Saturday, July 4, 2009


Earlier I told you about UVA damage that causes ‘hyper-pigmentation’ or the permanently dark patches that discolor our skin.

The good news is that there are products available to reverse hyperpigmentation but effective products are only available from the major skincare product companies. This means they are more expensive than drug store products.

New treatment antidotes are being discovered all the time since hyperpigmentation is an growing concern, especially for baby boomers. We’re just so consumed by looking younger than we are.

As always, it is important to read labels carefully. First level active ingredients for treating hyperpigmentation include: Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Bearberry (Uva Ursi), Licorice, and Hydroxy Acids. All these substances are safe to use for long periods of time. I’ve seen impressive results with Dr. Murad’s Vitamin C cream.

More active ingredients that actually bleach the discoloration include: hydroquinone, kojic aicd, azelaic acid, and hydrocortisone. However, health warnings accompany these stronger agents.

For example, hydroquinone has been outlawed in Europe due to a suspected link to cancer. In this country, the FDA determined that the European studies are questionable. So straddling the fence, they say that products with under 2% hydroquinone can be sold over the counter or used by estheticians. Products with higher levels can only be prescribed by a physician but may not exceed 4%.

Lower levels of hydroquinone have so-so effects but the bleaching effects of prescribed versions I’ve seen are amazing. Its up to you to determine if you want to risk side effects or the possible cancer risk.

Kojic acid is a safe substance derived from Japanese mushrooms. It works on pigment molecules at the lowest layer of our skin, interrupting pigment production. It is so safe, kojic acid is also used as a flavor enhancer in foods.

Azelaic acid is another naturally occurring substance. It is also often used in acne products. Along with kojic acid, azelaic acid has been used extensively in Japan for decades to produce the pale faces that are the cultural ideal.

Retin-A is another prescription treatment. It was developed from concentrated elements of Vitamin A for a topical acne treatment. During drug trials, Retin-A was observed to lighten acne scars. Retin-A is supposed to be used for short periods of time because of possible side effects but I have met women who have been using Retin-A for years. They are afraid to stop using it because they are afraid their acne or hyperpigmentation will return. While it does not bleach the dark patches, it accelerates exfoliation and thus thins the skin.

Next time I’ll discuss professional treatments for hyper-pigmentation.




jo said...

I have had side effects of redness from using Retin-A. I had flawless, fair, nice skin, but dermatologist prescribed Retin-A for a bump and told me fine to use all over my face so it would be even. I had not idea it would do this. Was not warned. My dermatologist did not recognize the side effects when I returned to him. I have went to several dermatologists since and no one has been able to help me get my skin back to the way it was before Retin-A, It has been over a year. Any suggestions?

Michael said...

Active ingredients have some of the constituents when used in a proper way along with certain vitamins cure age spots.

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