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When speckles go beyond freckles, brightening treatments will restore an even skin tone. Sun spots develop due to a combination of genetic tendency and environmental exposure, and best results require a synergistic approach of topical active ingredients. Dermatologist Dr. Noëlle Sherber addresses causes of hyperpigmentation, from sun spots to melasma, with customized combinations of skincare and in-office procedures, and here shares tips along with some of our favorite products to treat uneven skin tone and to maintain your results over time as you enjoy fun in the sun.
SkinMedica Lytera 2.0
While new brightening products launch frequently, it's rare that one has solid science to back it up. Lytera 2.0 is a state of the art brightening serum that demonstrated improvement in dark spots and uneven pigmentation as soon as 2 weeks in clinical studies, with benefits becoming more dramatic at 12 weeks. It features tranexamic acid, a non-hydroquinone non-retinoid active ingredient that has been garnering global interest as a topical brightener after improvement was noted in patients who received it systemically to stop bleeding due to surgery or trauma. This formula combines it with phytic acid and niacinamide for a synergistic pigment lightening effect, and has the added advantage of incorporating ingredients that are considered to be in pregnancy-safe teratogenicity categories so this is a good option for those looking for a treatment option for melasma or sun spots while pregnant. Dr. Sherber is glad that this has now launched: "Tranexamic acid has been appearing in the dermatologic literature in recent years, and I have been waiting for a clinically-proven and gentle formulation to be available in the U.S. so that I can now add it to my customized brightening regimens for patients." Lytera was tested with twice-daily full face application and we recommend this for best results, in combination with broad spectrum sun protection, although this can also be applied in combination with other skin brighteners once your skin acclimates to your regimen.
Tranexamic acid has been appearing in the dermatologic literature in recent years, and I have been waiting for a clinically-proven and gentle formulation to be available in the U.S. so that I can now add it to my customized brightening regimens for patients.
Elure Advanced Brightening Lotion
Elure's standout product is their Advanced Brightening Lotion, which has, in additional to performing strongly in clinical studies, won numerous awards from Allure, InStyle, Essence, and other national publications for its dramatic results and gentle hydroquinone-free formulation. The active ingredient, lignin peroxidase which they term "Melanozyme," is derived from tree bark, and breaks up uneven pigmentation gently within a few weeks. In a 28-day study, 82% of the subjects demonstrated a significant decrease in their melanin index, and 91% of the subjects showed an overall improvement in pigmentation and skin tone. Dr. Sherber advises, "I often recommends this as an adjunct to laser treatments targeting unwanted pigmentation, or sometimes as a companion product to prescription pigment lightening creams because it is so gentle: when skin is prone to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation it's critically important not to inflame the skin and because this isn't an acidic product it is exceptionally mild."
Caudalie Vinoperfect Radiance Serum
This serum is Caudalie's most popular product internationally for good reason. In a study Caudalie conducted of 60 patients over 3 months, dark spot intensity improved by 83%. Its alcohol-free antioxidant-rich blend is powerfully soothing, making it an ideal addition to a brightening regimen to prevent irritation and possible inflammation. Dr. Sherber explains, "skin that is prone to dark spot formation is often prone to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, so I like my patients to use anti-inflammatory topical treatments consistently to counteract any possible irritant effect of other active treatments we pursue, from topical exfoliants and brighteners to in-office peels and lasers, to ensure consistent improvement. This French beauty secret not only really works, but it is a joy to apply." Sometimes we advise mixing this serum into Elure or Lytera for a super-serum cocktail.
This French beauty secret not only really works, but it is a joy to apply.
Natura Bissé Glyco Extreme Peel
This is the only at-home peel that Dr. Sherber has found to deliver results that are close to those of an in-office peel. The formulation blends 5 alpha hydroxy acids, a beta hydroxy acid for synergistic effect, and a proprietary peptide that ensures even depth of delivery. Glycolic acid has been proven with skin biopsy studies to stimulate collagen production, making it a gold standard anti-aging ingredient, and it also works to break up clumps of uneven pigmentation. It allows all other skincare products to absorb more deeply by dissolving the dead skin cells on the skin's surface, which is one reason why regular exfoliation is key to a brightening regimen. This product is ideal for protecting your investment of in-office peels, but also works well on its own, and, delivers value at $10 per face treatment ($20 if treating face, neck and chest). As your skin acclimates to the potency of this product, applying in a warm shower will delivery an even more powerful treatment.
Thank You Farmer Water Sun Cream Broad Spectrum SPF50 PA+++
Absolutely essential to achieving a more even skin tone is daily application of a broad spectrum sunscreen with mineral filters. This SPF50 PA+++ sunscreen from South Korea is the most lightweight mineral-containing sunscreen that we have found, and Dr. Sherber contacted the company after reading reviews citing its featherweight finish and tenacious protection. We are one of the first to bring this product into the U.S. and have been barely able to keep it in stock. With an average of 11 steps in a Korean skincare regimen, there is intense demand for lightweight sun protection and this product delivers: a mix of mineral and chemical sunscreens makes this formula powerful, yet it manages to provide the highest degree of UVA and UVB protection with airy coverage. Dr. Sherber sourced the primary documentation submitted to the FDA for approval for U.S. sale of the product because she wanted to ensure that it wasn't too good to be true, and it has passed all the requisite tests. The mineral component of a sunscreen is important for those with hyperpigmentation because it provides physical protection, like wearing a tee-shirt, and this product avoids the common pitfall of a chalky finish no matter your skin tone.Continue reading
Shaving cream is a staple in many men's routine, and choosing one with top quality hydrating and moisturizing ingredients both ensures a close shave and prevents skin irritation. This barbershop brand originated in Manhattan and has developed an intensely loyal following due to the its cutting edge formulations. This contains hydrating glycerin and moisturizing shea butter, as well as allow to soothe. Plastic surgeon Dr. Ariel Rad shaves daily with this cream and shares this tip: "I recommend applying this product immediately after a shower. The heat, steam, and shave cream work together to has soften skin and stubble to ensure a smooth shave without razor burn."
SK-II Facial Treatment Essence
Men's skin differs from women's because it is thicker, and it has more oil production due to higher oil gland density and testosterone activation of oil production. This can mean that skin is be more prone to breakouts and shaving bumps, and that it develops shine throughout the day. SK-II's famed Treatment Essence contains 90% Pitera, which is the ingredient they found addresses these these issues, making it popular with men since it delivers rapid results with a water-light texture. Makeup artist Enrique Valentino recommends this product for post-shaving application and explains, “after shaving I gently press a few drops of the SK-II Essence into my skin, I love how this lightweight fluid instantly hydrates and soothes. It also keeps future shaving bumps at bay by increasing skin cell turnover with Pitera, SK-II’s legendary proprietary ingredient sourced from sake fermentation in Japan.”
Thank You Farmer Light Sun Essence Broad Spectrum SPF50 PA+++
Daily sunscreen is essential to skin protecting against skin cancer, and to preventing skin aging from UV exposure. A recent study demonstrated that 100% of subjects showed improvement in skin texture and pigmentation after a year of daily sunscreen use, in the absence of any other anti-aging treatments, so shielding your skin from environmental damage will make a significant impact. Dermatologist Dr. Noëlle Sherber advises,"men often find heavy sunscreen texture to be a deterrent, and so this vanishingly light fluid sunscreen is popular with my patients who want to be able to forget that they applied their SPF. I discovered this product from a South Korean company, and it's no surprise that this innovation is coming from a country in which the average skincare regimen is 11 steps, putting a premium on light textures: you can streamline and apply on its own or on top of moisturizer."
One of the quickest ways to look well-groomed is to have smooth lips, and most lip balms geared towards men (i.e. not overly glossy) are wax-based and don't confer meaningful moisture. Some also have camphor and actually worsen chapped lips and rough texture. This blend of natural oils and vitamin-rich butters conditions lips to improve smoothness, and seals in moisture in any weather conditions. True to Tom Ford's style, the packaging is designed to be stashed in a suit pocket or jeans pocket for on the go reapplication.
TOM FORD Vert D'Encens
Winner of the 2017 Fragrance Foundation Award in the Men's Luxury category, this scent is a new classic. Inspired by the coast of Corsica, known as "the perfumed isle" for its aromatic air, it is a versatile fragrance owing to its sophisticated and rugged balance which we see men appreciating in their increasingly multifacetedly lives. It blends smoky notes of incense, woody notes of pine resin and fir balsam, and fresh notes of lavender and lemon into a blend that Tom Ford describes as at once "distinguished" and "delectable." Continue reading
This duo is our favorite for creating the perfect red lip.
Verso Lip Serum plumps lips on contact by super-hydrating them. Dermatologist Dr. Noëlle Sherber added this to our edit of lip treatments because "this silky balm plumps with hyaluronic acid without relying on irritants as many other formulas do. Retinyl retinoate, a modern formulation of retinol, also stimulates collagen to build density and plush volume in the lips over time, so you get both instant and longterm results."
TOM FORD Lip Color has become an iconic formulation because its specially treated color pigments are blended to deliver pure color, and it is ultra-creamy due to a moisturizing mix of soja seed extract, Brazilian murumuru butter and Chamomilla flower oil. Our makeup artist in residence, Enrique Valentino, calls Cherry Lush "the perfect festive, and smile-brightening, shade." It is our go-to for the perfect red lip for the holidays.
Saint Barthélemy, known as St. Barths, is an eight square-mile island in the French West Indies which is difficult to reach but impossible to forget. The island, known for its uncrowded picturesque beaches and world class cuisine, is officially part of France and so has a distinctive French flair paired with a relaxed Caribbean sensibility which add up to a certain "je ne sais quoi."Continue reading