Hola! I am so stoked to get to share with you some first hand intel on the topic at hand: skin resurfacing and minimizing dark spots. This post is specifically for you if you are someone who experiences hyperpigmentation and rough-textured skin from acne or the sun. This post is also about health not just vanity so keep reading on.
Despite living in high-pressure tanning beds from 2000-2007 and applying Hawaiian Tropic tanning oil for a day in the sun in my youth, I surprisingly haven’t fallen major victim to sun damage. I have, however, more than experienced my share of skin trauma as the result of acne, and this is one topic I can assure you I feel you on.
Let’s paint a quick picture: if you’ve ever picked at your face, squeezed and ruptured a pimple when you should have left it alone or had a sunburn, I can near guarantee that you have grounds to improve the texture of your skin and/or minimize dark spots – if that’s something you’re into. Taking care of your skin isn’t strictly about vanity. I have 2 girlfriends who have had melanoma and caught it early because of their proactive and borderline obsessive skin care habits. Commends, Brit & Paige, so glad you were paying attention. Neither of these women may have their beautiful baby girls and families had they not been each on their skin game. My point: it pays more than you know to take good care of your skin from a health perspective, products and treatments alike.
Don’t believe you have any skin damage? Read on and lets enlighten the topic because sharing is caring!
Sun Damage & Dark Spots
Sun damage is best prevented but since hindsight is 20/20, here we are! No shame, simply grateful for the lessons. Overexposure to the sun can result in dark spots and hyperpigmentation of the skin. Sun damage can also be far more severe than simple discolouration. Severe sun damage can cause textural issues. Think: crepe-y and loose skin, or tight, dehydrated and dry skin. Fortunately there are professional skin treatments available designed to truly reverse the signs of sun damage in miracle: yes, miracle. There are things professional skin treatments can do that at home treatments just cannot. We will go into detail about professional treatments in a number of posts come future. For now, a simple breakdown and product recommendation that I’ve used to reduce acne scarring which are also
In a Scientific Nutshell
UV rays (when exposed in excess or to burn) cause damage by penetrating through the outer layers of your skin to middle and deeper layers that break down your proteins and collagen that are essential to maintaining the elasticity (think: firmness) of your skin. Firm, supple, plump skin, is skin goals for as long as humanly possible, and when the collagen and elastin breakdown, what’s left but life-less skin? UV rays can create dark spots (hyperpigmentation) in the same way that they bronze your skin. It just happens as a result of sun exposure. Not everybody experiences sun spots noticeably, but the deconstructing of melanin still occurs.
Acne Scarring & Hyperpigmentation
Acne scarring is almost non-preventable because almost no one in their youth can resist squeezing a pimple that is ready (or not) to pop. I seriously haven’t touched my face in years though it’s taken skin treatments, exceptional at home skin rituals and discipline. No squeezing (extracting) should actually happen unless it’s done properly and who learns this lesson until it’s too late? Most of us start the process as teenagers and I for one know I came out of high school with a multitude of acne scars and spots because it was one of those uncomfortable things that didn’t have a remedy and the cycle of puncturing my face just continued. What’s left when that pimple pops? Ruptured pores and skin damage.
In A Scientific Nutshell
Think about all of the gunk, toxins, excess oil – LIFE that gets trapped in your pores and underneath your skin. What goes in comes out through your skin (pores) if it’s not healthily or fully absorbed and cycled. I.e. that gunk, those toxins, and anything excess that doesn’t belong under your skin has to exit your system somehow. Pores get clogged and pimples occur. When we squeeze, touch, and puncture that skin blood vessels are ruptured and in some cases skin becomes broken. Broken skin equals skin and tissue repair in the form of a scar (your skin takes a different shape then before hence creates a different texture). Simple rupture in blood vessel/skin aggravation temporarily discolors that particular area of the skin causing dark spots/hyperpigmentation.
Now that the damage is done how do you correct it? Well, you are in luck and you have options! As always, do what’s best for you and bear in mind one thing: the key to successful results in all areas of your life is consistency. There is no exception with your skin goals.
My top tip for achieving any goal, right beside consistency, is to remember why you want to achieve the goal in the first place. How will you feel? What does that feeling do for you? Hold that in mind and it will motivate your consistency long term.
Back to the tips on how to resurface your skin and minimize hyperpigmentation and dark spots.
- Exfoliate superficially (abrasive/mechanical) and chemically (think: glycolic/AHA/BHA)
- Stack your antioxidant intake in nutrition and skincare (superfoods + VitaminC)
- Stabilize your hormones as best you’re able (acupuncture, transformational eq work, Chinese herbs, etc.)
- Dial your product-game strong to include these ingredients: retinol or retinoid, niacinamide, peptides, spf
- Schedule professional skincare treatments: IPL and BBL photo laser, chemical peels, microdermabrasion
The following products are the product combo in routine I used near straight for two years with primary focus being evening out my skin tone and secondary focus retexturizing. This wasn’t a focus because of sun damage so much as acne scarring, yes – scarring not just marking. **R+F I purchased from a friend and now that she’s no longer selling I’ve swapped out those products.
Products & Routine
- Kate Somerville’s ExfoliKate® Intensive Pore Exfoliating Treatment. Nothing really compares to this double-whammy exfoliator although I’m moving on as I’ve used it for 3 years and have others I’m testing in its place. Usage: 3x/week in the shower on an already clean face (do not use this to remove makeup). Resurfacing contributor.
- R+F Redefine Daily Cleansing Mask: The clay in this product was key in really soaking up/pulling impurities out of the skin. Usage: night, rotated with Reverse face wash and Fresh face wash depending on my skin’s daily need. Maintenance.
- R+F Reverse Deep Exfoliating Wash: I fell in love with the feel of this gentle (once you get used to it) exfoliator. It is way less topically abrasive than many hence you can use it on the daily without the need to rotate with other cleansers even though I did. Usage: morning in shower or night, rotated with Redefine face wash and Fresh face wash depending on my skin’s daily need. Resurfacing contributor.
- Fresh Soy Makeup Removing Face Wash: This cleanser is so incredibly gentle and doubles as a make-up remover. It got rid of any milia I was experiencing at the time. Also a great cleanser to use post any professional skin treatment. Usage: morning or night, rotated with Reverse face wash and Fresh face wash depending on my skin’s daily need. Maintenance.
- R+F Intensive Brightening Toner (not to be confused with their lightening toner). Incredible product that I really did fall in love with once I saw the results. Usage: morning and night. Currently back to using Dr. Gross peel pads in its place. Resurfacing & lightening contributor.
- Kate Somerville’s ExfoliKate Glow Moisturizer. Read why I love this product here and also read about the product I now use that I’ve swapped it out with. Usage: morning and sometimes night. Resurfacing & lightening contributor.
- Forget Beauty Harmonized Clarifying Serum. This product is truly great for keeping acne in check as well as serving up all the benefits that retinaldehyde, niacinamide, salicylic acid and burdock root provide. Usage: nighttime only. Maintenance.
- Forget Beauty Nurtured Replenishing Oil. Love this as the final layer before applying moisturizer. Also an incredible aid post any professional skin treatment to support the healing process. Usage: daily as last step pre-moisturizer and use it every month of the year (minus when in a hot, sunny climate as oil attracts way too much sunlight which will equal a burn). Maintenance.
- Forget Beauty Awakened Hydrating Serum. It’s packed with hyaluronic acid, ferulic acid, phloretin and so many other incredible ingredients. Usage: this is the first serum I apply each morning. Maintenance.
- Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil. This product is incredible and it contains one of my all time favorite skincare ingredients: blue tansy. Blue tansy is incredible for soothing redness, something that was once an issue for me – I was always flushed. Read more here on how I stumbled upon this product and for a product breakdown in greater detail. I am in full love with this product and half way through my second bottle. A little really does go a long way. Usage: nighttime as a standalone product as it is potent and moisturizing enough that nothing else is needed to seal it in post application. Ultra soothing, resurfacing, lightening and maintenance.
- May Lindstrom Skin The Blue Cocoon. I’ve been hooked on this product strong since 2014. Usage: this is the last product I would usually apply before bed at night post any serum I might be using although I’d often use it on it’s own. Ultra soothing, maintenance.
- Osmosis Pure Medical Skincare’s Calm Level 2. This product is great for calming skin and reducing redness. Usage: I would normally mix one pump of this with one pump of Forget Beauty’s Empowered Serum and then seal with the Blue Cocoon or my moisturizer. Resurfacing and maintenance.
- Sunscreen: read this post on my sunscreen recco’s. Usage: last layer pre-makeup. Maintenance.
Products I’ve since swapped/product’s I’ve more recently incorporated within the past 6 months:
- Dr. Dennis Gross Ultra Gentle Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel Pads. Have had these on rotation since 2012 and they are great for travel. This is an incredible product to use in the am. to create a clean slate.
- Lancer The Method: Polish Normal-Combination Skin. Just purchased this last Sephora sale/March 2020. Loving the consistency of the topical, gritty exfoliator feel. Similar consistency to touch as Zo Skin’s exfoliator if your’e ever tried it, i.e. super fine granules.
- Sunday Riley Good Genes. I have been using this for 6 months and started out with a sample. The glycolic in this product really does tighten the skin and pores if that’s something you’re looking for. When choosing product’s with a glycolic acid in them, check on the strength of the ingredient (percentage) or where the ingredient falls on the ingredient list. If you’re used to a stronger level of glycolic and pick up a product with a lower level you’ll be disappointed and vice versa. Just a tip 🙂
- Sunday Riley Ceramic Slip. I have been using this product for two months with the intention of having it replace my R+F Redefine clay cleanser and although it doesn’t do the same job (two very different products) my skin is loving it.
- Skinceuticals Phyto Corrective Gel. I’m awaiting arrival on this one! I’ve tried a number of Skinceutical products since 2012 and am trying a few more present day. The ingredients in this product are what drew me to it. Shall report back once I’ve had the chance to soak it up and experience it.
Pro tip: mix one pump of Sunday Riley Good Genes into Sunday Riley’s Ceramic Slip for an active version of the Ceramic Slip cleanser.
I’ll do a product breakdown in another post and/or video but for now know that the above combo in cleanse, tone, exfoliate and moisturize does work! Also to note I’ve been regularly getting professional facials every 4-6 weeks for 8 years consistently which has been a combination of microdermabrasion, laser therapy, peels, microneedling and hydrafacials. In my early stages of “beat adult acne” I also did facial acupuncture monthly for 2-3 years, and I cannot say enough good about acupuncture.
My skin type: combination to oily and ultra thirsty (no dry patches). I had acne scarring and did 3 laser treatments overall in year one, and from there did whatever my rockstar celebrity facialist (friend and former client) suggested from there.
Always do what’s right for you and know that home care and nutrition is critical!
My rule of thumb in which products I consume and where I purchase my products goes like this:
- I choose/invest in products based on aligned values and/or I know the founders and believe in what they’re creating.
- I shop small.
- Next choice is shopping larger retailer and valuing their service as well
- I love collecting loyalty points so anywhere I can collect points (aside from credit card points) is a bonus.
- That’s it! It’s pretty simple 😉