I often get asked why I carry Guinot, 302 and PCA skin care lines at SkinSense so here is a brief summary of all three. Feel free to call with any questions about these products or any others that you may be using.

GUINOT is a skin care line that has been privately owned and operated for over half a century. With the cache of French luxury and the advantages of time tested formulas and modern science, the Guinot line offers the best possible solution to just about every skin problem. I have always used it because of the great results I have seen continuously on my clients’ skins over the two decades I have owned SkinSense. Each formula takes sensitivity into account which is so vital in today’s stressed world where acne, rosacea and even pigmentation can be triggered by our fast paced lives (see previous post on Melasma).

Essential oils, active botanicals and the latest in hydration and aging formulas are all available in this line which suits our clients interested in anti-aging and optimum skin maintenance.

302 Skincare is a 100% organic line with a wonderful avocado molecule that messages the cell receptors to get busy. Also great for sensitive skins, the formulas are uncomplicated and extremely gentle. Clients love the price point and simplicity of these products.

We use PCA skn care to target very specific issues like acne, rosacea and pigmentation and we find the formulas blend very well with everything else we stock. Once again the price point is extremely favorable and even though the ingredients are tough on acne and break-outs they rebalance and correct without causing any irritation.

It took us a long time to decide on these lines and are very proud and happy to utilise all three.

Dealing with pigmentation continues to be a struggle but as we learn more about the condition, we are adding some useful tools. Here are some of them.

An estimated six million women throughout the US are currently affected by melasma (also known as chloasma). This is a specific type of pigmentation problem thought to be caused by stimulation of the pigment-producing cells (melanocytes), and by the hormones estrogen and progesterone, when exposed to the sun and/or heat. Melasma is often referred to as the “mask of pregnancy” as the skin often darkens at this time, but the birth control pill and HT (hormone therapy) can also trigger a response. Other factors implicated in this annoying skin condition are certain medications that can cause photosensitivity, and cosmetics and fragrances that contain alcohol.

There are actually two kinds of melasma: epidermal, which is the most common and treatable type, and dermal, which is seen less often. Dermal melasma is light brown in color and has ill-defined borders. It is best treated topically with mandelic acid (an AHA derived from bitter almonds) and can often turn darker if treated with IPL (Intense Pulsed Laser) or laser protocols. Epidermal melasma generally has well defined borders and is dark brown in color.

There are several popular topicals currently being recommended for this type of melasma, primarily tyrosinase inhibitors but including bleaching and lightening agents. Tyrosinase is the enzyme responsible for catalyzing melanin, so inhibiting the action of tyrosinase is quite effective in reducing pigmentation issues.

The tyrosinase inhibitors are:

Kojic acid, derived from fungus

Arbutin, derived from the leaves of uva-ursi, the bearberry plant

Liquorice extract, taken from the root of the plant

Rumex extract, derived from the field dock

Niacinamide, also known as Vitamin B

Mulberry leaf extract

Other topical agents:

Vitamin C, a skin lightener and antioxidant derived from ascorbic acid

Tretonin, a skin exfoliator prescribed as Tazarac or Retin-A

Azelaic acid, a bleaching agent derived from barley, wheat and rye grains

Hydroquinone is still the most single effective bleaching treatment for melasma, but there are side effects attributed to this topical and some countries have banned its use. In fact, the FDA is now considering banning the sale of 2% OTC (over the counter) hydroquinone in the US and making it available by prescription only. If you are using it to treat melasma, watch for any irritation, redness and unusual discoloration.

The advantage of using topicals on the above list is that when combined properly, they can outweigh the benefits of hydroquinone and they have no side effects when used correctly.

Spa Treatments:

At SkinSense, we have found that ultrasound used with some of these topicals, particularly Vitamins C and A, during a facial treatment, helps to fade the pigmentation more rapidly by aiding penetration. Modified chemical peels alternated with regular applications of AHAs also speed results.

The client needs patience and persistance when tackling this condition because results are gradual. We recommend postponing spa treatments until the cooler weather sets in. As mentioned earlier, heat alone can cause pigmentation, so wait until fall and winter to start treatments. During the summer, we recommend deep-cleaning facials, lots of sunscreen, shade and wide-brimmed hats.