Custom-Made Tri-luma for me– and you too

Tri-luma was a popular combination of tretinoin ( the generic name for Retin-A), hydroquinone  to lighten the skin and a medium strength steroid  by the name of flucinolone. The tretinoin  would hasten skin growth and exfoliation to shed darkened skin; the hydroquinone would  decease melanin production and the steroid would avoid redness and swelling from the other two turbo driven ingredients. It worked  well  for my under eye shadows and was the go to-product for brown patches  known as melasma.

It would take  at least three weeks  to see results  for Tri-luma, but when it worked, it WORKED.  You had to be complusive about sunscreen using at least a 30SPF during and after Tri-luma  since  the ingredients increased sun sensitivity to the sun.Then one  day Tri-luma seemed to disappear from pharmacy … Continue Reading…

Question: What are BB creams?

Answer:  I love new beauty ideas that are based on good science and BB creams are just such a concept.  BB stands for ‘blemish balm”  where blemish is defined as a skin defect ( eg dark spots and splotches and acne scars), not  just  traditional breakouts.

The original BB creams were developed by a Korean dermatologist to help his patients care for laser treated skin.  After having both IPL and frying off my freckles with a YAG laser, I had difficulty finding  appropriate  moisturizers and sun protection products.  The treatments made my skin especially vulnerable to sun damage, yet traditional chemical sunscreens were irritating while  zinc based formulations left my  skin with a weird white sticky film. 

BB creams are a genuinely clever idea.  They are a zinc based high SPF moisturizer/sun block combo that have a flattering tint.  The result?  On the skin … Continue Reading…

Does Hydroquinone Cause Cancer?

Each time I do a post on  skin lightening and mention hydroquinone, I get a flurry of concerned emails warning  me against using it.  Often  they point  out that hydroquinone can cause cancer and was banned in Europe.  Yet  the usually  quick to pull the recall trigger FDA still permits hydroquinone to be sold here– both in over the counter  formulations and in prescription only preparations.    I was both confused and worried.  Digging into the literature and talking  to a few trusted experts, here is the current  take on hydroquinone.

Hydroquinone is considered the most effective skin lightenens currently available and is one of  the very few on that acts by preventing melanin formation. There are three problems associated with hydroquinone:

1)  Tthe British Cancer Journal published  a study that linked  very high doses of hydroquinine to cancers in mice.  A second similar study found similar … Continue Reading…

Triluma– What happened?

Triluma, a combo of hydroquinone, Retin-A and a steroid was one of the first anti-aging tools I tried.  I used it successfully to reduce my dark circles and was planning to keep using it, but my dermatologist Dr Marmur said that I  needed to take a “Triluma Holiday”.  Apparently, it cannot be used  for more than three months at a time.  Then the skin needs to take a rest for three months before using it again.  But when I tried to refill my prescription, the product was “on back order”  at every pharmacy in NYC.  I began to hear from people who also reported they could  not get Triluma.  What  happened?

There was no FDA recall and no announcement from Galderma, the manufacturer of Triluma.   I kept digging and found that  Galderma itself  announced a recall of all its Triluma products made by a sub-contractor, Hill Dermaceuticals.  Apparently, Hill reported to Galderma that one of the  critical … Continue Reading…

Kojic Acid– Can it lighten my skin?

Kojic Acid  has been around for almost  100 years.  It was originally discovered by Japanese scientists  who were working on different fermenting methods  to turn malted rice into sake.  As the story goes, the scientists noticed that spots and freckles on their hands disappeared after working with Sake production.  Kojic Acid has been a popular Japanese beauty aid for generations.  In recent years we’ve learned that Kojic Acid acts somewhat  like hydroquinone by preventing melanin  formation.

Research has shown that Kojic Acid can be effective but it has its problems.  On the one  hand it tends to be unstable and high concentrations are often needed to be an  effective spot buster.  On the other hand, Kojic can be very irritating and is known  to cause allergic reactions.  Often the best solution is to combine lower concentrations of Kojic acid with other skin lighteners like soy or hydroquinone.

If you want to try … Continue Reading…