My BFF– Best Friend with Freckles

Intense Pulsed  Light (IPL) is a type of photorejuvenation  that uses  a blast of light to remove freckles, unwanted hair and  little red lines on the skin.    Often called the “lunchtime laser”  it does not burn off the top layers of the skin like a tradtional laser and the skin looks beautiful and smooth within a week.    I had IPL  last year in June  with Dr Marmur and was so pleased with the results.  I thought  it made my skin look tighter and fresher and I posted before and after pics on the blog.  My BFF ( best friend with freckles) liked  the changes so much that  she went  for her own IPL date.  I think her results were even better.  Not only does she look 10 years  younger, her skin  has a new radiance.  She is so pleased with the results, that she  has now joined  me in my anti-aging journey.

First we developed a plan.   In the morning  she is using a strong sunscreen  to prevent  the return of freckles.  When she  was in school, BFF was a super athlete.  Her current passion is gardening and she is developing a new style of wall garden.  For either activity  she is often in direct sun, and needs  an uber sunscreen.   At night she is using Retin A to stimulate  circulation and new collagen. After a few months on Retin A, she will have Pelleve and will share the results on No-Nonsense Beauty Blog.  Have you tried out an anti-aging  tool or technique?  It would be wonderful if you could share your experience and before and after photos.  There are so many options out there its hard to know  which work and which are empty promises?  As Mulder would say to Scully–” The Truth is  out there”.

Red Carpet Shoulders

Watching the celebs walk the red carpet during awards season, I began to focus on the flawless  chests and creamy  shoulders of the stars  in their strapless gowns.  Was I  the last woman in America with  age spots  on my upper body?

The short answer is  no.  This is an often overlooked spot until a dress or bathing suit suddenly reminds you that sun damage doesn’t stop at the chin. That’s the bad news.   The good news?   There a buffet of spots removers including skin bleaches, IPL, lasers, Fraxel, peels and  microdermabrasion. The question is  which one  is the best.   According to Dr Marmur, I have several  different types of discolorations that require  different types of treatments.  For example the true freckles can be easily treated with a YAG or Ruby laser– the same type that I used on the freckles ( aka age spots) on my face and hands.  The raised spots are actually skin tags that are best cut off or burned away with electrocauterization.  As you can see  from my before photo, the red spots are atually more numerous and I’ll find out what they are  and how they are treated when I  get them removed tomorrow.  Its a good thing its still scarf weather here, since I  know from past experience that I’ll have a bunch of red scabs  on my neck for at least a week.

New Help for Old Hands– Part 2

Judith’s   hands  healed rapidly after her  IPL treatment. On Day One ( top left) the freckles  looked a bit red, but were not painful. Other than a sunscreen, Judith  did not need  to put anything on them   or to wear a bandage. Over the next week (bottom left )  her hand   developed  numerous  small brown spots which were exploded freckles. These   soon rubbed off  revealing  fresh new skin. The bigger freckles developed  crusted  over, which then   fell off to reveal  pale  spots.  After three weeks( bottom right) her  hands  had a  brighter, softer surface with just a few freckles that were much lighter than  before. 

And as an additional bonus, IPL  took care of the fine  lines   which made  her hands fresh and young.  Dr Lefkovits  has scheduled another visit  to totally erase the  remaining  shadows of the old freckles.

Pretty with Pelleve

The first time I went for a Pelleve  treatment with Dr Prasad, I was  anxious that it would be painful. I’m  just  not  a “no pain, no gain” type of person. I was delighted that Pelleve was a very comfortable, even relaxing procedure– and was even more pleased  with  the improvements I could see. This time   I  was pretty mellow  when I went to my second Pelleve appointment.  It was  just as painless and I saw  even more improvement.    In the pair of photos   above, the profile on the left was before any treatment and the profile on the right was just after my second  Pelleve treatment. My  cheeks and chin  are clearly firmer and less flabby.  Its not  nearly as extensive a change as I would see with a surgical lift, but I don’t want to go there. What you can also see  is that my nose does not droop down as much.  It turns out that the loss of collagen in the face means it cannot support the facial features and the nose looks longer.  When the existing collagen is tightened, the nose is returns to a more youthful position. Sweet!

Pelleve does not affect the surface of the skin, so I didn’t have to interrupt  my Retin A useage.  Its also  one of the safest anti-aging tools for women of color.   You can do Pelleve in the afternoon and go  back to work or out to dinner and look  beautiful. Dr Prasad  often does IPL  for the surface of the skin and  Pelleve for firming facial contours in the same visit.

This anti-aging tool is a beauty junkie’s ideal treatment– safe, effective, quick, immediate results and painless.  It is pricy, but unlike too many overpriced creams and serums, you actually get  the results you are paying for.

New Help for Old Hands

I had my freckles ( aka age spots) lasered off the top of my hands and posted the progress on my blog.  I was very happy with the results, but wondered how IPL ( also called  photo rejuvenation) would have worked.   To answer that question, Dr Lefkovits offered to use IPL on the freckles of a friend.

I knew just who to call.  Judith has had my back since we worked together in advertising. Dealing with some pretty difficult clients, she was always the island of calm in any storm.  Since I started my blog, Judith  has been an enthusiastic supporter and when Dr Lefkovits  made the offer, I punched in her number on my cell.  Tall and slim, she is a terriffic athlete who spent   many happy hours on tennis courts and sunny beaches– and has the freckles to prove it.

Dr Lefkovits and his technician Eleanor examined Judy’s hands.  He explained that her olive tone skin needed to start with low dose IPL to avoid uneven skin color.  Before we even started, Dr Lefkovits predicted that is would take two IPL treatments to remove freckles from Judith’s hands.  They spread on a thick layer of ultrasound gel, handed out blue goggles for everyone  and fired up the IPL equipment.  Each time the IPL wand touched Judith’s hand, there was a flash of light.  This first session was over in 10 minutes. The smaller freckles were now red and the larger ones were slightly darker.  As they heal, the darkened skin will flake off.

Over the next few posts, I’ll upload  pix of Judith’s  progress.  I was running out of body parts to rejuvenate and its awesome that I’ve got new people to  help me explore beauty options.

Easy Answer to an “Old” Problem

Nothing screams “old lady”  like a couple of white hairs on your chin.  I  had started  my anti-aging plan with laser hair removal and was delighted with the results.  It hurt, took several sessions, was expensive  but  the  dark hairs were gone.  But in the last few months I was  not pleased to see the arrival of about six, tough white chin hairs.  (The photo is an extreme close-up)  I was even less happy to learn that lasers and IPL  don’t work on light colored  hairs.  What did?  The answer  is  old fashioned electrolysis. 

 I have always been afraid of electrolysis.  I’ve heard its painful and not that effective.   My college roomate  went frequently for electroysis and I remember her sitting  all night with an ice pack on her upper lip.  Now it was was time for me  to get electroysis.  Dr Mrmur recommended  me to Wende Silver who is a charming as she is skilled.   Although no one said anything, I decided to stop RetinA and  Tri-luma  for 48 hours before my first electrolysis appointment.  I lay down on  Wende’s examining  table and she gave me a grounding device to hold.  After wiping my face with alcohol, she turned on the power and went to work.   Wende slipped a thin probe into the white hair follicle and zapped it with electrical current.   If she could pull out the hair effortlessly with a tweezer, she had scored a hit with the root.  If she had to tug on it, the follicle need another jolt.

I was very comfortable and it  was far less painful than lasers.   And remember, I have a very low threshold of pain and if I say something doesn’t hurt, it really doesn’t hurt.   Electrolysis appointments  work ( and charge) by the time, and Wendy gave me a 30 minute  session ($65).  She got  out all the white hairs, applied an over the counter steroid cream and I was done.   She cautioned me that I might develop white bumps at the site and to leave them alone– but  nothing happend.  The next day  my chin looked smooth and clear and  nothing  has grown back in a week.

Wende  said I had  ‘juicy’  follicles  meaning that that they were healthy   and hard to destroy.  I should see regrowth in 2-3 weeks and then she will zap them again. It always takes  multiple sessions with electroysis to permanently destroy the  hair root. I am just sorry that I did not try electrolysis before now.  Its, easy, affordable and not painful.  For large areas like arms and legs, lasers and IPL are  more practical, but  for  sections on the face, I’ve  found a new tool.  Also, lasers and IPL don’t work on blonde  hairs and electrolysis is a practical option for all light colored facial hairs.

Can Women of Color Use Retin A?

I get frequent questions from Asian and Latina readers who are interested in using Retin A , but are concerned about the side effects.  On one hand Retin A has the ability to lighten  dark patches  and make  the skin look fresher and brighter.  On the other hand Retin A can be very irritating– and deeper skin tones tend to develop darkened areas when inflamed.

There’s a boatload of conflicting advice about the topic and I needed  an expert to provide answers.  Asking my colleagues  in beauty for the best source of information, I was referred to the noted Chicago-based cosmetic surgeon, Dr Seven Dayan.  In addition to seeing patients, Dr Dayan is the founder of DeNova Research, a center that  has extensive experience studying skin care in women of color.  According to Dr Dayan, Latina, Asian and African American women  need to use Retin A very very cautiously. ” To avoid problems I recommend a very mild form of Retin A ( such as Renova) and use it only every three days.  In addition , when using even Renova it is important to avoid products  that can be irritating such as exfoliating grains and brushes”

Retin A is just one of the anti-aging tools that need to be used carefully by women of color.  Lasers, IPL even  gentle gylcolic peels can cause needless problems like melasma  and I’ll be talking more with Dr Dayan to  learn the safest and most up- to-date information on this often undercovered topic.  For more information about Dr Dayan and his ongoing research studies go to

IPL– Five Top Questions

IPL laser treatments are one of the fastest growing anti-aging  office proceedures.  When I  had IPL and posted the before, healing and after  photos, I received more questions than on any other topic.   IPL is often described as the “lunchtime laser”, but its really a bigger deal than say,  a manicure.   What I learned from the experience should  give you the tools to get the beautiful results  you want

1.  Can I have IPL while pregnant?

It’s not recommended.  IPL has never been tested during pregnancy and few if any dermatologists would do the procedure during these critical nine months. If anyone says they will do  it at this time,  run.

2.  Can I have IPL on my hands?

Yes, it works beautifully  on the hands and probably heals faster than the YAG laser I used on my hands last month.  However IPL is more expensive than the traditional laser treatment on the same area.

3. Is it true that you can get  even more dark patches from IPL?

Women whose skin is rich in pigment (   eg Hispanic, Asian, Indian and African American) should avoid IPL!!  This device “grabs”  onto melanin and can produce  splotchy, irregular  skin color.  In fact, even the  naturally palest skin, if suntanned, can get disappointing results with IPL.

4.  Any  special skin care care tips  for  IPL?

My favorite question!  Two days before the procedure, take a  Retin A holiday, and  wait 5-7 days before  resuming regular Retin A use.  For the healing week, use a very mild cleanser  (eg Cetaphil) and avoid exfoliating scrubs and glycolic acid products.  To soothe and protect the skin use a very plain moisturizer ( eg Aquaphor)  and avoid  ingredients like retinoids, vitamin C  and Alpha Hydroxy Acids. During  the day use a physical sunscreen with zinc oxide ( eg Neutrogena for Sensitive Skin).  Standard  chemical sunscreens  are potentially more irritating on just  treated skin,  but you never need a sunblock more than after  any  type of laser treatment.

5. How many IPl treatments should I have?

Most dermatologists recommend a series of two-three treatments over  a three to six month period.  I was  very happy with one treatment, but I had already my biggest, baddest  freckles removed with a YAG laser, before I was introduced to IPL.  I think it would be  wonderful to have a yearly IPL to refresh skin color and tone.   It’s a great birthday  present to a 50 plus wife and Mom  who, trust me, does not need another fruit bowl or bracelet.