Fine lines, dark spots, acne scarring, oh my! With thousands of products that promise to minimize our most dreaded complexion concerns, it is hard to decipher the truth from the fairy tales. At GLOW, we treat these concerns with lasers (IPL, SmartSkin C02, Fraxel). However, to achieve the best results, we recommend the use of prescription skincare post laser treatment. For dark spots and uneven skintone, we suggest the use of Hydroquinone. For dull skin and fine lines, the prescription called for is Tretinoin.
What is Hydroquinone?
Hydroquinone, also known as quinol, is a chemical complex that has a scented base. You can find 2% and below over the counter; however, you will receive the most noticeable results with the 4% Hydroquinone available only by prescription. Hydroquinone works as a skin lightener without some of the allergic reactions commonly associated with other skin lightening products (metol). It helps with the whitening of freckles, sun spots, age spots, and other skin discolorations associated with pregnancy, skin trauma, birth control pills, or hormone replacement therapy.
How does Hydroquinone lighten the skin?
Hydroquinone works as a lightner by stopping the enzymes in the skin from reacting and producing melanin. Melanin is the pigment that gives human skin, hair, and eyes their color. Dark-skinned people have more melanin in their skin than light-skinned people. Since melanin provides some protection against skin damage from the sun, the skin cells increase their production of melanin in response to sun exposure. Freckles are small concentrated areas of increased melanin production. When hydroquinone is consistently applied to freckled skin, it begins to break up the melanin and the freckles begin to fade. For the best results, use hydroquinone twice daily after washing your face.
What is Tretinoin?
Tretinoin is another name for Retin-A, Avita, or Renova. It is a derivative of Vitamin A and is the treatment of choice for acne, whiteheads, and blackheads. Tretinoin is also the ONLY topical medication that has been proven to improve wrinkles.
How does Tretinoin work?
Tretinoin works to treat acne because it causes skin to peel, unclogging pores and helping the skin's oil glands to function normally. It succesfully treats the signs of aging by increasing cell turnover, helping exfoliate the outer layers of skin to reveal fresher skin. Initially, your skin may feel dry and irritated. I usually recommend starting at a lower dose (.25%) or by using it only 2-3 times a week. Once your skin begins to get used to the product, increasing to a higher percentage or daily use will provide the best results. Tretinoin should be used once a day at night. Due to its exfoliating properties, it is not typically recommended for daytime use.
A few more tips...
When using prescription skincare, make sure to closely follow directions from you doctor. Even though they provide excellent results, they can also cause many undesirable conditions if used improperly. As with all skincare recommendations, always apply sun protection during the day and a moisturizer at night. When applying several products, let each product have a chance to dry before applying another.
Pre and Post Laser Skincare
If you are interested in lightening dark spots or evening out skincare, beginning Hydroquinone two weeks prior to the laser treatment is highly recommended to kick start the lightening process. For Tretinoin, follow direction from you doctor. A rule of thumb is to discontinue use 1 week prior to your laser treatment and wait to resume use until 14 days post laser treatment. Post treatment skincare varies with the intensity of the laser. Typically, for lasers like IPL and Fraxel, you are able to resume most skincare products the day after treatment. With a more aggressive laser, such as the SmartSkin C02, you may need to take a little break from exfoliating products containing vitamin A, Alpha Hydroxy Acids or Beta Hydroxy Acids. Each case is different, so be sure to ask your doctor. At GLOW, when you receive a SmartSkin C02 treatment, we provide you with an IMAGE post treatment kit containing a gentle cleanser and rich moisturizers to ensure great results.
Combating your concerns does not mean you need a fairy godmother. Simply, talk to your doctor to get the prescription-grade products you need. They will surely give your current skincare a boost and provide you with noticeable results that cannot be accomplished with over-the-counter products.