Skin looking meh?
When you look in the mirror, do you think to yourself that your skin looks dull, dingy, and splotchy? The dullness is generally caused by the buildup of dead skin cells that mute the skin’s natural glow. The splotchy, depending on the tone, can have multiple causes. Red splotches can be caused by external skin irritants and inflammation, such as dryness, allergies or breakouts, as well as internal factors such as alcohol consumption. They can also be caused by skin disorders that must be diagnosed by a doctor, such as rosacia. Uneven skin tone in the form of dark spots can be caused by excess melanin production triggered by sun exposure, hormones, or acne scarring. Dark spots are often a sign of early aging and are, by far, more difficult to remove than wrinkles.
Dead skin cells must be sloughed off to treat dullness. Skins natural shedding process needs an exfoliation boost when the dead cells get caught on the skin or buildup in pores. Various types of exfoliators, from physical scrubs to chemical peels, are available. A scrub consists of granules (sugar, salt, crushed walnut shells) in a creamy base that is rubbed on skin then rinsed off. These should only be used once or twice a week. Chemical exfoliators such as astringents, use a chemical reaction to strip the cells off. The reaction can be caused by a lab produced chemical such as cosmetics grade alcohol or naturally occurring fruit sugar acids. Witch hazel, citrus fruits, toners (Clinique Clarifying Lotion) and serums (Estee Lauder Idealist Pore Minimizing Skin Refinisher) are exfoliators that can be used daily.
Florid skin can indicate irritation such as extreme dryness, environmental sensitivities or general inflammation. Products that soothe the skin frequently contain Aloe, Licorice root extract, or Hyaluronic Acid. Irritated skin cannot perform its natural repair processes, such as collagen production, as well as calm skin, so redness is a precursor to aging. Serums, masks and moisturizes can help to assuage irritation, but it is important to clarify the cause of inflammation. Dryness can be addressed with a mild facial cleanser (indulgent: LaMer Micellar Water, budget: Cetaphil) hydrating serum (cult following: Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair) and moisturizer (Clinique Moisture Surge).
Excessive sun exposure, hormones and acne scarring are the three leading causes of increased melanin production in the skin. Skin produces melanin as a protective measure when exposed to sunlight producing a tan which will then fade when no longer exposed. Overtime, the skin cells stop functioning as efficiently and cannot disperse the melanocytes as quickly. Although the dark spots may not show until later in life, the damage is already there. Anyone that has had a skin picture taken at a makeup counter can tell you how much damage lurks beneath the surface! The best remedies attempt to treat the skin damage that you don’t see as well as what you can see. Very important to wear sunscreen to avoid further damage. Melasma- the mask of pregnancy- develops when pregnancy hormones trigger melanin production. Because the trigger is internal, it is more difficult to address, but not impossible. Again wear sunscreen to avoid further damage. Acne scarring predominantly affects deeper skintones. As the pimples heal, the dead damaged skin is trapped within the pore, melanin is produced because the skin is stressed and dark spots emerge. These are the most likely to fade on their own, but they can linger for extensive periods especially when breakouts recur frequently. Again, sunscreen should be used to prevent further damage.
Products that disperse the melanin in the skin can lighten dark spots over time. They can take years to develop and years to disperse. If you don’t USE SUNSCREEN while treating and after treating dark spots, they will come back. Common ingredients in dark spot serums include Mulberry, Turmeric and Licorice root extract. Mulberry and turmeric are both in Clinique Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Remover.
Kroger Brightening Mask
Kroger, a large supermarket chain, carries products as diverse as soda and diapers, under its own name. Now it also carries its own line of face masks. I tried the Brighetening sheet mask in an individual packet which claims to illuminate and awaken skin. The sheet mask is typical in appearance, a folded up cloth with holes for the eyes, nose and mouth. It felt cool and refreshing on the face. After 15–20 minutes, I removed it and examined my skin. Overall my skin appeared brighter and fresher. The mask includes pineapple extract and licorice root extract. The pineapple extract contains vitamin C and an enzyme called bromelain, which acts as an exfoliant and anti-inflamatory, giving skin an instant glow and reduced redness. The licorice root extract has three important enzymes- glycyrrhizin which is an anti-inflammatory, glabid glabridin which inhibits pigmentation and liquiritin which disperses melanin.
The Kroger brightening mask does give skin a brighter, fresher glow. One use will not reduce dark spots, but it could support a regular skincare regimen that addresses these concerns. For $1.50 per mask, it is definitely worth a try.