I’ve been intending to write about this subject for a while, but finding the time to organize my thought process and to pen (or type) it all down has been challenging. But after a recent chat with someone at an event, or close encounter of the nosy kind, I decided to just sit down and pour my thoughts out here, just so I have a point of reference that I can point people to when I am asked certain inevitable questions.
One of the most common questions I’m asked is “Have you considered laser treatment for your skin?” This is usually in relation to residual acne scars I have and primarily, my hyperpigmentation on my cheeks.
I often find people’s eyes wandering over to the spots on my cheeks where I have hyperpigmentation or also commonly referred to as “pigmentation”. This is more so when I am speaking to people who are in the aesthetics business. I acknowledge that it is a skin problem I have.
But what puzzles many people is this – As a fairly known and somewhat successful beauty blogger, should I not want to take steps or undergo treatments that will reduce or remove this obvious problem? Might this not make me a more “credible” beauty blogger? After all, the general aesthetic for bloggers is clear, glowing, flawless, poreless skin with zero imperfections.
Let me guess – you have thought the same whenever you look at some of my more close-up or bare skin before-after photos 🙂 Don’t worry, I’m used to it 🙂 This is what I have to say.
Yes, I have a pigmentation/hyperpigmentation problem
I don’t hide the fact that I have a pigmentation spot problem. You will see it in my photos and even in real life, I don’t pile on the concealer or foundation to cover it up and fake a flawless complexion. Well, not anymore.
I used to, once. I would pile on the makeup, because I felt self-conscious. I felt that if I was putting myself out there as an authority on beauty (in my head really LOL!) I should look flawless.
But as time went on, I realised that I am quite representative of many women that I see on the streets here in Malaysia. Many of us of Asian descent, who live here in South-East Asia, have a problem with uneven skin tone, freckles, sun-spots and hyperpigmentation. It is, not to put too fine a point on it, genetics.
So, when someone points out to me that I have a pigmentation problem, and asks me to do something about it e.g. use a whitening skincare product, a spot treatment or to undergo laser treatments, they are pointing out something I already know and am aware of.
But more important, it is something I have come to terms with.
It’s not to say that I have not toyed with the idea of undergoing treatments. I have, but I have also balked at the idea for reasons that I will share with you below.
PLEASE NOTE: This is MY approach to my skin. I have absolutely nothing against anyone seeking treatment for their skin concerns. I’d just like to share why I no longer intend to take certain routes nor undergo certain treatments nor use certain products. Perhaps it will resonate with you. Perhaps it won’t and you think me a fool. Either way, please do as you see fit for yourself and to keep yourself happy.
Pigmentation or hyperpigmentation can be due to genetics
I have spoken to many doctors in my time, who have at one point or another, offered to treat my pigmentation problem. But I always have one question for them – what about genetics?
Could my genes or genetic makeup make my skin pre-disposed to developing these pigmentation spots or perhaps melasma? The reluctant answer is always a “Yes”.
There are members of my extended family who do have problems with melasma and hyperpigmentation. Some of them have clear skin to their old age. Some of them don’t. There is therefore every chance that I would inherit the pigmentation gene, which might explain why my skin is so.
A handful of doctors have also explained to me that my form of hyperpigmentation has a name – interesting! It’s known as ‘hori’s nevus’.
Hori’s Nevus pigmentation
I’m no doctor, so please feel free to read up on it at your leisure. You can start here and this is a summary of what it is:
Hori’s naevus presents as benign (harmless) blue-grey to gray-brown patchy and spotty pigmentation on the prominence of the cheeks. The condition usually appears in adulthood. It is most common in middle-aged Asian women.The Australasian College of Dermatologists
This is basically what I have and how it develops is attributed to genetics and hormones. Note that both these causes are hard, if not impossible to control.
It is also a condition that tends to manifest itself in Asian women, when you hit your mid-30’s or upwards. This was explained to me by a doctor and coincided with my noticing a slight escalation of the appearance of these pigmentation spots once I approached my 40’s. Again, I cannot help growing older 😛
It isn’t to say that every middle-aged Asian woman will get this condition. Some never do. Some get it earlier in life. This, as explained to me was down to genetics and hormones, and you just never know if you have that pre-disposition to hori’s nevus.
Unlike sunspots or freckles that are caused by sun or UV exposure, and can therefore be avoided by staying out of the sun and applying copious amounts of sunscreen, genes and hormones will dictate that I will still have a predisposed tendency to develop this uneven pigmentation. This is also why I say that sunscreen can only do so much to protect your skin against dark spots.
With this knowledge, what I was given to understand therefore is that any treatment I undergo may offer temporary positive effects, but there is every chance that it will return over time, unless regular ‘maintenance’ is performed.
Other causes of pigmentation or dark spots
Aside from the unavoidable, there are other triggers that can cause these dark spots to form, or in some cases, make them look worse.
Sun and UV rays and heat
It is a proven fact that exposure to the sun and UV rays without any form of protection damages the skin. If it does not manifest itself immediately, it may appear in later life in the form of dark spots. Sunscreen or some form of sun protection is therefore essential for daily use.
The other problem which is hard to avoid where we live near the Equator, is heat. Heat is now known to also cause dark spots to form, or to make it worse. So, cooling your skin down when it gets hot helps reduce the appearance of these dark spots.
Even if there is no sun, UV rays are ever present, and it is the UV-A rays that damage skin and cause it to age, while UV-B cause our skin to darken. Sunscreen therefore does not only prevent dark spots, but also helps slow your skin from aging. Instead of treating skin after all the damage has happened, prevent it with daily sunscreen use.
If stress does not kill you, it’ll just make you look worse than you really do 😛 Stress will put the lines on your face and make your skin look dull and in some cases, if you have dark spots, make it look worse.
I believe it is a combination of many factors, primarily the dulling of your skin tone, that makes this happen. A dull skin tone reflects less light, gives of less “glow” and therefore makes any imperfections look worse.
When my skin is dehydrated, the first thing I notice is a duller skintone, and my dark spots look darker. When my skin is well hydrated, and therefore more plumped, they look lighter.
My dark spots are therefore a good indicator of my skin’s hydration levels LOL! Not recommended as a check, but do note that if you have dark spots and it looks worse than you think it should, try upping the hydration in your skincare routine and see if it helps.
Poor sleep quality or bad nights
This does not only reflect itself in dull, tired skin, it also messes with any dark spots you may already have. When I don’t sleep well, it shows on my skin.
In many of the instances above, we can avoid the cause, and therefore alleviate the problem, without undergoing expensive treatments. But what are the treatments out there?
Treating dark spots or hyperpigmentation – What I know
Please note that I am not medically trained and therefore can only share what I know based on what I have been told by doctors. I recommend doing your own research but perhaps I can offer a jump off point.
From what I understand, treatments vary depending on the cause of your dark spots. If it is something on the surface, then that is easily treated. If lasers aren’t an option, then topical products (medical grade) can help lighten the dark spots, exfoliate the skin and allow new, clear skin to regenerate. This could be in the form of skin peels, RF or medical facials, hydroquinone etc
For many people, if you catch it when it first forms, it’s naturally easier, quicker and more inexpensive to treat. This is especially so if it is a surface pigmentation spot.
However, if your problem is at the dermis level i.e. in layman speak “Deep inside your skin”, then topical creams or medication will not work. It does not penetrate deeply enough.
I realised this quite a few years ago, when I used to use whitening, or what is now often called brightening, skincare products. They brightened my skin, but never really got rid of my dark spots. I’d even been prescribed hydroquinone by a doctor (it’s a poison and should only be used under doctor’s advise and supervision), and it honestly did nothing for me at all. Since then, for many years, I no longer use any whitening or brightening skincare product ranges and I have explained why too.
So, seeing as my ‘problem’ is ‘deep inside my skin’ and using topical skincare products don’t help, what can I do?
The answer: Laser treatments.
Do note also that if your dark spots are at surface level, lasers are also very effective and you only likely need one or two treatments to get rid of the problem for good.
I however, did not have that luxury.
Laser Skin Treatments – My thoughts
Last year, I was in a bit of a rough place, and my thoughts turned to trying laser skin treatments. Could it give me that much coveted clear, glowing skin?
I went and consulted a couple of clinics. I even received a few offers for them to “try to get rid of the problem”. The exchange of course, was for me to talk about it. Good deal wot?
However, I was realistic.
You see, I spoke to a few doctors and their recommendation was Q-Switched laser. I also spoke to a clinic that used the newer pico laser. These lasers are apparently quite successful at removing at least 70% of the hori’s nevus pigmentation. Basically, it would not be discernible on the skin on visual inspection, so I’d basically have clear skin.
There was a snag.
Because my problem lies at the dermis layer of the skin, the laser must penetrate deep to break up the pigmentation clusters. In not so many words, it had to be zapped to the point of bleeding. Once the skin heals, the new skin would be clear. There would be down-time, possible swelling, redness and maybe peeling. I wouldn’t know if I might have a negative reaction to such strong treatment.
This was not your “Let’s pop in for a quick laser zap at lunch” treatment. I was required to be dedicated and to understand and accept that I would have down time for my skin to heal. And this was something I had to do every week or so. I’d also have to use some prescription skincare alongside, and stay out of the sun.
If I accepted that, I could have practically brand new skin in 10 sessions. If I wanted something more gentle, without too much downtime, perhaps 20 sessions. It was about a 6 month project. If I was realistic I’d expect about 70% lightening of spots. If I was even more realistic, there was every chance I’d get them again.
Needless to say, I was quite stunned.
It was my first time talking about this to trained professionals, and I have to admit that it shocked me. Both the treatment and how long I’d need.
The next question was of course the cost.
Can you afford laser treatment?
If your problem is at surface level, you could be done in 1-2 sessions and it might set you back anything from RM600-RM1000 depending on the type of laser treatment you undergo.
If that had been my quotation, I might have said “To hell with it, why not? Let’s do it!”
But mine was about 20 times that. I was looking at approximately RM20,000 worth of laser treatments. Enough for a downpayment for a house, or a car. Enough for a luxury holiday around the world. This was aside from the cost of the clinic-formulated skincare that they recommend you use alongside.
I’ll be honest. The offer of sponsorship was on the table for the laser treatments, and I only had to accept and by now, I’d probably be sporting brand new, clear skin.
But I didn’t take it up, and I decided then and there that I couldn’t do it.
First, I did not want for anyone to think that you need to spend that kind on money on your skin. I have nothing against anyone who does, and in fact, I’d say it’s more power to you! 🙂 But it wasn’t something I wanted to do. If I couldn’t bring myself to write a cheque for that course of treatment, could I tell someone else to do it if it meant I’d get it “free of charge”? I couldn’t and really, it’s not because I stand on moral high ground, it’s simply because I just think it is an insane amount of money to spend at one go, for vanity sake.
Second, I couldn’t, because I realised that I could find at least 10 other things that I’d rather spend the money on. I love skincare and I love taking care of my skin, but I am very realistic.
I don’t come from money, and I am not by any means, rich. I have worked hard to be where I am. I am comfortable, I can splurge on some frivolities, and I get by comfortably. I am pretty much your regular middle-class woman on the street, and that woman can find any number of things she’d rather spend RM20,000 on.
Third, I’d have to maintain this new skin with regular laser treatments every few months. This could cost anything from RM600-1200. Could I spare this every few months? Perhaps I could.
Could I find something else to spend this money on instead? Oh yes I could! I am working towards being debt-free so I’d much rather pay the money towards my housing loan/mortgage, or towards a plane ticket for a holiday, or towards a short holiday instead.
Realistically, the cost of the laser treatment and the cost of maintenance put me off.
Now, recently, I met someone who told me that this cost I was quoted was far too high, and that they could get it done for about half the total cost I was quoted. Aside from removing the dark spots, I’d also benefit from more even toned, clearer, more flawless, poreless skin.
Did that sway me? Did I pause for a moment to think about it?
Yes I did. Who wouldn’t? 😛
And that’s why I decided to sit here and write this piece. Because I won’t take it up, and I’ve put to rest all thoughts of undergoing laser treatments for my skin.
Can you live with it?
This is the reality. If you aren’t going to undergo treatments to remove your skin problem or alleviate it, then can you live with it?
When I sat down and thought long and hard about it, my answer was “Yes, I can”. I have lived with it for 20 years. I can continue to live with it.
The thing is, it isn’t disfiguring, nor does it impair me physically. It isn’t a medical condition that needs treating urgently. What it comes down to, at the end of the day, and to put it bluntly, is vanity.
Am I vain enough to spend RM10,000 or RM20,000 at one go, to achieve clearer skin? I’d still need to invest in skincare thereafter so that cost is a given as I already will spend on skincare. It isn’t as if I can undergo laser and then forget about using proper skincare thereafter.
And my answer, as I have explained above, is “No, I’m not”.
That is not to say however, that I discourage anyone from undergoing laser treatments. I have absolutely nothing against it, and if the situation was different and the cost lower, I would likely have undergone the treatment. Being a hardcore blogger, I’d have blogged about it too.
As it stands however, my position is that I won’t be undergoing laser treatment for my pigmentation problem at this time. If I strike the lottery, talk to me again then. LOL! 😀
Prevention from getting worse
From personal experience, I’ve found that there are ways that I can prevent, or maybe alleviate the problem.
The first is by using sunscreen. Be sure to use enough, and to use it daily. In my case, at least I am assured that I will not develop new sun spots on top of my existing pigmentation spots, and of course, it helps to prevent my skin from being damaged and aging prematurely.
The second is using Vitamin C serums. Ever since I discovered how beneficial vitamin C serums are for my skin, I am never without. I use them practically every morning, and from anecdotal experience, it helps my skin look more even toned, clearer and brighter. It also makes my skin feel stronger and more supple.
The third is to start including other active ingredients like retinol or glycolic or lactic acid. It helps exfoliate my skin and to strengthen it. Over time, I have noticed that while my pigmentation spots are still there, I can slow the appearance of new spots. Alongside, I of course, slow down my skin’s aging process so it’s really a win-win for all! 🙂
Naturally, I try to keep my skin hydrated, to get better quality sleep, to eat more balanced meals, and to reduce stress. If I can’t get rid of the problem, I can stop it from getting worse 🙂
These are of course, as you note, topical applications. We have established that my form of pigmentation lies deep within the skin and topical treatments won’t help lighten it. So yes, I will have to live with it. But I can also have something else – healthier skin.
What about other forms of medical-grade treatment for firmer skin, fewer lines etc? Well, this isn’t about that. This is purely about treatments for my pigmentation spots. I will never say no at this point in time, if it is superficial. I balk at anything invasive (including injectables) but I otherwise keep an open mind for other forms of treatment.
My skincare focus – healthy skin
This is where I am now.
I know some people may wonder why I talk so much about skincare or display such an interest, but I don’t have clear, flawless skin. This is why. I just cannot help the skin I have! LOL! 😀
Does it make me less credible? I don’t know, you’ll have to decide for yourself. If it bothers you then that’s fine. I never claim to be an authority on skincare and I’m a work-in-progress, not perfect. So feel free to click away.
But my focus now is on healthy skin. I may have pigmentation spots, but overall, I’ve been told that my skin is otherwise healthy. I try to keep it hydrated, and I’m happy when it feels smooth and supple. I’m happy when my skin does not look sallow and dull. I am happy when I look in the mirror and see relatively clear, bright skin. I am happy when I don’t really experience breakouts anymore. (This last I think is also to do with lifestyle and perhaps hormones).
Ultimately, how you treat your skin is really your decision, and yours alone. Don’t let society or peer pressure force you into doing something just to fulfill society’s perception of what should be normal or beautiful.
Don’t let the clear skin of bloggers, beauty gurus or influencers, that you see on Instagram or Youtube force you to believe that clear, even toned, poreless skin is normal. This newest trend of “glass skin” can be frustrating for many to achieve. It isn’t only done with skincare products, I can assure you of that.
Remember that there are many factors are play, chief among them, genetics. Do not discount also lighting, angles and photo-editing. Many people don’t tell you about the treatments they undergo so do be careful with what you see online.
If you are in a place that allows you to splurge on laser treatments to achieve this result, please go right ahead, but please consult a doctor and have it done at a proper clinic.
But if you aren’t, remember that clear skin isn’t and shouldn’t be your only ultimate goal. What you should and could aim for is healthy skin.
For everything else, there is always makeup 😉
Have you successfully undergone laser skin treatments? Have you thought about it? I’d love to hear your stories
I know this was a long piece, so thank you so much for reading till here! I hope I didn’t step on any toes, because that’s not my intention. I’m just trying to explain why I chose the route I chose, and not the most conventional route. I’m not saying it’s the right way. The only right way is your way 🙂
29 comments ... Read or JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Wai Sze says
Hi. Very good piece. Did the dermatologists also mention the possible adverse events? I was freaked out when someone told me their neighbor had permanent burns after laser treatment (was compensated by clinic – like RM200k). Also my dermatologist told me for some people laser treatment can darken instead of lighten, so need to test a small patch first. After all these info (true or not), I decided to just live with it and use products.
Paris B says
Hi Wai Sze, to be honest, the side effects were downplayed. I did ask, because once, many years ago, I tried a laser thing that caused my dark spots to get darker. So, when I asked about it, it was brushed aside as “normal” and that “it will get better” but I wasn’t confident. I have heard of people who get burns and whose skin become very dry after laser treatments. I guess there are benefits, but there will always be that 2% of adverse reactions from someone, and goodness, what if it was me! I think for now, I’m happier just being at peace with my skin, spots and all. As long as it’s healthy, that’s all that matters to me! 🙂
Bravo PB! I am really impressed by your stand of not accepting sponsorship.
You are truly one of the rare ones.
I have thought about it, but knowing my ‘kiam siap’ and ‘low maintenance’ nature, it will remain a dream haha.
Even if I am to strike the lottery, I can think of better ways to spend money more meaningfully.
Paris B says
Ah but I did toy with the idea for a bit haha! 😀 I think sometimes, we just have to be true to ourselves and our status and place in life. Like you, I’d like for my money to go to something, and being kiam siap myself, I might eventually fall off the maintenance bandwagon. When I did my lasik, they told me I’d have to pay a certain sum to go back for check ups every year. After Year 3, I stopped going back and I never have since 😛 So, knowing our own character is also the best way to make a decision as momentous and expensive as this 🙂
The Japanese use the term “wabi-sabi “ which stands for the beauty of imperfection. The idea is that something that is too perfect, a completely white flawless piece of porcelain, will look terrible if it even has one tiny dark spot or crack in it. By contrast, a ceramic bowl which is not perfect will look better as it ages. Wabi-sabi also stands for impermanence, the passing of time, which we humans are subject to. A person will look distinctive, different from anyone else, and therefore memorable, if she has a “flaw”. Think of the models, Cindy Crawford (big mole on cheek) or Lauren Hutton (gap in front teeth). Their faces have character, unlike all the other blonde perfect-looking models. Not only that, Lauren Hutton kept on modeling for decades precisely because her imperfect looks aged better than someone like Christie Brinkley. Without your freckles you would not be you.
Paris B says
I love that concept of “wabi-sabi” thank you for introducing it to me! I shall read more about it, because it sounds like a perfect (or imperfect) approach to life. Thank you for your kind words, and while I don’t profess to be anything like Cindy Crawford or Lauren Hutton, they are good role models to emulate 😀
Hey didn’t they say freckles are cute? And bravo on you! Remember that my friend gave me a few sessions of zapping to zap off a pigmentation spot? I am glad I did actually as the patch came from no where, it grew, and annoying the hell out of me, it wouldn’t budge regardless of whatever I used. Thankfully the spot has not come back yet. For future, if I ever have to do it again, I am not sure if I can trust others doing it especially after hearing so many negative feedback from those zapping sessions.
Paris B says
They’re cute until they turn into pigmentation LOL! 😀 Ya it’s good that your spot went away and hasn’t come back. Mine became darker and I really panicked for a while. So in the end, I stopped. I think ultimately, if we really want to do things like this, it is best to go to good doctors and pay for them to treat. Cos now there are so many of these aesthetics clinics, and I learnt that not all the people there, who may be doctors, are qualified dermatologists. Some are regular doctors you’d go to for cough and cold. So, once I knew that (of a big clinic) I was quite put off.
I did 6 sessions of laser about 13 years ago (it was called PPx at that time). Results were good – Freckles were all gone. I had many years of clear skin until few years back. The freckles came back (due to genetics i guess as i religiously apply sunblock). I did 4 sessions of dual yellow laser last year. Results weren’t as great as what i has previously. But none left any bleeding or burns. There wasn’t any down time. I did not continue due to my busy business travels.
My advice would be to understand your skin, always research on the kinds of treatments available and read reviews from neutral parties… Never trust sponsored reviews on such treatments wholeheartedly as they are most probably too good to be true and the reviewers may have good skin to begin with.
Paris B says
Thank you for sharing, Ping 🙂 I’m glad that the treatments worked well for you, because it can be such a confidence booster when it does! I also agree with you about doing research. I did a lot of it, when I was contemplating doing laser treatments. But as you’ve noted, it’s not easy coming across non-sponsored “reviews”. I know there are many aesthetics clinics out there, as I have been approached by many to undergo sponsored treatments, and many of them engage with online bloggers or KOLs to promote their clinics. I sometimes feel that if someone doesn’t put their money where they’re mouth is, there is every chance that you’d gloss over negative points, which makes it hard to trust anyone out there, when it comes to treatments like this.
I developed patches of freckles/hyperpigmentation after I had my kids (first on one cheekbone, then the other) so mine’s probably from hormones and probably genetics because I know my mom has them, though she’s lasered hers off. She’s told me to laser mine, but I think of mine as a badge of honor, the cost of having my beautiful children! so I don’t mind them most of the time. I have given some idle thought to laser since then, but the cost is prohibitive. Overall I don’t worry about it! Life is too short to fuss over something like that. 🙂
Paris B says
Hi Christine, that is a lovely way to look at it! I have heard of women who develop melasma and hyperpigmentation due to pregnancy hormones too. But you are also right that the cost is high and unless we are willing to drop that sort of money on a treatment, or feel pressured enough to, there really is no one else we should be pleasing but ourselves. Here’s to imperfect but healthy skin 🙂
Very proud of you, PB! I do follow your ideas of getting healthier skin rather than focus on the imperfections. I noticed that without a well hydrated skin, the rest of the brightening skincares will not work on me. I do developed pegmentation after giving birth to my kids. I have trying around to get lighten through skincares as I’m currently still breastfeeding my younger one and there are limited of ingredients that can be use for myself to treat that problem. So I’m more working towards embracing my imperfections and healthy skin.
I have not try any laser treatments before and dare not too as I know it’s not one time fixed problem with 50-50. My mum did before but hers came back too. Not going to burn my skin. I’m not sure why I’m not into Botox or any injections too, maybe I’m too scare of needles. 😉
Paris B says
Thank you for your kind words Sharon. I have to say that it was only after a lot of self-introspection that I reached this decision haha! But you are absolutely right about having to keep our skin well hydrated to look at its best. Nothing will work on skin that is already dry or dehydrated because it will inherently be dull. As for injectibles, I’m just very wary about injecting anything into my body. Kiasi – as the Chinese will say LOL!
Thanks Paris for this thoughtful piece on pigmentation.
I had what my dermatologist called solar lentigines and seborrheic keratoses on the sides of my cheeks and all over my neck and chest. With time, they raised from the surface. Whenever I washed my face or put on cream, I could feel them. They bugged me more from the textural feeling than the visible one because they weren’t up front and center. Probably I got them because I neglected to put enough sunscreen or foundation with spf in those areas.
The only solution was to do laser and upkeep with specific products to prevent them coming back. Last year, I bit the bullet and went for it. I have to say it was probably the second best decision cosmetic-wise I ever made (the first being permanent laser hair removal on legs, bikini line and under arms) ?
In France, it costs between 300-400 € per laser treatment and I only needed two treatments to take the raised parts away and most of the pigmentation. The rest of the pigmentation disappeared and stayed at bay with an extremely affordable cream (12€) by CYTOLNAT with kojic acid, licorice extract and skullcap plant that you can buy over the counter in French pharmacies and is recommended by dermatologists for depigmentation of every sort.
Post laser treatment (Q-Switched ND Yag 532 nm), they used CYTOLNAT cream with centella asiatica and La Roche Posay after laser ointment.
The scabs went away in around 5-7 days. My spots were deep, raised and over 20 yrs old !
However, what I had was not technically hyper-pigmentation, or melasma. My experience with melasma only lasted leading up to my pregnancies and a short time afterwards. I stayed out of the sun and wore a spf 50 Avene super thick sunblock stick (the orange one) and reapplied every hour to those areas : upper forehead, top lip and a little around eyes upper cheeks. It seemed the heat even provoked this discolouration so I tried to stay in fresh environments. I’m convinced it’s hormonal and genetic as you suggested.
Lastly, I would like to add that on skin that is slightly tan, there is a very serious risk of getting over zapped by a lesser or under-skilled laser specialist resulting with no pigmentation left and a white spot ! My advice is pay the price and see the top dermatologist specialising in your area or country. If you’re going to invest in this, do it right !
A good trustworthy Derm is worth her or his weight in Gold even if just for advice and as you realised if you have to involve marketing techniques into the fray it’s probably not the right decision in the long run. A truly authentic and confident Derm would never require or request a public statement. Geez, your followers would notice it without you saying a peep. Results and word of mouth say more any day in the beauty community. I enjoy your freshness and natural disposition that make you unique.
Paris B says
Hi Kristine, thank you so much for sharing your opinion and experience on this issue 🙂 It was fortunate that you didn’t have to spend too much to rid yourself of the problem, and that the cost of maintenance thereafter has been affordable. You are also lucky to have very high quality and affordable products in your French pharmacies! I am so jealous and the last time I was there, I went absolutely nuts buying up a storm haha! Thank you also for sharing the potential adverse effects of over-zapping. I think it is something that very few people will tell you about.
The “problem” i feel, is that in many of these clinics, the doctor you consult may not be the one operating the laser. Some are, some aren’t and leave it to their technicians. So you are absolutely correct to say that if I really do plan to do this one day, to be sure I do it right, and at the best doctor who can assure me that he/she will be the one operating the equipment. Few good doctors need the words of bloggers or online influencers to spread the word 🙂 Thank you again, for sharing your thoughts, I appreciate it!
Well!! Firstly – I have never looked at a photo of you and noticed the pigmentation! ? I just always think you look lovely! And then I want whatever make up or cream you’ve written about ?
But anyway although I don’t have this issue so much, I read it all because I am sometimes drawn (in my 50’s) to go down the path of injectables and many of the principles you talk about apply for me – acceptance of self , weighing the cost of upkeep, the inevitability of it all coming back anyway lol
But above all, I loved your whole message and am so in agreement with it. I’m not saying I won’t ever go down the path of more extreme treatment but I wholeheartedly LOVE your approach. I’m trying to fight that vanity thing, so – yay!
Also my daughter in law is Nepali and obsessed with getting rid of her actually very attractive freckles which culturally she is told are ‘ugly’ – I may get her to read this as I am constantly telling her to accept it and that’s she is beautiful. That ‘glass skin’ thing is crazy btw. Damned Instagram!! And I do feel for young girls growing up trying to keep up with all this ?
Thank you for another thought provoking read ?
Ps I love that Japanese concept of wabi-sabi that another commenter mentioned – how wonderful !
Paris B says
Haha thank you Sarah for your kind words. I think sometimes, people are so in tune with the idea and image of perfection that anything that detracts from this perfect image stands out more. So, if people have been used to the idea and image of bloggers looking flawless in person and in photos, the sight of pigmentation or scars looks “off”.
Thank you for sharing also your thoughts on the approach to “enhancements”. Ultimately, I think anything we do should be for ourselves. So, if it will make you feel happy or more comfortable, then perhaps it might be the right thing to do. But we should not allow society or peer pressure force us to feel we have to look a certain way. I can understand how your daughter in law feels because it is such an Asian thing to want to be fair and flawless. And I hear you about the glass skin trend. Sometimes, it looks like they have just walked out having smeared gel on their faces, just to get that “watery glow” haha! I’m sure there are many women (and men) with very good skin out there, but I also think that those who don’t outnumber those who do. We just have to be able to embrace our imperfections, or we’ll never be happy 🙂 Thank you for your thoughtful comment Sarah! 🙂
Beauty Bee says
Great post Paris! I love that you have such a healthy way of looking at yourself and your skin! It is becoming SO rare, it’s scary…
I had some IPL treatments maybe 3 years ago now…. Overall, my skin looked GREAT afterwards (it’s supposed to stimulate collagen production and all that. Plus, I coupled the IPL with Omnilux treatments) BUT it didn’t get rid of all of my pigmentation – if anything, it drew some more out from the lower layers of my skin. I think I had just 3 treatments in total. Sure, I could have gone back for more, but I was over the cost and pain LOL Even the driving to the clinic and making time for the treatments can be too much if you’re busy.
I think I will go back for more this year when we are in winter, as I’ve gotten more broken capillaries thanks to the resurrection of acne I experienced earlier – and – more pigmentation spots because I went back on the pill (the one I’m on makes you super sensitive to UV rays). I’m not sure how many sessions I’ll have so we will see….
What really put me off last time (and I went to a really reputable clinic) is that they kept talking to me about different kinds of lasers (and stronger ones) to deal with my remaining ‘issues’. I’m lucky that I don’t have acne scars, but they still suggested I try FRAXEL for my pigmentation (that’s the super deep laser, that maybe was mentioned to you – it literally burns your skin). WTF. I know what Fraxel is and how serious it is from my days at the Dermatologists office. My sister had Fraxel treatments done because she does suffer from acne scars and guess what…. it actually brought out MORE pigmentation in her skin, rather than reducing it! In their brochures and online it’s marketed as a laser which helps reduce pigmentation. So you never know!
IPL is all I’m willing to do atm. And I know it’s not a cure all…. I also read an interview with a Dermatologist that specialises in laser treatments and she said that all damage and healing processes activated in the skin DO leave marks (as in, the treatments aren’t ‘traceless’). After a while they either stop working and/or they leave marks deeper in your epidermis that can come to the surface after a while. She recommended using more heavy duty lasers later on in life if needed, which makes sense. I liked her balanced view and insight.
I guess lasers and everything else is a commodity and business to someone at the end of the day.
I don’t know if it’s just me but I thought that maybe 10-15 years ago, we were all coming to terms with ‘flaws’ being part of everyday life and normal. That magazines don’t portray reality. I feel like Instagram has made us go backwards – everyone thinks they need to look good all the time for photos or we compare ourselves to those who ‘supposedly do’ in…. ‘everyday life’. Maybe the two aren’t related but I’m suss….
P.S. Good luck replying to all these essay comments Paris LOL 😀
Paris B says
As you can see, I have taken a while to get around to replying comments LOL! 😀 But thank you Sylvia, for sharing your experience with treatments of this sort. I have heard of Fraxel laser treatments, and I must admit that it’s what put me off, because for a time in the past, that is all that was available. I’d seen people with the down time, and the swelling, the peeling and the redness, and I have to say I was put off. Ultimately, you are quite literally harming your skin, just to hopefully end up with a better result. The results for most of them have been nothing short of wonderful though LOL!
Thank you also for sharing the view by the dermatologist, that damaging the skin with laser (because that’s what we’re really doing) comes with consequences. Sometimes, I think we are too near-sighted in our approach to beauty. We want that instant or quick result, but what are the consequences 20 or 30 years down the road? If we are prepared to upkeep those treatments for the next 30 years, then perhaps it will be managed. But what if we aren’t or can’t? What will we look like in our 60s or 70s? That really does worry me too. So ultimately, I’m just going to stay au naturel – it’s like with my hair. I told myself years ago that when I started going grey, I’d start dying my hair again. I’ve started going grey now, and am going to leave it be – the cost of the maintenance does put me off LOL! So, eventually I’ll look like all of my 50 years – If I’m still blogging then LOL! 😀
I had 2 laser treatments 4 years ago, and 1 dual yellow light treatment last year. They gave me impressive results. I have to say mine are just freckles and sun spots so these treatments are very effective. It’s cheaper where I live, and 1 session zapped away everything I wanted. Something a bottle of serum could never do. So for me, it’s worth it and I’d do it again.
It’s pretty annoying that you get questions about why you don’t get rid of your dark spots. I think it’s just the same as asking why some married couples are not having kids or why a single woman is not getting married.
It isn’t really anyone else’s business, I reckon.
I just wanted to say that the fact that you embrace imperfect skin and continue being so blunt yet thoughtful with your opinions is the reason why I’ve continued reading your blog all these years. I find it hard to trust influencers who use studio lights and slap a million filters on.
Having rediscovered water sports over the past two years wound up with me sprouting freckles all over my face (despite an obsessive sunscreen habit) that refuse to go away. As someone who has had little problems other than the occasional flareup and dryness, it’s quite a lot to take in when I’ve previously had no such issues. So it’s encouraging to read about focusing on skin health rather than the way it looks.
There really isn’t enough discussion about how skin changes over the years :'(
Paris B says
Thank you for your kind words Deborah 🙂 Oh, water sports! I’m afraid with all that exposure to the sun AND the water (lots of reflection and water washes away sunscreen quickly) sun spots will be inevitable. But you know, it’s that or stop doing what you love, and really, life is too short to not do what you love! 😀
Actually you raised an interesting point about how skin changes over the years. Yes it does, and sometimes, not even through the years, but from season to season, depending also on what we do, or if something happens to us. There are so many factors to consider, so we just have to know our own skin, and be alert to any changes we notice, and treat it accordingly 🙂
Paris B says
I remember when you had yours Lily, and it’s good to know that they were quick and effective. I think sun spots and freckles definitely benefit from that quick zap, because they are usually closer to the surface and easier to remove. Price-wise I think the clinic you went to is quite standard in their pricing throughout the country 😉 And yes, it really is nobody’s concern why I do or not do anything about skin’s imperfections. but then, people are inherently nosy LOL! The same way we all gravitate towards gossip mags I guess 😀
Thank you for this post. Really gave me info for making a decision
I have started my laser treatment since last year dec 2019. I had gone thru 3 treatments thus far. Doctor advised that i must go for weekly treatment for the 1st month, subsequent treatments can be every 3 weeks.
My first treatment was intensive, downtime about 5 to 7 days. During the period, my face looked horrible as dark pigments were surfaced on my cheek, near eyes area, After the 1st treatment, the pigments near my eyes had lighter. I was happy . I look forward my new clear skin .
Yes, it is a on going cost. After pigments have been lighten or dark sports removed, doctor advised it is better to continue with laser treatment on monthly basis.
On top of that, a pigment corrector “must” apply to maintain or control meslama (doctor advised that meslama can be removed away but will come back, sun sports can be removed perpectually).
My pigmentation skin is due to genetics and work stress. As doctor analysed my face skin and concluded that mine is a complex pigmentation which sun sports 70% meslama 30%, he claimed that after the laser treatment all sun sports sure can be removed and will not come back, therefore, i decided to have a try, to spend months income to “cure” the stubborb dark spots (it has been with me many years).
Hi Paris, just started reading your blog and am quite enjoying it. I liked the honesty and ‘status-conscious’ mindset your writing conveyed in this piece. I personally have pretty bad acne scars from terrible acne as a teenager, which were compounded by the humidity and heat growing up in Malaysia. I always felt that these scars ‘marred’ whatever beauty I had and have, even up until now, always been quite self conscious of them, being the first thing I see when I look at my reflection most of the time. A couple of years ago I saved up for some laser treatments which were partially effective and made the scarring more shallow – but my dermatologist advised that for the deepest scars, only a certain type of laser treatment, (the Pico facial or “vampire facial” I think it’s called) which involves using your own blood as part of the treatment, would be able to truly help even out the skin. That did freak me out a little and even though I’m sure the procedure would be safe, it got me thinking, maybe similarly to you, that this ‘quest’ for smooth and (in my case), mainly ‘normal’ skin (forget ‘glass skin, haha) could maybe realistically never end, once I stepped on that train. As you mention, the added costs of prescribed skin care (the accompanying recommended scrub and hydrating lotion for my initial laser treatments were over RM300 each, NOT insignificant) are costly too and so it can add up to a huge amount. As you say, aren’t there better and more worthwhile things to spend our resources on? I’d still love to magically wake up with smooth, non-cratery skin one day but it’s not gonna happen, so hard as it is for those of us who live in this culture that worships poreless, perfect Korean idol-airbrushed skin (esp in Asia, I feel like Asians, whether from South East or Asia are fanatical about skin and what it says about you, lol.), we just have to try to shrug our shoulders and get on with things. Funnily enough, I’ve noticed that not everyone ‘sees’ my scarring like I do – I’ve had boyfriends act genuinely surprised when I say I felt the need to get laser treatments for my skin and good friends say they never even noticed until I pointed it out. On the other hand, some people have been ruder, with casual acquaintances asking me why I have ‘holes’ in my skin and casually commentating that they could tell I had acne as a teenager. This brings me back to a quote I read from an English author, who suffered from terrible cystic acne as a teen and who has pretty dramatic scarring as an adult: “What people choose to point out/pick on always says more about their insecurities than it does about you. Who cares? What you see is up to you, not them”. I still struggle to accept my skin fully but as you say, it’s not a disability or a medical issue in any way, it’s really just our vanity we need to overcome. Not that wanting to feel good about yourself is bad but I think learning to accept what we can and cannot feasibly change is also a great attitude to have. Like you say, the emphasis should be on healthy and not perfect skin. Anyway, in the meantime I’m just going to continue to use my Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder (love this product and likes your review of it too btw, Dim Light was recommended for me, as it helps blur imperfections and it does make a difference!) and continue to fine tune my foundation and concealer techniques (at the age of 31 I only recently learned how to properly apply make up, hahaha) – and that will be enough for me :).
Hi Paris, thanks for writing about this. It was really interesting to hear your perspective and also the options available based on your conversations with doctors. I also suffer with pigmentation (mine is melasma). It’s basically all around my face like a mask but thankfully it’s quite light and not too obvious. When I wear a light-medium coverage foundation you can’t really see it but it’s noticeable without any foundation. It’s annoying because my skin is otherwise clear (no blemishes) but the pigmentation means I can never go make up free. I am Caucasian with skin type 2, so fairly light so I’m not really “predisposed” to melasma but I have a hormone imbalance and that problem along with the medication I take for it is the cause of my pigmentation 🙁 I have been told that I can get laser etc and it will work but the pigmentation will definitely come back due to my hormonal condition. It’s very frustrating. I use spf50 everyday but did you know that UV rays enter the body through your eyes (and penetrate the retina) too and cause the reaction that triggers your skin to make more melanin and makes the pigment worse, so it’s important to use sunglasses and a hat as well as spf when you go in the sun. 🙂
Paris B says
Thank you for sharing, and I’m sorry to hear of your hormonal problem. It’s hard when it’s our bodies that gives us grief, doesn’t it? That said, I think much of it is down to us, and our own acceptance of how we look, and to not allow it to define who we are. Thank you too for the SPF in the eyes tip. Will be sure to grab a hat next time I’m headed out!