As women of the 2010s, we are now well aware of the perils of overexposure to the sun: aging, sunspots, other long-term damage. If you're a teen from the 90s, like myself, you may have spent summers basking in baby oil to maximize them tan-lines. No más! Gone are those days (and, may I add, thank goodness - just in the nick of time to reverse damage done and start to instill good habits moving forward).
Since college, I have been testing and refining my skincare product set. Overtime, skin challenges evolved from the stress-related/hormonal breakout to, now, discoloration and wrinkle prevention. Luckily, technological development in the skincare industry speedily evolves. I am particularly grateful for this, as in the past 5 years I've learned that my olive skin's predisposition and some past hormonally driven event made me one of the lucky gals battling the ever-persistent skin condition known as melasma.
(If you're unfamiliar, melasma is a discoloration of the skin generally induced/driven by a hormonal change, whether pregnancy, birth control or other life event. While not life threatening, this pesky skin condition is one of the most challenging to reverse. It is self-limiting, however, exacerbated by a number of outside factors, including sun exposure, heat, alcohol and caffeine. I'll add general stress to the list, from my own experience.)
My experience with melasma has been incredibly frustrating. However, I do think the silver lining for me has been assuming an extremely mindful skincare regimen and general awareness that will (hopefully!) help protect my skin long term in general. At the top of this list are general aging, wrinkles, other discoloration and general change we'd LOVE to prevent as we journey through our 30s.
After years of experimentation, testing and research, I've finally struck a product set that not only has helped me limit the impact of the conditions I personally battle, but it has also has given me the great privilege of regular compliments on my skin (resulting in many a referral to my skin guru, Shari Spakes). Below is my toolkit.
1. Revitalize through regular exfoliation to slough old, dull skin cells is key to put our best dermis forward.
- Regenerate with Jan Marini's Bioglycolic Lotion and a retinoid, if your skin can tolerate it (I like Tazorac cream, which I use every other night)
- Lighten and brighten with SkinMedica's Lytera Complex
- Replenish Vitamin C and other antioxidants with Jan Marini's C-Esta Serum
2. Protect with a broad spectrum sunblock with minimum SPF 30 - a non-negotiable to mitigate the appearance of aging and other long-term effects.
- Shield your skin from the sun with SPF 45 from Jan Marini, PCA or another favorite skincare line
- Create a physical block with Skin Calming Primer from Colorscience (also broad spectrum with SPF 20) - also a great foundation for your makeup routine
- Reinforce protection during long days outdoors or during physical activity with Sunforgettable Mineral Sunscreen (SPF 50), also from Colorscience, and Rubber Ducky Sunscreen SPF 50 (I love this one for long runs)
3. Invest in your skin's long term health by assuming regular good habits.
- Nourish from the inside by drinking plenty of water and monitoring caffeine and alcohol, both substances with the potential to stress and dehydrate the skin (and, in my experience, exacerbate melasma)
- Take your regimen to the pro level with regular facials and other treatments you find work for you; SkinMedica's Clear + Brilliant Laser has really helped reinforce my other efforts (while pricy, I consider it a long term investment)
- Understand what your system's triggers are - hours-long exposure to heat, for instance, has an inflammatory impact on my skin; we're all different - listen to your body!