The short answer is “No!” But I know you’re all wondering about the real answer so pay attention as it’s going to get a bit geeky which personally l love being a science geek.
So here goes! Pop quiz. What’s the name of the cell that produces that yucky brown pigment that you see on your skin that appears most of the time in splotches. If you guess the melanocyte, you get a gold star! So here’s where it gets interested. During this current cultural climate of #BLM I think it’s important to note that we all bleed red, we all have the same organs unless we’ve had to have one surgically removed and we’re all at risk for the same illnesses. Here’s the ONE thing outside of cultural or religious traditions that makes use different.
They’re called dendrites. If I were sitting in my office next to you, I’d draw you a picture of a melanocyte. Picture a circle which is the cell. Now picture octopus arms coming out of that cell. Those are called dendrites. They are the vehicles that melanin travels through to make its way up to our epidermis which is the outer layers of our skin. The ONLY think that makes a caucasian person different from someone who is Indian, Native American, Hispanic, Black, etc. is the number of dendrites. Because I’m a white Jewish girl, I have fewer dendrites than someone who is one of the above ethnicities. It makes me sick to my stomach how racist too many people in the world are when the only thing that makes us different is the number of dendrites we have – that’s it!
So here’s where it’s going to get geeky so stick with me. Let’s say (gasp!), you go for a walk or hike and you forget to put on your sunscreen. I know if you’re one of my clients you’d never do that because I’ve already put the fear of G-d as well as the fear of skin cancer and ugly brown spots in you. Anyways, you go for a last minute hike and forget to reapply your sunscreen. OR, you get in the hot tub and don’t bring a cold towel with you to put over your face (yes, write that down for future reference because heat also causes hyperpigmentation), the first thing that happens is your melanocyte begins producing an enzyme called tyrosinase. This enzyme is the precursor to melanin which is the pigment that travels through those dendrites. If the cell doesn’t produce tyrosinase, then no melanin is produced, hence the term tyrosinase inhibitors. The way it works, is you apply whatever lightening product that you’re using and as long as you’re wearing sunscreen, your melanocyte won’t produce tyrosinase which means you won’t hyperpigment.
There are many different ingredients that are tyrosinase inhibitors and no, bleach isn’t one of them. Some of them off the top of my head are hydroquinone (fine to use for a few months at a time for moderate to severe pigmentation but toxic to the liver if used for too long), Kojic acid from a type of mushroom, and peptides that work by telling the cells what to do. If you have mild hyperpigmentation you can use your lightening product (all over not just treating the spots) once a day. If you’re moderate to severe, then I recommend using it morning and night, over toner and under your other serums and moisturizer or face oil. You’ll want to make sure that you’re also using either a good lactic acid serum or a retinol based product along with your lightening product so that you’re getting some sort of exfoliation on a daily basis and this will speed up the timing in which you see results. Coming in for peels once a week will also speed up the process.
Now if you have true melasma then you’re going to have to have a lot more patience and use your products twice a day religiously and avoid saunas, hot tubs and steam rooms as heat can make it worse. I had one client that had lightened beautifully and then she got a sinus infection and purchased one of those heat up masks. The poor thing turned brown all over :(. Melasma is caused by hormones and the sun whether it be from birth control, bioidentical hormone replacement therapy or being pregnant. Hormones and the sun do not go together and if you’re on hormone therapy or are pregnant and go in the sun without protection, you’re going to be incredibly unhappy because melasma is the hardest type of pigmentation to treat. But don’t fret, it can fade but it’s going to take a lot long than a few months. We’re talking one to two years. I have a client who has been coming to me forever and she had true melasma. She came to me once a month religiously for two years and voila, her melasma went away and to this day is still gone as you’d never even believe she ever had it. In a perfect world, you’d come in once a week for a half hour lactic acid peel as you’ll get faster results or invest in our POM Signature one week peel or really invest in a TCA peel where you actually peel and you’ll get results much sooner.
If you’d like to book a consultation and get started on a lightening product and book an appointment for your first peel or a package of peels, either book online or call us at (818) 769-0302.