The Muse: Plantioxidants Yuzu & Sake Facial Cleanser ($55)
(Photo via moi)
Summer concern: Hyper-Pigmentation
One of the main concerns of summertime skincare is the photo-damage that comes along with increased sun exposure. Higher temps, warmer days, and more frequent outdoor activities expose us to UV-rays and the risk of developing freckles and dark spots. There is no alternative to wearing SPF-protection (and maybe even a sunhat or SPF-protective swimwear) to keep the sun's damage to a minimum, but even when you take precautions, unwanted pigment can still pop up.
Hyper-pigmentation refers to any excess darkening created by melanin in the skin. UV-rays stimulate our melanocytes, which produce the bronze-hued darkener, melanin. While this same process creates your tan, your genetic makeup might mean it also leads to unwanted spots. (I get them unfailingly on the bridge of my nose and my cheekbones — two areas that protrude no matter what.)
Lingering acne scars, particularly from cystic breakouts, also tend to overstay their welcome, making unwanted appearances long into the future on our otherwise clear complexions. They are the absolute bane of my existence! And yes, sun exposure can hinder their healing and make them more visible.
Plus, you've most likely heard of the perils of melasma. This hormonally-triggered condition can pop up during pregnancy, resulting in darkened patches on the skin, which can be made worse by sun exposure. This is not the same as hyper-pigmentation, but it is still the result of uninhibited pigment wreaking havoc on the skin. Jenna Dewan Tatum suffered from it after giving childbirth, and it only resolved after receiving a laser treatment.
While you can receive treatments like peels, IPL, and even scar removals to get rid of unwanted marks on the skin (or you can hop in an LED therapy bed to help reverse some of the effects of sun damage) there are also over-the-counter options to consider to fortify your regimen and improve your skin tone.
The industry's leading "un-safe" skin-bleaching agent is an ingredient called Hydroquinone, which is surrounded by controversy and even banned in South Africa (or it was — I must double-check). In large doses, it's a carcinogen (i.e. cancer-causing) and has been found to increase the photosensitivity of the skin over time. I avoid it simply because my health is super sensitive and I want to clean up my regimen, but many swear by the industry-leading skin lightener. As Dr. Schultz of BeautyRX recently reminded me, it is strictly forbidden for pregnant women.
Note: If you are pregnant or nursing, retinol, hydroquinone, and some say salicylic acid are off-limits. Dr. Schultz assured me that Glycolic acid is safe, however, and recommends his Beauty RX Progressive Peel System ($98) for expecting and nursing moms. The best retinol alternative in the industry is considered to be the cult-favorite Pai Bioregenerate Rosehip Oil ($40), which I just bought for a family-friend-slash-new-mom to try!
(1) Exfoliants: Products that exfoliate and stimulate cellular turnover — like retinol and exfoliating acids found in peels — are particularly helpful for lessening the appearance of hyper-pigmentation over time. However, depending on the acid used, they can also be photo-sensitizing, meaning they can render your skin more susceptible to photo-damage in the summer season.
(2) Vitamin C: Powerful antioxidants, particularly brightening vitamin C, can also play a role in minimizing the appearance of hyper-pigmentation. My holy grail vitamin C serum is Sunday Riley C.E.O. ($85). I personally notice that the glow you get doesn't just help treat the dark spots, it distracts you from them with overall luminosity. However, there's new-comer in the world of vitamin C that the market is just starting to pick up. Namely, a Japanese superfruit that is absolutely jam-packed with vitamin C called Yuzu, which I'll describe in more depth below.
(3) Sake: Yep! The beloved beverage we enjoy with our sushi also works wonders for the skin. I interviewed NYC plastic surgeon Dr. Doft on its effects, and she confirmed that it brightens, evens, and exfoliates. Thanks to an ingredient called Kojic Acid (which is a by-product of the fermentation process), it brightens up the skin like no other. I swore off using all SK-II products because they are not cruelty-free, but I'll be honest — the sake-powered line is pretty phenomenal. That's why I was extra excited about the ingredient lineup in Plantioxidants.
(Photo via moi)
The Clean, Green Game-Changer
When the rep for a 100% clean, green, and "beyond organic" (how I refer to lines that feature minimal waste and/or wild-sourced ingredients) skincare company, Plantioxidants, first reached out to me, I was smitten with the name. In case you can't tell, they specialize in botanically-powered actives for the skin featuring plant-sourced antioxidants.
Antioxidants are essential in any anti-aging regimen, to fend off free radical damage and slow the process of cellular aging (i.e. cellular oxidation) in the skin. Whatever serum you use, if any, should include a mega-dose of antioxidants. Considering their effects on the skin, they are also amazing for your health, which is why I always made a point of eating tons of fresh berries every morning in my naturopath-designed smoothie. (That's for another post.)
As an official skincare nerd, I get really excited about certain ingredients... and I fell hard for Plantioxidants Yuzu & Sake Facial Cleanser ($55). Here's why.
I'm excited about this cleanser because it contains some of the industry's most-coveted brightening ingredients in a totally non-toxic formulation. It also stimulates cellular turnover, coupling the evening effect of the formula with a swifter resurfacing process. It contains ingredients you can actually pronounce, recognize, and rely on to deliver their promised benefits. In other words, you won't find any preservatives like Urea playing the dual role of skincare and a super-long shelf-life; this baby lasts 6 months upon opening.
I cannot wait to try this cleanser because it is the perfect cleanser for summer, particularly for someone looking for a little extra action against selfie-ruining hyper-pigmentation. They also recommend their award-winning serum — Plantioxidants Chaga & Ginseng Serum ($110) — as a reparative soldier against stray pigment, but I haven't studied up on it yet and will have to keep you posted!
P.S. Another cleanser I was considering using this summer is Joanna Vargas Vitamin C Face Wash ($40), but I am so excited about Plantioxidants that I am moving it up on my product rotation...
How do you handle hyper-pigmentation in the summer? Tell me on Instagram!
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