Not so long ago, my skin-care regimen consisted of washing with soap and water, along with a-little-dab-will-do-ya level of moisturizer. I was caught completely off-guard when I tried to wipe what I thought was a makeup smudge from my face and it didn’t budge. Eventually, that one “smudge” multiplied into many, and someone even suggested I wipe the “chocolate ice cream” off my nose. At that point, I realized I needed to take action. In came daily tinted moisturizer. After another few years, it became clear that my years of being an ’80s sun goddess was coming back to haunt me—big time. The smudges were pigmentation, and it was only getting darker and more widespread. I entered a whole new world of facial pigmentation treatments and must share the basics with you. Ask your dermatologist or qualified aesthetician which will work best for your type of pigmentation (whether it is sun damage, hormone-induced melasma, etcetera). I only think I am a doctor in my deepest, darkest moments. Hence, I am just giving you the skinny. Go to a real professional for details.
After undergoing a variety of laser treatments, photo facials, and light chemical peels, my pigmentation wasn’t going anywhere. I put my skin into the trusted hands of René Andersen at Lulur. Though I looked like a burn victim for a few days, it worked wonders. This is what she did:
“I mix a special blend of acids depending on the type of pigment I’m seeing. Yours was caused by laser and sun, so I mixed a combo of glycolic, salicylic, and mandelic acids and concentrated darker spots you had to completely get rid of your pigmentation.”
IPL is an acronym for Intense Pulsed Light and is also often referred to as a photo facial. Frankly, it is the piker of skin lasers, but if it works, fantastic! It is not as strong as alternatives, but it is definitely the quickest and least painful way to target pigmentation via laser. It lightened my pigmentation the very first time. Unfortunately, it did nothing in consecutive visits when the pigment returned (those buggers often do!).
The strength of the Pixel laser is midway between the IPL and Fraxel. I did it last spring with a little bit of Matrix mixed in and it was a disaster. It made my existing pigmentation worse, and created new dark pigmentation (at no extra charge—how sweet!). Maybe I didn’t see the proper professional, but it was a waste of my time and money.
Fraxel is the mother of all facial lasers. I have been told that some physicians give patients a light sedative before doing this somewhat painful skin resurfacing. After hearing this little tidbit, along with my unsuccessful Pixel adventure, I steered clear. Nonetheless, a lot of trusted friends have raved about their results.
In my experience, the whole laser/peel thing is a no-pain, no-gain venture. You should know that each of these absolutely requires some downtime (take what the nurse says and add an extra couple of days) and a haute hat to follow.