Exploring a New Freckle Fighter

I was intrigued by a new freckle fighting cream called Elure.  There are  good clinical studies that it can lighten dark patches in 7-28 days.  Elure gets  its power from a type of naturally occuring enzyme derived from tree mushrooms.  Called legnin peroxidase, it acts by breaking down melanin  in the skin cells.  Unlike hydroquinone, this enzyme is non irritating  and shows no skin sensitivity.

We all know that excess pigmentation is linked  to sun exposure.  What is less well known is that as we get older there is an increase in dark spots and splotches due to a slowdown in the rate of cell growth. In our twenties cells turn over every 28 days.  By the 50′s, the cycle is extended to 45 days.  This means that darkened skin cells  get even darker and stay around longer.

I’ve pretty much eliminated  the dark spots on  my face and neck with lasers, IPL and a maintenance program of retinoids. But dark spots come back and I’m always looking for new  anti-freckle remedies.  To test them out I’ve identified some  pretty big freckles on my arms.  Now to be perfectly clear. I’m not really concerned  about how they look ( I’m not that vain).   But I’m glad that I still have freckles  to be part of my science project.

Elure is an unusual product in that its a two step  process.  In step one, you apply a dab of  active Melanozyme  from  one side of  the compartment in the Elure  jar.  Wait for a minute than top it with the same amount of Bio-Activator from compartment 2.   I’m going to do this both in the evening and in the morning.  In the daytime, I’ll top it with a zinc oxide sunscreen.

My before photo  shows a 1/4 inch freckle on my forearm.  I’m going to continue with the Elure treatments for up to 28 day, taking a new photograph every week.  This is going to be interesting.

Anti-Aging Skin Care- The Fabulous Fourteen

When I started exploring anti-aging options a few months go, I had  just three go-to products.  It wasn’t that I didn’t care — I just didn’t know what my skin  truely needed. Too many times  I would be vulnerable  to  great sales pitch and find that the expensive “miracle cream”  either did nothing or  made my face break-out.  Now that I am testing out wrinkling fighting tools and techniques, I had to try out  an endless buffet of skin care products.  Trial and lots of error  has resulted in a group of cleansers, moisturizers and sunscreens that deliever on their  promises.  I call them my “Fabulous Fourteen” and today I have uploaded that list in the blog tab ” Beauty Tool Kit”.  I explain  how to use  them, how they  work and  how much they cost.  I have only one face and can’t try out everything, so I would love to hear about your go-to products.

How Long Can I Stay on Tri-Luma?

I’ve  had good results with Tri-luma.  The blue /black shadows  are pretty much gone, and the reddish blue areas are much much lighter.  However, the latter, which  are caused by leaking of the tiny under eye blood vessels, tend to reappear  with   things like allergies, jet lag and and, no kidding, chinese food. This week, I got an industrial strength migraine headache, and the next morning, the reddish shadows made a return appearance.  Not as pronounced as  before Tri-luma,  but the area certainly looked more shadowy today.  Do I  reach for my trusty Tri-luma.  Not so fast. I have been using Tri-luma off and on since March.  Label instructions advise against using it longer than three consecutive months.   Dr Marmur was pleased that  it worked, but  told me to try to take a three month break before using it again.  She knows that I like to  work on these shadows, but Tri-luma  can’t really be used as a maintenance product like Retin A.  It is a combo of  Retin A, (hydroquinone, a known skin lightener) and a steroid to keep things calm.  But steroids  can  be destructive if used  too much and that’s why  there’s a time limit on Tri-luma. 

I’m going to follow her advise , stock up on concealer and not use Tri-luma again until November.   Now that my skin is so comfortable with Retin A Micro, I wonder if I can use it on my under-eye rea.  Has anyone done that?

Beauty Dangers of Book Clubs

This week I had my monthly bookclub meeting which meant  great conversation, a perfect brie  and of course  several glasses of  a crisp Pinot Grigio.  The next morning I was reminded what  alcohol does to the skin.  My under-eye circles which  had nearly faded way ( thanks to Tri-luma) had now  suddenly  made an encore appearance.  The reddish/blue shadows were a clear sign  that  alcohol had caused minute leaking  from tiny blood vessels. under the eye.  I now have to wait until the body can breakdown this hemoglobin for the color to fade.   To help things along, I applied a compress of cold Lipton tea bags.  The cool temperature and tannin in the black tea  should shrink the swollen blood vessels– and shrunken  vessels won’t leak anymore blood and fluid.  Within 48 hours, the lurid color  had faded a bit and I can cover it with a dab of green Dermablend cream  under my regular concealer.  But I know  what lies beneath the make-up.

This experience  reminded me  that what we drink and eat ( salty crackers with the Brie)  has a huge impact  on how  we look.  It made me think– what other factors in my diet are affecting my hair and skin?  Any suggestions where I should start?

Under Eye Shadows and Allergies

Sometimes there are simple answers to complicated problems.  I was bummed out that  most of the improvements I had seen with Tri-luma were reversed by seasonal allergies.  But yesterday I went to an  allergist who gave me such a simple and effective solution– a saline nasal rinse.  You simply spray a salty solution into each nostril and blow.  I did it before  going to sleep  and  by morning,   the newly returned shadows  were noticably lighter.  I have to keep using the saline nasal spray   all summer, but its wonderful to have such an easy,  low-tech solution. 

This just goes to my  core belief that we need to get to the causes of  beauty problems to really  see a difference.  If  we don’t deal with  changes in the  body that are driving the problems, then attempts to fix the problem are just a frustating waste of time… and money.

Progress On Under Eye Circles

 I had been on Tri-luma for almost three weeks and was pleasantly surprised by what I saw.  The under eye shadows had lightened considerably.  Only the area closest to my nose still had dark blue smudges.  I made plans to take  some  great “after” photos after I got back from a weekend in the country.  And that’s where it all unraveled.  Saturday morning I woke up sneezing and by Monday my eyes were swollen and red.  And the under eye circles?  They’re back! 

When I  had blogged about the causes of under eye circles in March, I explained  that congestion of allergies causes pooling of fluids and hemoglobin under the eyes — and here I am the poster girl for under eye  allergy shadows.  I am hoping that  when I get  past this allergy episode, Triluma will  lighten my under eye shadows again. 

The good news here is that Tri-luma seemed to work as promised.  The bad news? Its not permanent.  THe underlying issues that cause shadows in the first place still exist and can cause new  problems.  Package inserts for Tri-luma recommend not using  it longer than 3 months.  Does that mean three months at a time?   In a year?  I need to get clarification.

Stubborn Dark Circles

I have been using two eye care products for about a month and neither has made a visible difference. In the morning I applied a roller with caffeine and at night I used a cream with AHA’s.   My shadows are still there and the slight bagging under the eyes  actually seems a bit worse. So when a dramatic looking package at Sephora  caught my attention, I was hooked.  Called Hylexin,  the box had a photo of  a young woman  with a football players black smudge under  her eye.  The box copy said that this product was for’serious dark circles’ (hence the name) and not for dark circles  that  ‘pop up in the morning and are gone by breakfast ‘ . 

Directions on the box said  to do a patch test on my arm.  I opened the tube and was rocked back by a heavy fragrance.  I hesitated a moment, took a breath and applied a small amount on my  arm.  Very quickly the spot  felt warm and a bit itchy.  I opened the brochure to read more about Hylexin, but instead of information about the product, it was an flyer for other products from the manufacturer.  Apparently the company was very proud of an item  called ” Boob Job in a Box” .  I don’t know about you, but I have a problem  taking  skin care advice from a company that  sells “Boob Job in a Box”.  Between the  heavy perfume, itchy patch test  and the Boob Job thing, I decided that I did not want to put this product anywhere near my eyes.  I packed it  up, found my sales slip  and plan to take it back today for a refund.

Allergies and Aging

We all know that spring allergies can make us sneeze and itch– but did  you know spring allergies can make you look older?  Seasonal allergies produce daily inflammation that trigger dark circles under the eyes.  Blood vessels swell and leak fluid that pool under the eyes.  The result?  Eyes become puffy and swollen.  A bad allergy season  can lead to permanent  bags  and wrinkles under the eyes. 

With seasonal allergies, the  best offense is a strong defense.  When you see the trees and flowers blooming, start taking a daily non -sedating anti histamine like Zyrtec  or Claritin. Your body needs  several weeks  to build up allergy- fighting levels of medication for the months of pollen heavy air  that are coming.

Make you own home  an allergen-free zone.  To keep pollen from building up inside, close windows and turn on the A/C.  If you wake up with swollen eyes and congestion, try to eliminate stuff that attracts  pollen and dust — thick rugs, heavy drapes and the well-named dust ruffle.  (Actually it should  be called  a ‘dust magnet’).  In the morning use a saline nasal spray to prevent build-up of fluid that will quickly lead to puffy eye bags.  When  you come home after work or school, leave shoes outside to avoid tracking in dirt and pollen.  Two hours before bedtime, turn on a HEPA style air filter to clean the environment  that you will be breathing all night long.

This might sound like  alot of work  but its so worth it. Many women who seem to age faster  just  have uncontrolled seasonal  allergies.

Preventing Under Eye Circles

These are my under eye circles, untreated but  after four months of Retin A on the rest of my face.  Dr. Marmur of Mount Sinai says they are caused by both melanin deposits and loss of  fat pads under the eye. In the first photo you can see that there is a depression in  facial contours under the eye.  That dip is  part of aging.  Look at a baby or a child under age 10.  No depression in that area.  The  darkness in the skin due to melanin which  may, and the operative word here is “may”  respond to skin lighteners like kojic acid or hydroquinone. But to  make a bigger difference  I will need injectable fillers to erase the shadows.  The idea of  injecting stuff under my eye  makes me cringe, so I’ll see how far I can get with under eye creams and gels.

To prevent further discoloration and wrinkling I found two promising products.  Revlon Age Defying Moisturizing Concealer ($9.99) is a concealer with a 25 SPF.   It both hides  the dark circles and prevents more melanin   formation.  Nice!   The second photo shows  how well it works.  And I don’t have to wear foundation on the rest of my  face to blend it in. If nothing actually helps the shadows, I can  buy a case of this stuff and use  it to disguise them.  Its  good to  have a plan B. 

I also found  a great  eye area sunscreen from Clarins.  Called  Sunscreen Wrinkle Control Eye High Protection ( $22) it has  a 30SPF.   I plan to  use it hen I spend time outdoors in the summer sun. 

Coming Up:  Lightening dark circles as you sleep

Stress and Under Eye Circles

It happens to all of us.  When we don’t get enough sleep, catch a cold, work 24/7 or deal with personal problems, the face in the mirror includes dark under eye circles.  It turns out that the body reads all these problems as “stress” and reacts by producing large amounts  of  a hormone  called costisol.  This creates a cascade of changes in the body  that includes  higher blood pressure, a slowdown in cell growth and an increase in heart rate.  Under the eyes, dark circles become  more pronounced.  This is because cortisol increases leaking from tiny blood vessels and slows removal of  body fluids.  The result?  Fluids and hemoglobin build up in the eye area creating dark shadows,

Its really easy to tell people to relax and take it easy.  But while we are waiting  for the world to become an easier place to live, we all need a few quick tools to deal with stress induced circles  Here are three tips to try  until life calms down:

* After a rough night, put cold tea bags on your eyes for 5 minutes.  The caffeine in the tea will shrink wollen blood vessels.  Black tea works better here than green tea because it contains more caffeine.

* Cut salt intake.  Salt  retains fluids in the body that shows up as dark bags under your eyes.  Don’t add salt to your food and  avoid all processed food.

* Raise the headboard of your bed by 2-3 inches. This will encourage fluids to drain from the eye area.  You can do this easily if you put a thick paperback on each side. A nice hefty travel book is just  perfect.