Tag Archives: uneven skin tone

Hydroquinone-Free Products Reign Supreme

According to leading cosmetics industry market research firm Kline & Company, “While hydroquinone (HQ) has been the gold standard ingredient in the physician dispense arena for the treatment of hyperpigmentation, this ingredient is surrounded with controversy due to some of its reported side effects. Europe has banned HQ in concentrations greater than 1% and in the United States it has been banned from five states – New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Montana, and Texas.” Kline also cites this trend as the reason for the rise of  hydroquinone-free or HQ-free skin brightening products featuring alternatives to HQ.

Beverly Hills dermatologist Dr. Zein Obagi has been at the forefront of reversing hyperpigmentation for 30 years. However, he has raised concerns about the abuse and overuse of hydroquinone without medical supervision that has arisen due to the Internet. “For many consumers, hydroquinone is like an old friend who inexplicably turns on you. They may have used it for years, trusting that their dermatologist – or, frequently, some Internet pharmacy – would never recommend a product that could harm them. But over time, some of these consumers commonly develop new pigment problems in the areas where they have faithfully applied hydroquinone. The product they bought to lighten sunspots, melasma, or other hyperpigmentation paradoxically leaves them with tough-to-treat issues such as severe rebound hyperpigmentation.”

Due to this plea for caution, Dr. Obagi has developed hydroquinone-free alternatives that work synergistically for visible skin brightening, without the side effects associated with long term use of hydroquinone. Through extensive research, the ZO Skin Health team has created the ZO Non-Hydroquinone Hyperpigmentation System for Skin Brightening  that contains 4 key products to help reverse discoloration, including

This breakthrough system reduces the appearance of hyperpigmentation without the use of hydroquinone or retinol. It works to brighten your skin tone and lessen the appearance of discoloration and brown spots, for a more even complexion. Because the formulation is hydroquinone-free, it is gentle and easy to tolerate without irritation when used under your ZO doctor’s supervision.

The results are younger, brighter, healthier-looking skin and you will start to see results in 2-3 weeks with consistent application. Don’t forget that getting brighter skin means practicing safe sun.


6 Makeup Tips To Make You Look Younger

“You look tired!” Those are three little words that no woman ever wants to hear, especially after sleeping a full eight hours. Newsflash – it could be that you’re making makeup mistakes that are ruining your good looks.

Before you apply any makeup, make sure your skin is properly cleansed and hydrated, protected with your daily SPF, especially around the delicate eyelid area. ZO Skin Health Oclipse Sunscreen + Primer SPF30 is the ideal first step before foundation.

  • Apply foundation the right way.

Wearing too much, none at all, or the wrong shade that doesn’t match your skin tone are all considered cardinal sins by makeup artists.  Skipping foundation or base completely can make your skin look pale and washed out. The wrong foundation in any form – from powder to liquid or cream –  can make wrinkles and imperfections actually appear more prominent too. Find your ideal color and apply it evenly. If you’re struggling to choose the best match, ask for professional help. If you are not a consistent makeup wearer, try mineral makeup that is feather light and looks great on all skin types with added UV light protection.

  • Add a sweep of  bronzer or blush.

A touch of natural looking blush gives your face a brightness and radiance – as if you were kissed by the sun. Start by using a soft natural bristle blush brush on the apples of your cheeks and apply toward your hairline. Keep the shade warm, peachy or golden for maximum effect and don’t overdo it. You’ll look awake and refreshed and ready to face the day (and night).

  • Never leave home without mascara.

Glossy dark mascara is a must to make your eyes really stand out, and it adds a touch of glamor to every woman’s face. For maximum impact lashes, try ZO Skin Health Ossential Lash Enhancing Serum with a powerful blend of peptides that has been clinically proven to enhance eyelash thickness and length and add volume to thinning, sparse lashes and brows too.

  • Don’t go crazy with eyeliner.

If you wear too much or a thick application of jet black liner, you eyes can actually appear smaller and look tired. Choose a softer shade for daytime wear – such as gray, black-brown, or charcoal. If your eyes are bloodshot or you haven’t had enough sleep, also consider lining your lower lid with a blue or navy-colored pencil to open up your eyes and make the whites look whiter.

  •  Set your brows to frame your eyes.

Brows are critical elements of a well put together face. They balance out your features and frame the eyes for a maximum impact. If you are stumped as to what shape works best for your face, take a lesson with a pro to learn how to groom your brows. Stick with the shade that matches your brow and hair color – don’t go too dark. Powders and pencils may be easiest to apply. Use a fixative – wax or gel – to keep unruly brows in place. Avoid over-plucking or your brows may end up looking too thin for your face.

  • Choose a flattering lip color.

If your lips are small or have lost volume, don’t choose a color that makes them look smaller. Stick with soft, pretty shades (rosy, tawny, medium pinks, corals) that flatter your complexion. Browns and brown-reds, deep plums and wines can make lips recede and accentuate fine lip lines. Line your lips with a neutral shade pencil to maintain a nice shape, follow with lipstick, and add a touch of gloss in the center of the bottom lip for a sexy pout. Matte lipsticks can also make you look older. A young lip is a moist, curvy, and natural-looking lip.

Out of the Dark – Reversing Sun Spots

In addition to lines and wrinkles, uneven skin tone, dark spots, and discoloration can add years to your complexion. Studies have shown that hyperpigmentation can significantly contribute to the overall appearance of skin aging, increasing your perceived age by as much as 10 years. But discoloration doesn’t have to be a fact of life.

If you want to keep your skin clear of discoloration, STAY OUT OF THE SUN!

Our skin tone is determined by the amount of melanin contained in the epidermis. With UV exposure, cells called melanocytes are stimulated to create additional melanin, resulting in a tan. As we age and accumulate repeated exposure to UV radiation, melanocytes become damaged and permanently switched on to overproduce melanin. This results in dark spots – called age spots, sun spots, and formerly liver spots – or solar lentigines, which are benign flat brown spots that usually appear on the face, chest, and the backs of the hands that get the most sun exposure.

Your first line of defense to prevent dark spots from forming is sun avoidance. Wear protective clothing, seek the shade during peak hours, and always, always, always wear broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB rays outside. If you protect your skin from birth, you could actually avoid developing spots.

UV exposure is cumulative and sometimes its effects don’t show up until we are well into our 50s or 60s. In fact, 90% of fair skinned people over the age of 60 will develop dark spots from the sun.

For years, the treatment of dark spots has been comprised of chemical peels, microdermabrasion, and laser resurfacing. Removing the outermost layers of the skin through exfoliation helps improve skin texture and tone. For more dramatic results, the skin should be treated topically before any procedure is performed. In some cases, topical treatments can adequately reverse the problem without the need for more invasive procedures.

Hydroquinone has long been considered the gold standard for reversing pigmentation. It works by disrupting the function of melanocytes, therefore prohibiting the production of melanin. Products sold over-the-counter can only contain up to 2% hydroquinone, while physician dispensed treatments are usually more potent.

To keep skin bright and even toned, Dr. Zein Obagi developed 3 key products designed to reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation.

NOTE: With any skin lightening or brightening therapy, you must use daily SPF30 to protect your skin.

The Benefits (and Dangers) of Hydroquinone

Hydroquinone is a topical agent used in dermatology for reducing pigmentation and discoloration in the skin. It is available in the U.S. in over-the-counter strengths of up to 2 percent, with higher concentrations available only by prescription. Because of dangers associated with hydroquinone several countries, such as the U.K. and Japan, have banned its use.

Consumers are now getting hydroquinone on the internet without the benefit of medical supervision, which can have dangerous consequences. Over the past six years, the internet has been inundated with discounted skincare products, including hydroquinone-based skin bleaching creams that are being sold direct to consumers. In the past, hydroquinone could only be obtained with a prescription or under the care of a physician. We are seeing a wave of cases of hyperpigmentation from consumers using hydroquinone for the wrong indications and without adequate sun protection. Without seeing a qualified dermatologist or licensed skincare professional, there is so much misuse and overuse of this potent topical agent.

Our skincare collection, the ZO® Medical range, is available exclusively through healthcare practitioners around the world—you can only use our formulations through your dermatologist or plastic surgeon, because they are the skincare experts and can instruct you on how to use these potent and effective products in an optimal way.

MELAMIN™ contains 4% USP hydroquinone and is s highly effective solution to lighten hyperpigmentation. The MELAMIN formulation alters the essential subcellular metabolic processes that cause cytolysis and inhibits melanin production, resulting in a more even skin color and tone. Similarly, MELAMIX™ also contains 4% USP hydroquinone. It is a gradual bleaching cream that works to penetrate the skin and effectively deliver the active ingredients of the system to the melanocytes. MELAMIX reduces the appearance of chloasma, melasma, and freckles and optimizes delivery of active ingredients.

ZO Skin Health is on a mission to help make our customers aware of the dangerous consequences of prolonged use of hydroquinone without medical supervision, and to provide safe concentrations of hydroquinone through prescription-only products engineered to to safely correct hyperpigmentation and other skin discoloration issues.

Radical Night Repair – The Wrinkle Solver

When it comes to anti-aging, Dr. Obagi doesn’t mess around. Case in point, ZO Skin Health’s Radical Night Repair Plus.

Typical drug store retinol products contain clinically insignificant amounts of retinol. Minuscule, in fact. Why? Because retinol is difficult to formulate with, and because when used in high concentrations, it’s extremely potent. So rather than produce a lotion or cream that really works, manufacturers put in just a little. The industry nickname for that is “fairy dust”—like a fairy sprinkled just a little powder from her magic wand. And if you believe in magic wands, you may believe the claims that those manufacturers make!

Here’s a tidbit that you may not know: it’s an unfortunate fact that the cosmeceutical industry is not regulated, and manufacturers are allowed to promote a product by claiming that a it contains retinol (or any other ingredient) even if it contains only a trace amount. That’s not fair to you, the consumer.

And at ZO, that’s just not our style. The concentration of retinol in Radical Night Repair Plus is 6x higher that the leading retinol product sold through drug stores, and 15x the amount of retinol sold through infomercials and home shopping channels.

The high concentration of retinol in Radical Night Repair Plus enables it to work hard to awaken your cells so that they start producing collagen and enable your skin to act and look younger. Radical Night Repair Plus could very well be the most effective over-the-counter anti-aging product.

Keep in mind, there is such a thing as getting too much of a good thing. It may take your skin days or weeks to tolerate the high concentrations of retinol present in Radical Night Repair Plus. Please begin by applying it only once or twice a week, and as pharmaceutical manufacturers say, follow label instructions carefully. Within weeks, you’ll be able to increase the frequency, and you should eventually apply it 7 nights per week.

So You Think You Have Sensitive Skin?

Dr. Zein Obagi doesn’t believe in sensitive skin. He believes that skin needs to be strengthened by using the right skin care regimen to restore it to optimal health.

Classic symptoms of so-called sensitive skin include:

  • diffuse redness and irritation, especially in the T-zone
  • tingling, tightening, dryness, and flakiness
  • reaction or discomfort to procedures or products—shaving, waxing, cosmetics
  • blotchiness, swelling, edema, which sometimes can advance to rosacea

In fact, these are really signs of skin weakness, and it’s sometimes caused by the use—or overuse—of the wrong products, particularly moisturizers. It seems antithetical—a moisturizer was probably the first product that you used on your skin, and the one you trusted and used most frequently. But it could also be the one that harms and ages your skin the most—either accelerating skin aging, or inducing skin sensitivity.

With young and healthy skin, the cells in the dermis collect water from the food we eat and water we drink, and deliver that water to the surface of the skin. It’s a natural part of cellular nourishment and repair. That’s why it’s so important that we keep skin cells active and functioning normally. But when you apply a moisturizer to hydrate and plump the skin, the skin cells in the epidermis send a message to the cells in the dermis: slow down, we’re fat and happy up here. That causes the cells in the dermis to become lazy and go dormant—and the skin becomes drier, thinner, and less elastic. At that point, the skin is compromised and begins to lose its ability to function as a natural and protective barrier. That induces sensitivity and leads to redness, irritation, wrinkling, and accelerated aging.

Crazy as it seems, moisturizers—which supposedly are calming and soothing—are frequently just the opposite. If you’re going to use a moisturizer, use one that suppresses irritation, that calms the skin, and  that contains some retinol to awaken dormant cells. And don’t ever use a moisturizer to the exclusion of products that activate and stimulate your skin.

Kick the moisturizer habit. Make sure that your skin is rejuvenating and repairing itself. It’s one of the best strategies for well-nourished, healthy skin.

Asian Skin—Part Nature, Part Nurture

Asian women are often the envy of women around the world because they tend to look younger than their chronological age. Why are they so fortunate? Asian skin generally contains more melanin, so photoaging is less visible. By avoiding sun exposure, they can maintain a more even-tone complexion and their skin is less prone to the tell-tale signs of aging—like wrinkling and sagging.

What are some of the characteristics of Asian skin types?

  • Sensitivity. Asian skin is susceptible to discoloration from UV rays, hormonal changes, hot water, saunas, and steam. Asian skin also reacts badly to the use of some skincare products, moisturizers, and fragrances—all of which can result in skin reactions, scarring, and increased pigmentation. Try to avoid those products and/or conditions that cause problems, and begin sun protection at an early age. Look out for ingredients like ammonia, arnia, and sodium lauryl sulfate, especially if they appear at or near the top of the ingredient list. If these ingredients are used in minute amounts (toward the bottom of the list), they may not be problematic.
  • Pigmentation. Because Asian skin produces more melanin, it has a built-in SPF that helps reduce sunburns, but this melanin also causes more discoloration. Even though the skin may appear to be light, the melanin may reside in the deeper layers of the skin. This excess melanin can induce pigmentation problems, including sun spots, dark patches, and deep discoloration that is resistant to treatment. Dark spots on the cheeks usually begin to appear in the 30s and 40s, although they can also start to appear earlier. Unfortunately, traditional ways of treating these pigmentation problems (IPL, photorejuvenation, light chemical peels, microdermabrasion, etc.) frequently are not effective, and may, in fact, cause the pigmentation to worsen. Apply broad-spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreen with at least SPF 30 every day, rain or shine, regardless of whether you’re indoors or out, as UVA rays can penetrate windows. Not only will you reduce the risk of skin cancer, you will also help reduce the incidence of pigmentation problems.
  • Oiliness/Acne. Asian skin tends to have unstable sebaceous glands. Sometimes that excess sebum production leads to discoloration and scarring. Proper care and oil-free moisturizers will help. Avoid products made with mineral oil—it’s the oil most commonly found in skincare products. It’s also important to avoid the use of cleansers that contain alcohol, as that may cause skin to produce even more oil. And don’t make the mistake of using overly harsh cleansers—look out for ingredients like sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate, as these detergents can be very damaging.

The best way to treat all of these problems—sensitivity, pigmentation, and acne—is by stimulating the skin to rejuvenate itself and expedite cellular renewal. All of the ZO Skin Health products are based on this philosophy.

In more advanced cases, problem skin may require medical treatments such as peels and laser resurfacing. Ask your dermatologist or plastic surgeon what the best treatments and skin care regimen is for your skin.