme production. It even helps us sleep more deeply, which is great news. You can supplement your diet with magnesium found in vitamins, but whole foods are even better. Sources of magnesium include black beans, raw broccoli, spinach, nuts, tofu, whole grains, and some fish.


5. Lighten up: In addition to getting outside for at least 15 minutes, if possible, you can improve your mood by gathering closer to windows and skylights during the day or using “daylight” bulbs (more blue than yellow light) or fluorescent lighting.

  • Some businesses even use special “skyboxes,” or light boxes installed on the ceiling in lieu of skylights. These installations brighten up office spaces with little or no natural light, and they can even be designed to simulate various weather and sky conditions across the office ceiling.
  • There are also personal light boxes, which are prescribed by physicians and used therapeutically to reduce symptoms of SAD. These boxes of powerful light bulbs come in various strengths and are used only in timed doses (anywhere from 5-30 minutes at a time). As you can imagine, this therapy can be easily abused, but you can gain similar benefit from using brighter, blue-tinged lights in your home or office.
  • Dawn simulators are helpful if your biological clock has been monkeyed around with by the changing seasons. These simulators are used as alarm clocks, with or without alarm sounds. The light, situated on your nightstand, begins to glow very dimly, gradually growing brighter over 30-45 minutes, until the light is brightest at your programmed “wake” time. This cool machine is designed to simulate the longer amount of morning sun that we enjoy in the spring and summer. Success with the simulator takes some trial and error, until you find your appropriate range of “sunrise,” but it has been proven to help those who struggle with seasonal blues as well as SAD.
Doesn't she look happy and well-rested?

Doesn’t she look happy and well-rested?

A quick Google search will yield countless tips and tricks for dealing with the winter blues. All you need is a few good ideas that work for you. I hope you enjoy each day, whether chilly and cloudy or bright and sunny. Have a lovely one!