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  • What You Need to Know About Hydroquinone (and The Alternatives)

    If you have ever considered skin lightening to reduce the appearance of acne marks, sun spots, melasma, or other dark spots, you have probably come across the ingredient hydroquinone. What is hydroquinone, and does it pose any risks to your skin? Here, we explain the potential risks of using hydroquinone cream and alternative options for skin lightening.

    The Basics: What It Is

    Hydroquinone is a skin-bleaching agent that is often used to lighten freckles, age spots, and other skin discolorations. It works by inhibiting enzyme activity that in turn reduces skin’s production of melanin. Because of its effectiveness at fading hyperpigmentation and a range of other skin discoloration issues, it is an active ingredient in many popular skin care lines.

    Risks

    Hydroquinone is the fastest way to lighten stubborn pigment, but if you are not comfortable with it, there are many alternatives to try.

    Alternatives

    At Leah Nickie ADVANCED AESTHETICS, we offer several hydroquinone-free treatments that are just as effective at lightening skin. Phytowhite Dark Spot Serum is GM Collin’s hydroquinone-free botanical lightener. In tests, it performed just as well as 4% hydroquinone without any of the risks, irritation, or need to discontinue after three months.  It contains curcumin and niacinamide, both of which are potent anti-inflammatories; licorice extract to reduce melanin production; and l-ergothianine, a powerful antioxidant. The serum also includes vitamin C and glycolic and azelaic acids, which lighten and stimulate collagen. The AHA acids in the serum can make skin more sensitive to the sun, so it’s best to apply this product at night. As always, be sure to apply a sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher during the day.

    Phytowhite Cream, a companion product to the Phytowhite Dark Spot Serum, is a light moisturizer that can be used each morning and evening. It does not contain SPF, however, so be sure to apply sunscreen over it every day. It is both corrective and preventative, and contains an abundance of botanical lighteners, anti-inflammatories, and antioxidants including resveratrol and vitamin C.

    If you’re battling with melasma or otherwise looking to treat skin discoloration, our team of experts is ready to help you choose the most effective treatment option. At Leah Nickie ADVANCED AESTHETICS, we are pleased to offer you a complimentary initial consultation so that we may get to know you and your individual skin concerns. Contact us to schedule your appointment!

    Feature photo courtesy of Pexels under Creative Commons 0 License

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  • Why You Should Choose Products Without Parabens and Synthetic Fragrances

    When you look at the packaging of beauty products, you may notice labels screaming ‘sulfate-free,’ ‘no parabens,’ ‘fragrance free,’ and ‘all-natural.’ What do these claims really mean, and how do you know what is actually important for the health of your skin? Here we will attempt to answer that question by explaining why you should consider beauty products without parabens and synthetic fragrances.

    Parabens, which are preservatives that prevent bacteria from growing in products, have been widely used since the 1950s and can be found in about 85 percent of cosmetics. The most common types of parabens are butylparaben, methylparaben, and propylparaben. Why are they cause for concern? These chemicals easily penetrate the skin and can have unintended consequences on hormone function, male reproductive functions, and more. Studies have also indicated that when applied directly to the skin, methylparaben reacts with the sun’s UVB rays and damages DNA and promotes aging. Over the last few years, many brands have begun manufacturing paraben-free moisturizers, serums, sunscreens, anti-aging products, and other skin care applications in response to consumer concerns.

    Synthetic fragrances (listed as “parfum” on many ingredient lists) are another item that you should pay attention to on your skin care packaging. While these scents aren’t necessarily synthetic, it’s still a good idea to double check the source of the scent on the company’s website. Many skin care companies include “fragrance” on their ingredients lists to protect their formulas, but pledge that it is and always has been botanically derived.

    Other times, synthetic fragrances can contain mixtures of various chemicals that produce a desired scent. While they may smell nice, more than 95 percent of the chemicals used in synthetic fragrances are derived from petrochemicals and include benzene derivatives (a known carcinogen), aldehydes, and other toxins that have been linked to cancer, birth defects, central nervous system disorders, and allergies. Some of these chemicals are even listed on the EPA’s hazardous waste list. Yikes!

    Not only can the effects of synthetic fragrances wreak havoc on your long-term health, but the chemicals are directly absorbed through the skin and into the bloodstream, potentially causing skin irritation, headaches, dizziness, and rashes. Even if the packaging claims a product to be “fragrance free,” read the label carefully; products can still contain fragrance ingredients to cover up other chemical smells.

    When it comes to the products that you rely on to protect your skin every day, it’s important to be knowledgeable about what goes into them. Carefully inspecting the labels on all of your bottles and sprays is an excellent way to start noticing which of your go-to products contain synthetic fragrances and parabens. From there, you can decide how you would like to proceed. In any case, you can never be too informed.

    We take great pride in educating our clients on optimal skin care and health. All of our cosmeceutical skin care products are paraben-free, do not contain synthetic fragrance, are cruelty-free, and are never tested on animals. Contact us to schedule a free consultation so that we can discuss your unique skin care needs in greater detail.

    Feature photo via Pixabay

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  • Understanding Laser Hair Removal

    Shaving, waxing, and tweezing unwanted body hair takes a lot of time, not to mention the expense of purchasing countless razors, creams, and hot wax. Laser hair removal is one of the most popular cosmetic procedures in the U.S., and is an ideal solution for anyone who wants to put an end to the year-round upkeep of hair removal. Here’s what you need to know about the treatment:

    How does it work?

    During a laser hair removal session, hair follicles are targeted with a concentrated beam of light. The light is absorbed by the pigment of the hair, which damages the follicle and prevents future growth.

    Does it hurt?

    Everyone’s threshold for pain is different, but many patients compare the lasers to a gentle pinch or the snap of a light rubber band on your skin. Sensitive spots, like the bikini area, may hurt more than others. Taking an Advil or Motrin 20 minutes prior to the session can help ease the discomfort.

    How long does it take?

    The length of a session depends on the size of the area you’re treating. While the upper lip could take minutes, a larger area like the legs or back could last more than an hour (American Academy of Dermatology).

    How many sessions do I need for permanent hair removal?

    A series of treatments are generally required to see long-term results. Most patients need between four to eight treatments, and after each one, you’ll notice that fewer and fewer hairs return. After several treatments, the unwanted hair is removed for several months. When the hair regrows, most patients notice that it is considerably less hair than before, as well as finer and lighter in color (AAD). Most patients can go four to six weeks between treatments, but your laser therapist or technician will determine the appropriate frequency for your skin.

    What areas does it cover?

    Laser hair removal is designed for use on most parts of the body, including:

    • Back
    • Legs
    • Bikini area
    • Chest
    • Face (most often the upper lip and chin)
    • Neck
    • Shoulders

    What is the recovery like?

    Laser hair removal generally does not require any major downtime, so you can pretty much carry on with your normal activities. Immediately after the session, you may notice that the treated skin appears red and swollen. Post-session breakouts are also common because the treatment leaves hair follicles open for a few days. Use an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream or antibacterial lotion to help prevent blemishes from forming.

    How long does it last?

    The results of this process vary widely from person to person, but lasers can remove hair for anywhere from several months to years.

    Everyone's skin is different, which is why it is imperative to discuss your skin treatment options with a professional. At Leah Nickie ADVANCED AESTHETICS, your initial consultation is always free, and we will walk you through the laser hair removal process to ensure you achieve the best results possible. If you are interested in laser hair removal, schedule a consultation today to meet with one of our experts.

    Feature photo via Unsplash

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