Spa Pros on Lightening Dark Spots and Balancing Complexions
Gina Barron, owner, Rituals Aesthetic Skin Care in Burlingame, California: There are so many skin conditions that fall under the umbrella of hyperpigmentation—and it’s one of the most difficult issues that we address as estheticians— but what we tend to see most often in the facial room are solar lentigines (also known as age spots or liver spots) and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH), which can result from acne, picking or incorrect use of chemical peels, microneedling or lasers—unfortunately, I’ve seen them all!
Aliesh Pierce, licensed esthetician, Polished Rx Skin Couture in Long Beach, California, and author of Treating Diverse Pigmentation (Milady, 2013): My clients experience every type imaginable, but PIH has been the most common, with melasma in second place. Now that I’m working in a medical spa with an affluent clientele, I see a lot more solar lentigines and lipofuscin (this ‘age pigment’ is a byproduct of free radical damage).
Autumn Henry, lead esthetician and trainer, Exhale Spa in New York City: The population of New York City is extremely diverse, so I find that my guests present hyperpigmentation in all of its varied forms. However, the two types I see most frequently are freckling from environmental exposure and post-inflammatory discoloration.
Pierce: I customize my Signature Facial (90 min./from $150) based on each client’s skin condition. PIH is best addressed with a cocktail of ingredients, which is why I like Saian’s Brightening Series protocol. Following the basic steps, I’m able to incorporate kojic acid, lactic acid, arbutin, Tyrostat (a powerful tyrosinase inhibitor and anti-inflammatory), Nonapeptide-1, Melanostatine 5 (which prevents melanocortin 1) and even salicylic acid into one service.
Barron: Our most effective treatment is our Light Therapy Facial coupled with the Le Mieux AML 20% Peel (75 min./$220). This combination targets hyperpigmentation and inflammation with advanced brightening agents and peptides, along with thorough exfoliation and red light that penetrates the skin to reduce dark spots and even out skin tone via intracellular stimulation.
Henry: The best course of action I provide my guests is the Brighten Facial (60 min./$200). Depending on the type and condition of the skin, I recommend a series of six (for a 25 percent discount), to be received every two to four weeks. It’s an exclusive iS CLINICAL facial that includes deep cleansing, extractions and massage, but truly makes a difference because of the Resurfacing Masque—a potent blend of alpha hydroxy acids, enzymes and vitamin A that removes melanin-stained keratinocytes and promotes healthy cellular renewal.
What homecare regimen do you recommend for maintaining an even complexion?
Henry: Brightening facials can’t possibly work their magic without at-home support. I recommend iS CLINICAL White Lightening Complex, a lightweight moisturizer that provides daytime-safe exfoliation with willow bark and sugar cane, while delivering melanin-suppressing bilberry and licorice. For continued brightening overnight, iS CLINICAL Active Serum gently lightens spots, evens texture and prevents the breakouts that can cause PIH. Additionally, there’s no point in investing in a series of brightening facials if clients don’t prevent future damage with a quality SPF. Pierce: I send each guest home with the ability to recreate the facial service they’ve received—including a prescription for 7.5 percent kojic acid (I use 15 percent in the treatment).
Barron: Le Mieux’s Brightening Collection is used throughout the facial as well as for home care. We recommend the brand’s Vita-C Serum, which balances uneven tone to restore a healthy, youthful glow. But the most important product for fighting hyperpigmentation is sunscreen!
–by Alexa Joy Sherman