Not All Freckles Are Equal

After a lifetime of happy, sun filled days, the skin  is dotted with freckles, dark spots  and patches.  But not all spots are equal.  There can be  little flat dark freckles, larger bumpy areas the size of a raisin  and even larger cafe au lait patches of melasma.

freckle before treatentI  have been exploring different lightening and brightening products on different dark spots on my face and limbs.  As it turned out these formulations are not effective  against  raised or very dark  areas of pigmentation.   I had tried just about everything on a tan rough spot on my arm which just kept getting bigger.  When I finally showed it to Dr Lefkovits, he diagnosed it as a seborrheic keratosis.  This is a benign growth that  comes with  both  age and sun exposure.  They have a waxy, flakey  appearance– not attractive, … Continue Reading…

Is Licorice Root Really Your Skin’s New Best Friend?

Licorice root If you thought licorice  root  is  just a sticky black candy, you and your skin are in for  some great news.  Licorice root  has been used for 4000 years in Egyptian  and Chinese  medicine to reduce inflammation and even out  skin color.  Grown in warm sunny climates, licorice root has different chemical compounds that have been shown to be effective for a wide range  of health problems, both inside and out.

Licorice root has a long and impressive list of benefits.  It has been used successfully to treat tooth decay, gum infections, stomach ulcers, sore throat and indigestion.  On the skin  a 1-2 %  licorice gel can relieve  seriously irritated skin conditions including eczema, psoriasis, and especially rosacea. Licorice can also inhibit production of melanin, making it a natural … Continue Reading…

What the Heck is Niacinamide?

Question and Answer logoQuestion:  What is  niacinamide and what can it do for  my skin?   I bought a moisturizer that promised to lighten dark patches.  Then I  read about another product that claimed niacinamide improves acne AND  smooths  fine lines.  Can niacinamide do all of these things?  None of them?

Answer:  Niacinamide  aka nicotinic acid is a form of vitamin B3 (aka niacin).  This vitamin is  essential for healthy skin, nerves and digestion.  Lack of niacin can lead to skin inflammation and nerve damage and over time severe lack of nacin  will lead to pellegra.

On the surface of the skin, niacinamide has a wide range of benefits.  There are   good clinical studies that show nicinamide can reduce inflammation of acne.  In fact a  study  showed that a 4-5% niacinamide gel is as effective as clindamycin in reducing acne– and without the concern  of developing … Continue Reading…

Skin Brighteners vs Skin Lighteners– What’s the Difference?

skin lighteners erase frecklesQuestion:  Because I have dark spots on my face and chest, I bought a cream with licorice root  that promised to  “brighten”  my skin.  Then I saw another product with hydroquinone that claimed to “lighten” the skin.  Is there a difference in the promise?   Is one better than the other?

Answer:   Brown splotches and spots can appear on both light and darker skin tones.  There are three different types that are triggered by different situations:

1. Melasma is a brownish discoloration that occurs with pregnancy  or after use of birth control pills.

2. Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH)   are dark areas or spots that are provoked  by injury to the skin like a bug bite, scratch, acne, or exzema.

3. Sun Damage  from unprotected or prolonged exposure to  UV rays is the … Continue Reading…

Can Women of Color Use Lasers? by Deb Chase

Women of ColorQuestion: Can a South Asian women use Forever Beautiful  laser to get rid of dark patches? Answer: According to Carissa, the amazing esthetician who works with Dr Z.Paul Lorenc, the short answer is— no.  The heat of  this  milder laser  could trigger new darkened areas and leave the skin with  irregular pigmentation.  To clarify  and brighten South Asian  skin  Carissa uses a two step  process.  First she pre-treats the skin with  for a few weeks with hydroquinone to put the melanin producing cells into sleep mode.   Then she exposes the skin to  a  Q switch YAG laser which was developed originally to remove black pigment in a tattoo.  The proceedure needs to be done very very carefully  and after treatment  sunscreens are essential.  To keep the skin smooth and clear  a 50SPF sunscreen should … Continue Reading…

Hydroquinone- How Long Can I Use It? by Deb Chase

Hydroquinone for hyperpigmentationQuestion: My doctor gave me a prescription for hydroquinone ( 4%) cream.  Its helping control my post pregnancy dark splotches, but I’ve heard bad things about  it.  How long can I safely use it?

Answer:  Hydroquinone is one of those medications that we love to hate.  It has been around for decades and is actually  the ONLY ingredient that has been approved by the  FDA for skin lightening.  According to Mount Sinai dermatologist  Dr Gary Goldenberg, you can safely use  hydroquinone for  up to three months at a time. Even if its working, you need to take a three month drug holiday after the initial treatment.  If you want to return to this popular skin lightener, you’re back to a three month on and three month off schedule. However if  … Continue Reading…

Mid-Fall Makeover- Part 2

Three years go,  I started  my No-Nonsense Makeover with IPL( Intense Pulsed Light)   and it made a huge difference in my skin.  I was diligent about using sunscreens every morning, but  rarely reapplied  sun  protection during the day.   Darker spots  and redness  gradually crept back and after  a sun filled weekend at the beach with my grandchildren,  my freckles came back in full force.   This mid-fall makeover is using   a second generation of broad  band laser ( Sciton Joule laser) combined with infrared skin tightening– a treatment called Forever Beautiful BBL.   Two days before my date with this laser treatment, I stopped using  Retin A, glycolic acid and  even my  Clarisonic.   I will avoid them  for two days after  treatment.

Just after MakeoverWhen  Carissa finished  working on my skin,  my face felt tight and warm  like I had spent the day in the sun.  My … Continue Reading…

Mid-Fall Makeover, Part 1

Freckles Before MakeoverThe summer is long over, but  the  freckles remain– and its a great time for a mini-makeover.  Starting this blog three years ago, I have been diligent about using effective  sun protection. I’ve also  been aware that too much sun is a health  problem as well as a beauty issue. This month I had the opportunity to work with the extraordinary  New York City aesthetic  surgeon Dr. Z. Paul  Lorenc.   With his esthetician Carissa, we came up with  a combination of  devices to  show the impact of sun  damage  both above and below the skin.  Even  better,  Dr Lorenc offered a new treatment that would not only  improve the appearance of the skin, it would reduce the risk of  skin cancers.

Makeover First Steps

The project started by scanning my skin with Tru-Vu  that would capture theContinue Reading…