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Posts Tagged ‘Under Eye Circles’

FrecklesIts back on shelves!  Tri-luma, the turbo powered skin lightener is now available after a more than an 18 month disappearance.  There was no FDA recall or explanation from the company.  Nothing.   I discovered that compounding pharmacies could make it up for individual prescriptions, but that option  was just not widely  available.  Then,  without fanfare  or explanation,  Tri-luma  was back– and I’m delighted. 

 How Tri-luma Works

This prescription- only skin lightener  contains three active ingredients:

1.  Tretinoin ( aka Retin A) is famous for its ability to speed up cell growth and exfoliate darkened areas.

2. Hydroquinone which prevents melanin production and is considered one of the most effective  weapons in the  anti- hyperpigmentation tool  kit

3.  Mild corticosteroid to keep  things calm.  Both Retin A and  hydroquinone can be irritating.  Enter  a  mild steroid.  It allows the skin brighteners to do their job  while keeping the skin calm and comfortable

While Tri-luma can be used over the entire face, I needed it mainly  to lighten my dark under eye shadows.   Plain Retin A  is too irritating to be used on delicate under eye areas but mixed with a steroid it can  address  skin darkness without causing more  problems.

Tri-luma was one of the first anti-aging tools I used and I loved the way it lightened  my long standing  dark shadows.  However while plain RetinA can be used continuously for years, most  doctors recommend using  Tri-luma  only for three montha at a time.   The treatment period  should be followed by a three month  Tri-luma holiday and then the  product can be used again for another three months.  To keep it fresh and effective, pharmacists recommend keeping it in the refrigerator.

There is a whole buffet  of skin lighteners including kojic acid, arbutin and soy extract, but Tri-luma  is often the product of choice.   It represents the new thinking about  medical treatment.  Rather than a single  solution to a problem , researchers are looking at different targets  for treatment.  In the case of  hyperpigmentation,  some skin lighteners like retin A a can help the skin shed darkened skin cells while  while ingredients like hydroquinone  can break up existing  melanin.  Combining them in one product can be much more effective than used spearately.  Since Kojic acid seems to prevent melanin production, I would love to see a  product  that combines all four ingredients.  There are so many me-too  products, it would wonderful to see a formulation that uses all of the science  we  now have about treatmenting dark patches and spots.

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I was intrigued by a new freckle fighting cream called Elure.  There are  good clinical studies that it can lighten dark patches in 7-28 days.  Elure gets  its power from a type of naturally occuring enzyme derived from tree mushrooms.  Called legnin peroxidase, it acts by breaking down melanin  in the skin cells.  Unlike hydroquinone, this enzyme is non irritating  and shows no skin sensitivity.

We all know that excess pigmentation is linked  to sun exposure.  What is less well known is that as we get older there is an increase in dark spots and splotches due to a slowdown in the rate of cell growth. In our twenties cells turn over every 28 days.  By the 50’s, the cycle is extended to 45 days.  This means that darkened skin cells  get even darker and stay around longer.

I’ve pretty much eliminated  the dark spots on  my face and neck with lasers, IPL and a maintenance program of retinoids. But dark spots come back and I’m always looking for new  anti-freckle remedies.  To test them out I’ve identified some  pretty big freckles on my arms.  Now to be perfectly clear. I’m not really concerned  about how they look ( I’m not that vain).   But I’m glad that I still have freckles  to be part of my science project.

Elure is an unusual product in that its a two step  process.  In step one, you apply a dab of  active Melanozyme  from  one side of  the compartment in the Elure  jar.  Wait for a minute than top it with the same amount of Bio-Activator from compartment 2.   I’m going to do this both in the evening and in the morning.  In the daytime, I’ll top it with a zinc oxide sunscreen.

My before photo  shows a 1/4 inch freckle on my forearm.  I’m going to continue with the Elure treatments for up to 28 day, taking a new photograph every week.  This is going to be interesting.

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Before my Hydro-Facial at the office of aesthetic surgeon  Dr Paul  Lorenc, his technician Carissa took a series  of  before and after  photos that were brutally honest. In the first pix,  the dark spots all over most of my face were signs of sun damage below the skin.  And here’s the scary part–  according to their calculation  I had mild-minimal damage.  I’ve got to see what significant damage looks like.  Note that  my forehead is pretty clear of dark spots.  I’ve worn  full bangs for 30 years which  has apparently protected the skin from sun damage.  Imagine how good my skin would  look with a full beard.  Around my eyes  you can see dark melanin pigment on  the lids as well as under the eyes.  Now I know  what’s driving my dark circles and why they are so  resistant to treatment. 

My “after” imaging picture is interesting rather than prettier.  The whiteness shows that both the peptide serum and the antioxidant/hyaluronic mixture  have gone deep into the pores to do their work.  My eye area remained dark because the facial did not touch that area. 

 In rea ltime my skin looked firm and radiant immediately after this six step facial.  Most  good facials will do that.  But  even  two weeks after the Hydro-Facial, my skin still had a special glow.  I think that’s because  the rotating device   pushed the peptide serum and antioxidants  deeper into the skin where they could  impact on skin growth. 

The Hydro-Facial  reinforced to me the importance of clarifying the  skin’s surface.  Dark spots and splotches  rob the skin of its natural  beauty.  While we think of aging  as lines and wrinkles, hyperpigmentation  ( as doctors call it )   also give the skin a tired  dull appearance.  I’ve used Retin A, IPL, glycolic acid and now this type of dermabrasion with excellent results.  But there are other like tools like  licorice, caffeine and  azalaic acid  that  I want to try, especially for  under eye circles.   Anyone  have expereince with these  options?

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Now that I have embarked on  an  all out attack on my puffy eyes and dark circles  I charged the  Clarisonic Opal treatment disk and  per  their directions, prepared to patch tested the serum  on the inside of my arm.  But when I squeezed out a few drops, it was a sludgy amber colored  goo rather than the clear gel that I had seen  in the samples.  In addition, the container seemed practicallyempty, although I had  just opened it.  Something was wrong. 

I went back to Sephora to buy a replacement.  But when I explained the situation  to   sales associate and asked  which one  I should get, she  went to speak to her manager.  After looking at my  serum, the manager  went to a drawer and replaced the cartridge  free of charge.  I was blown away.  When was the last time a store stood behind their product like that?  I  was already a frequent flyer at Sephora.  I  like their large selection, the ease of shopping  and their policy of refunding your money  if a product  just doesn’t work  for you.  But this type of customer service  deserves a special shout-out.  I think both Sephora and Clarisonic deserves extra credit  for  taking so  much pride in their products.   It makes me even  more confident in them and comfortable about  my selections.

Back at home, my  patch  test went smoothly.  I had no problem with the serum and prepared to use it tonight under  my eyes.  Rereading the brochure, I saw that I was to avoid the soft tissue directly under the eye and focus on the skin around the occipital bone.  This means  that I can’t treat the dark circles as well as the lower pouch areas, but I will take what I can get.

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1.  Can I use Tri-luma on  my chest?

In theory, yes but its not going to be that effective.  A chest with lots of freckles and age spots will need more help than Tri-lima can  provide.  Once areas of hyperpigmentation become raised and lumpy, you’re going to need some kind of  laser or IPL to deal with them. 

2. Can I use Tri-luma and Retin A together ? 

It  depends. Tri-luma already contains Retin A to increase cell turnover, hydroquinone to break down  and discourage pigment formation and a steroid to keep down inflammation.  If you are using Tri-luma  under  your eyes, you can  then apply Retin  A to the other facial areas.  If you have areas of discoloration on your cheeks and forehead, you can use Tri-luma on these areas, but not at the same time you are  using Retin A. It won’t do a  better  job and will  make you skin terribly irritated.

3. Can Tri-luma make your skin worse?

Sad but true.  For some  skin types, Tri-luma  may cause irritation that will actually trigger pigment  formation.  Women of color are especially at risk ( including Hispanic, Asian, Indian and African American skin) and may show a darkening of the areas treated with Tri-luma.  This is why you need to be under the supervision of  dermtologist when using Tri-luma to spot signs of  trouble before they can develop into new  dark patches.  

4. How long can I use  Tri-luma?

Unlike  Retin A which can be used for years, Tri-luma cannot be used for more than 3 consecutive months.  Then you need to take a “Tri-luma holiday” for the next three months before using it again. 

5. Should I put an eye cream over Tri-luma?

After you put Tri-luma under  your eyes at night you can top it with a  little dab of  a very mild formulation to  lessen irritation. Look for an eye cream without alpha hydroxy acids, vitamin C and retinols– all good ingredients,  but  they can be too irritating when using Tri-luma.  During the day, you don’t use Tri-luma, but you should use an eye cream with a sunscreen  to protect the skin from UV damage.

All these does and don’t   kind of  take the fun out  anti-aging, but Tri-luma is  not  as easy to use as Retin A.  It can  deliever some very nice results, but  its a high maintenance remedy.  It did a great job  on my dark blue/grey under eye shadows, but   they crept back when I had to go on  my  Tri-luma hiatus.  I’m glad to  be using it again, and I see  results after only a week. Let me know if you have additional Triluma issues.

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Looking  at my facial imaging photos  ( posted on Oct 8), I saw that that there were two  dark patches under my eyes–  also known as  under eye shadows.  It showed that this was not from indentation creating dark hollows, but true accumulations of sun damage and melanin.  That’s the bad news.  The good news?  This  is the job that Tri-luma was  born to handle.

I had  used Tri-luma last  spring and was pleased with the results, but  this triple powered crem cannot be used indefinately, so I had stopped using it for several months.  I also realized that dealing with  hyperpigmentation under the eyes is not a short term problem.  The cells which produced so much melanin have a very long memory.  They are born to make melanin and given  the right circulstances  — sun exposure and stress– the cells again fill up with  dark pigment.   

But this time, I have another tool.  I am  going to start using Tri-luma  again– first every other night, then slowly move up to every night.  I will use  this first facial imaging photo as a baseline and   over the next three months with Tri-luma, take  additional photos to see if the darkened areas have lightened.  I am so tempted to use Tri-luma under the right  eye and a non-prescription eye brightener under the left eye, but I think that sounds too much like a high school science project.

In my last go around with Tri-luma, I thought that I had seen real improvement and  the standard photos seemed to  show a  lighter, tighter area.  But these  are subjective impressions and I couldn’t say that there had really been a clinical improvement.  In other words, facial imaging will show if the under eye areas are truly lightened, or I am just delusional.

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This photo  shows the areas of sun damage via  theCanfield Imaging System. ( And I’m so glad that this is not a dating site).  On the left is a standard  photo and my skin looks fairly even in color.  On the right its a different story.  The brown spots are areas of hyperpigmentation– too much melanin from sun exposure.  What I find really interesting  are the light areas under the nose and around the eyebrows which are areas  where there is loss of pigmentation  Apparently UV rays can destroy cells ability to make any pigment.  Its not really visable to the naked eye, but it causes the skin to look dull and tired.  I was amused that the special cameras picked up the loss of pigment  areound the hair line– otherwise known as grey hair.

Next step will be to try out different remedies and then retake the facial imaging.  I asm really psyched to try out another three months with Tri-luma for under eye circles.  I also will be using my new  turbo powered Retin A  which according to research should be effective on these damaged areas. Sun-damaged areas are not only a cosmetic problem– they can also develop into skin cancers.  Getting rid of them is actually good preventive medicine. 

This imaging system is available  with dermatologists and spas  across the US.  If you want to try it out, send me your zip code, and I will find the nearest one to you.  And no, you don’t have to post the not terribly flattering photo.

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