If only it were as easy as waving a Harry Potter wand and all the damage that years of spit roasting in the sun in pursuit of the perfect tan have done, could be magicked away! Well it might not be instant or magic but a treatment that a good friend of mine recently tried has certainly left her transformed in more ways than one!

As someone who follows the 5 Buddhist precepts (let’s call her ‘Harry’ for the purposes of this musing), she’s not a fan of pampering herself as it conflicts with her minimalist way of life, so when she asked me about what she could do to lighten the chloasma (also known as melasma) she had developed over the last few years, I offered several pieces of advice…

Firstly, what is chloasma/melasma?

The symptoms of chloasma are dark, irregular, well demarcated, hyperpigmented macules to patches commonly found on the upper cheek, nose, lips, upper lip, and forehead. These patches often develop gradually over time and can mostly be attributed to sun damage.

Whilst chloasma does not cause any other symptoms beyond the cosmetic discoloration, it can be a very distressing condition for the sufferer who will often feel the need to apply a very thick concealer or makeup in order to disguise the pigmentation. It is also common in pre-menopausal women and is thought to be enhanced by surges in certain hormones. Brilliant – something else to look forward to 🙁

So what advice did I give Harry?

Well, there are ‘brightening’ products and systems now widely available to deal with hyperpigmentation such as this, but with so many treatments available, from retinol to laser and everything in between, which one should she go for?

Exfoliants

Some brightening products such as retinol and AHAs, act as exfoliants and will slough off any dead skin which increases skin cell turnover, thus improving melanin (pigment) dispersion. Professional microdermabrasion is also great for this, but what other ingredients are key to improving the appearance of this condition?

Lightening products

Topical lightening agents help to reduce pigmentation by inhibiting enzymes that produce melanin. Some common lightening agents include; kojic acid, azelic acid, liquorice, sabi white, mulberry and, skin brightening peptides. These products need to be applied for at least 3 months.

Antioxidants

The use of antioxidant serums is also key to improving and maintaining the appearance of hyperpigmentation so incorporate topical vitamins C, E and B into your skincare regime too!

Medical treatments

Treatments such as laser or chemical peels can be extremely effective but there is significant down time, particularly with laser, which can also be pretty pricey :-0

So what else is available as an ‘at-home’ treatment?

Whilst professional microdermabrasion is very effective, regular treatments can become quite costly, so investing in a tool that you can use in the comfort of your own home and at considerably less expense (in the long term), made the decision making process for Harry relatively easy 🙂

The tool

DermaTx Microdermabrasion Brighten System consists of a Cleanse and Exfoliate 2-in-1 handheld device and a cream containing professional grade corundum crystals, as well as some intensive skin brightening agents to improve skin texture and tone. With a blend of protective antioxidants to fight the damaging effects of free radicals through sun-exposure, the cream also infuses the skin with powerful moisturising ingredients to deeply hydrate. Sonic micro-pulsing with the crystals provides a superior microdermabrasion treatment and claims to reduce the appearance of pigmentation, as well as fine lines, wrinkles, acne scarring and enlarged pores, leaving you with a radiant looking complexion.

Day One

“So the ridiculously expensive tube of cream arrived with a *FREE Vibrator – wahoo!
I turned my nose up at the price of it, chucked the box and money-off vouchers for future purchases in the recycling (I’m never going to spend this money again on face cream) and hid cream and vibrator in the bathroom so I wouldn’t have to think about having blown £80. Then caught sight of myself in the bathroom mirror after 3 yoga classes and thought I might as well give it a whirl.
So I followed the instructions and massaged my face with the cream and vibrator – for maybe a little longer than the prescribed 2 minutes (well you can’t give a girl a vibrator and prescribe ONLY 2 minutes?!) and I DO feel like the chloasma is a little less ingrained and almost more freckly than patchy – possible after just one treatment or am I imagining things? Skin is tingling – is it supposed to?
Just rummaged thru recycling to locate 20% off next purchase voucher just in case this actually does work after all!”

*This is the handheld device with which you apply the cream, and not an actual vibrator!

Day Two

“Spurred on tonight by how easy my makeup was to apply today and the slightly remaining tingling feeling on my skin, I used the brush attachment rather than the sponge.
I totally did about 5 X longer than prescribed because it felt like a treat and I was encouraged to notice how yesterday’s spot on my chin had dried out within 24 hours after microdermabrasion-ing it!
So I included my neck and the skin in front of my ears and went for it on my nose. Pleased to see my nose pores clean and shiny and empty even under my rock-star mirror lighting, I hadn’t noticed how bad they were until I see them now clean.
I see also that a few little thread veins are coming up so I have to be careful in that area and avoid that bit tomorrow.
Feeling again that my chloasma are not as solid as they were – but more spaces between them, more like patches of freckles than dense blocks of brown skin on each cheek.
As I’m doing this I’m remembering what my skin used to be like 20 years ago before I sun damaged it in my attempts to get rid of my acne. I haven’t paid so much attention to my skin in years. I feel frivolous, (I’m a middle-aged, celibate, Buddhist, single mum – who CARES what my skin looks like?!) but the daily facial massage feels good and as if I’m getting rid of layers of dead old stuff, so that’s Saucha (cleanliness) at least Aparigraha (letting go of) so I’m justifying it spiritually so far at least.”

Day Three

“I couldn’t WAIT to vibrate my face today – which I did in the bath for about 10 minutes again – this time with the sponge attachment.
Maybe I overdid it a little as face defo felt a little sore afterwards especially on the extra dark patches where I applied more pressure.
Packet says 1-2 times a week or more as desired but I’m feeling I might not have any face left if I continue daily use – so I plan to give it a miss over the weekend and recommence Monday.
Great news is that I caught sight of myself in the mirror at the swimming pool tonight – anything like Hot Yoga/Swimming/Sauna where I can’t hide behind make up I feel self conscious about the marks – but you know what, it’s NOT as noticeable – I’m pale as milk but the skintone feels a lot more even. I might even ask a few friends if they notice anything different about me. Result!”

Day Five

“I didn’t use the machine today or yesterday. I met a friend yesterday who I hadn’t seen in a few months and the first thing he said was ‘You look well.’ Another friend today said ‘Your skin looks really nice – what have you done?’ AND a third friend moments later said ‘Your skin does look really good, what’s different.’ She could really notice the dark chloasma patches on my cheeks had faded down, without makeup, after only 4 sessions. She now wants one to use on her (minimal, but we all got our stuff) forehead wrinkles.
I’m glad I got this thing. It’s really noticeable to me how after just 4 sessions my skin tone is so much clearer, amazing really.
Thanks Zoe! X”

In conclusion…

Whilst Harry recognises that she may have used the tool a little more often than the prescribed number of times per week, the results would seem to speak for themselves 🙂

In her words, she is “quietly optimistic” about finally waving goodbye to her chloasma after all these years…

Imperative to protecting and maintaining these results, will be the daily use of a very good broad spectrum SPF30+ sunscreen (yes, even when it’s cloudy!)

I love SkinCeuticals Brightening UV Defense SPF30, which carries on the good work the tool has done, or a cheaper option is Natio’s Ageless Daily Moisturiser UV Protection SPF30 available from Tesco or, the moisturiser from Superdrug’s Optimum Phytodeluxe range that I reviewed in my blog spot Affordable Skincare With A Wow Factor.

The DermaTx Brighten Microdermabrasion System was awarded *Silver Winner for Best New Premium Skin Care Product ‪at the Pure Beauty Awards‬ 2015* and is available along with all SkinCeuticals products from DermacareDirect. If you use the code TOOL at the checkout you will receive a 20% discount on all DermaTx systems and refills throughout December 🙂

Magic

😉