Recently on Instagram, we asked you to ask me your most pressing skincare (and haircare) questions. Here are some of the questions and answers!
Hi! 😊 What are the best products for hyperpigmentation in women with dark skin tones? Is it best to go to a dermatologist if OTC products aren’t working?
It’s controversial, especially for dark skin tones, but Ambi Fade Cream has 2-4% hydroquinone and works like nothing else I’ve seen. It is less than $10 a bottle too — cheap enough for most everyone to test on a small patch of skin and discard if you don’t like the results or have an adverse reaction.
The one product everyone with discoloration needs is a 15% or higher vitamin C serum, and use it daily. If you want to spend more, Skinceuticals CE Ferulic is a classic that never goes out of style, and it works. (For $166-$180 a month, it should!) For midrange, our FutureDerm Vitamin CE Caffeic can’t be beat for $89. And for the bargainistas, Maelove Vitamin C Serum is decent for $28, as are those from The Ordinary (although I find them personally to be a bit irritating). Hope this helps!
What are your top 5 favorite peer reviewed journals?
Nature, New England Journal of Medicine, American Academy of Dermatology, Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, PLOS Medicine
It depends if your dark circles are caused by hyperpigmentation or blood pooling. If hyperpigmentation is the cause, then yes, vitamin C and niacinamide both help. If the cause is blood pooling, however, try Haloxyl, which helps with blood-related skin discoloration by affecting blood vessels.
To tell what causes your dark circles, pull down gently on your undereye skin. If they go away, it’s blood pooling. If they don’t, it’s hyperpigmentation. Hope this helps!
What is the best foundation for over 40’s to use please?
Depends — I’ve met women with amazing skin past 40, and some who need a little extra help. It runs the gamut. Assuming a little extra coverage is wanted (given the way you asked), Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation is the best. It provides great lightweight coverage, builds easily, and feels amazing on the skin.
What are the best acids for regular usage for normal skin? Just to keep pores clear & skin renewed. I’m also using retinol regularly (the usual strength, not prescription). Thank you!!!
I’m the world’s biggest fan of glycolic acid, lactic acid, and mandelic/magic acids. I recommend starting with a 10% glycolic acid. Right now I’m loving REN Skincare AHA Tonic — it’s pretty amazing and takes like a minute to treat skin at night.
How does Vitamin C ‘brighten’ skin?
That’s a great question. Vitamin C as L-ascorbic acid is shown in the literature to be a tyrosinase inhibitor. Tyrosinase is an enzyme needed to make melanin. So if tyrosinase is inhibited by Vitamin C, you don’t get sunspots, and in fact you get an overall brightening (and some say slight lightening) of the skin.
What do you think of Dr. Dennis Gross Spectralite Faceware Pro?
It’s good, so long as your face isn’t gaunt. Red LEDs help a lot with Collagen production and can truly reduce wrinkles over time, but they also can cause for a reduction of facial fat, and in persons who are already thin, it’s not a good look. The other thing is, it’s overpriced, as you can find 10,000 similar gadgets on Alibaba or whatnot, but you run risks buying them direct from manufacturers in China and such. So… I guess the answer is, it works, so long as your face isn’t too thin already and you don’t mind spending $435.
I read your advice regarding hair dye and bleach. My hair is brown and I recently made highlights in a professional salon. The stylist told me the product needed to have ammonia in it and that it was a discoloration (I’m sorry, my native language in not English, so I don’t know the correct term for it), which made me assume it was bleaching, but not sure. I love the result, but I hated the experience; my upper airways were very irritated by the gases released and I’m scared of the next appointment. I’m seriously considering buying a gas mask and using it during the process (staying in a separate room, so I won’t scare the other clients away), but I needed to be sure that the other ingredients (non-gaseous) would not pose concern to my health. The dye doesn’t touch the scalp, so there’s no absorption, right?
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but hair dye and bleach actually do touch your scalp.
But what is to be feared is more about irritation than absorption. Numerous studies show exposure to chemicals in hair dye, such as PPD and toluene, can cause irritation (Contact Dermatitis, 2004; Contact Dermatitis, 2002). Repeated exposure to the chemicals also worsens the irritation in susceptible persons. Symptoms of irritation may include redness and scaling on the scalp.
Absorption is one of those things that cosmetic chemists (and I) think are overblown in terms of hazard level. Yes, hair dye contains chemicals, and yes, chemicals can be absorbed through your scalp into your bloodstream, but the exposure is truly minimal. Most hair dye with ammonia contains less than 0.1% ammonia by weight (patent), meaning that if you put a 4.4 ounce box of hair dye on your hair, you’re getting about 0.004 ounces of ammonia placed on your scalp. Less than a third of that will be absorbed, so you’re talking about 0.00133 ounces of ammonia. Just to give you an idea, eating a 1 ounce slice of cheese gives you about 30 times as much ammonia (0.03 ounces of) — and you’re ingesting, i.e., fully absorbing, that (source).
So I wouldn’t worry about ammonia absorption from hair dye. Honestly. Truly. Anyone who tells you otherwise is probably trying to sell you something ammonia-free, or took advice from someone who sells something ammonia-free.