I am blessed with skin that is not too bad: apart from brown spots.There has not been too much loss of volume (carrying an extra few kilos doesn’t hurt), and apart from my eye area, there are not too many fine lines – I can not complain about that side of it.
But when it comes to uneven colouring as I am getting older, dark large hyper pigmentation spots are multiplying every day it seems. I have tried every brightening/whitening/exfoliating product on the market and nothing seems to work.
Three Beauty Therapists on different occasions have told me that I basically have to put up with it and live with it, that my skin is too dark to do anything about. Any treatment may leave me with lighter skin than my base skin colour, and let’s face it, (excuse the pun), this is harder to cover up than a darker area.
So I resigned myself to the fact that: “Yes, I have hyper pigmentation, ah well, I will just wear a shit load of make up every day for the rest of my life. There are worse things!”
It was after one of my full coverage foundation review that a local Beauty Therapist, Dani, private messaged me and said: “Barbe, I can help you!” And I wanted to jump through my IPhone6’s smashed screen and give her a huge cuddle! Because even though I do a good job covering my dark spots, it was getting harder to camouflage and Dermablend was only one step away. I am not going to lie, it was bothering the hell out of me.
Before I tell you about the treatment, let me tell you WHY people get hyper pigmentation.
Hyper pigmentation is when melanin is overproduced in certain areas of the skin, making those areas darker. There are a few causes for this:
- Sun damage/exposure. The killer. My driving side is so much worse than my left side. 50+ EVERY. FREAKIN. DAY. And reapply every few hours if you can.
- Trauma. Acne or other scarring
- Hormonal changes. Also referred to as melasma, can occur during pregnancy, or while taking the pill, or, as is in my case, going through a sudden onset and early menopause from going through chemo therapy twice
- Freckles. These are also a form of hyper pigmentation but are usually genetically inherited.
- Age. Of course that is not me. Nuh huh.
Daniela Boerma from Bliss Day Spa in Caringbah has won the coveted title of Beauty Therapist of the Year for 2 years in a row for a reason. I have never known anyone with a passion for skincare like she has. Her goal in life is to help people to achieve the best skin that is possible, whether it is to minimise scarring, or treat acne riddled skin. She has a passion for new technology, and her salon looks like a space ship with all the high tech machines.
After a thorough consultation, an IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) treatment plan was created. She explained that because of the colour of my skin, we would take extreme caution and do 2 test shots to see how my skin reacts before we start the treatment. Because I have part Asian skin, this can be deceiving in the way the melanin sits. It will be trial and error. (If you want to be very technical, my skin is approximately a 4 on the Fitzpatrick scale)
IPL is a light treatment that targets “darker” more pigmented areas. The light is converted into heat energy which then destroys those targeted areas, while still ensuring the surrounding tissue is remained untouched. Careful planning is needed, trialling intensity of the light pulse.
The Test Shot 18 July.
A gel is applied and the eyes are covered, and it felt like a hot elastic band was flicked against the skin. Not unbearable, but this was only the test shot. Dani tested my skin with different settings until she was happy with the result. A darkening of the pigmentation spot with a lovely milky whiteness was the ideal result. Darkening because the pigmentation was “grabbed” properly, and the whiteness around it because collagen is rushing to the area. (a wonderful side effect of IPL is plumping and tightening!) The treatment was decided on to be in 3 weeks. Dani was also going to use the Q Switch (also used for Tattoo removal) machine on particularly dark and stubborn areas, like on my nose.
First Treatment 25 August
I was excited and apprehensive all at the same time. Will I be flawless? Yes pretty please!
This setting was much higher than the initial test shot, and therefor the pain was more intense too. It still was not unbearable, but it did hurt AF. It was over very quickly though, a little bit like a Mammogram, just when you think it is too much it stops.
After the whole face was done, the Q Switch is a more targeted, small beam, which feels more like very fast pinpricks.
My face felt very hot afterwards, like a bad sunburn. This only lasted a couple of hours, I did not even need the cold compresses that are recommended when the heat gets too much.
This is what my face looked like, immediately after the treatment. WARNING. It aint pretty.
The spots became gradually darker over the next few days, but I covered it up easily with make up. Dani had warned me my face might swell a little, but apart from the spot under my eye, it wasn’t too bad. Day 4 was probably the worst. The spots that were done with the Q Switch actually scabbed over, unlike the rest that just slowly came to the surface and looked like coffee ground.
Second Treatment 15 September
Dani was extremely happy with the colour, and texture of my skin, but she is a perfectionist. Dani suggested a second all over IPL treatment to get the last of the dark spots. I have this image of her in my head with a Super Power cape on and the IPL handgun in the hand waving it around: ” Damn you pigmentation! Away you go!”
Yes. It hurt. But it is good pain. Because I know my face is going to look AMAZING when Dani was done.
Funnily enough, this time there was swelling. The weekend straight after the treatment I did a fashion photo shoot, and I can definitely see how my face and eyes were really puffy. I was super careful, slapping on sunscreen, make up and I wore a hat for a week afterwards!
So here I am. With a nearly flawless face. I am absolutely over the moon with my skin. The very, very dark spot on my nose, is just a little bit of a shadow now. The spots have faded significantly, or have disappeared altogether. Another side effect of IPL that I had not even thought about, is that it has a beautiful tightening and smoothing effect on the skin. IPL not only targets pigmentation, but stimulates collagen and tightens pores! Dani is a perfectionist, and feels we could do a little better with a setting, but we will leave that until next April, when I will have my maintenance treatment.
Had it not been for Dani and her confidence, knowledge and her willingness to help, I would be wearing stage make up by now. Instead, I am wearing BB Cream, or a light to medium cover foundation or just a sunscreen.
From here on, a maintenance treatment, once or twice a year is all that is needed.
Just a few notes if you are thinking about having IPL yourself:
- This is a Winter treatment. Your skin needs to be completely untanned and your base colour so your therapist can assess your skin type/colour
- Be prepared to have your skin looking worse, before it gets to look better.
- Be prepared for discomfort or even pain
- Be prepared to wear sunblock 50+ every day and stay as much out of the sun as is humanly possible in Australia especially.
- Be guided by your beauty therapist about aftercare. She will recommend a vitamin A and/or C serum to suppress the melanin from rising.
Trust between your therapist and yourself is the most important thing. Trust in her abilities, ask about her previous experience with treating your skin colour.
If you are in Sydney, I can highly recommend Dani and her team at Bliss Day Spa. She is amazing. Knowledgable, passionate and experienced. And twice Beauty Therapist of the Year. Need I say more?
Bliss Day Spa
Shop 2, 10-20 Mackay Street
Caringbah NSW 2229
Tel: 02 9526 6182
*Please note this treatment was a gift for reviewing purpose, but all comments and opinions are my own and 100% honest. Results may differ for others.
Til Next time,