paging RedCatWaves - a newbie to active skincare here!

I saw gstringgranny's post, and thought I'd start my own thread about this. Recently I had two skincare consultations at med spas here in San Francisco, for hyperpigmentation(from sun damage) and skin roughness issues. I just turned 60, my skin is normal-to-oily, somewhat thin and sensitive with a dehydrated surface due to the lack of exfoliation. I have had varying luck with exfoliants as they either don't work, only feel nice for a day or so, or cause skin irritation - so in recent times I have backed off from exfoliation save for the occasional homemade sugar or baking soda scrub. As you know from previous posts, I'm a big proponent of natural products whenever possible, but I haven't found anything natural really for skin lightening or for a basic cleanser for that matter. At this point I'm into switching into a more effective regimen that will treat my issues and not waste money on products that don't work.
The first medspa recommended the following as treatment products:

AM - cleanse with Cetaphil Cleanser(which I already use)
Obagi Exfoderm Forte
Obagi Clear(4% hydroquinone)
Every third morning, Skinceuticals C+E Ferulic serum
Moisturize with Cetaphil Cream(I also use this already)
Sunblock - Skinceuticals SPF 30 Physical Sunblock

PM - Obagi Clear
.05 Retin - A(starting with once or twice weekly applications)

The second one recommended a scaled-down routine, as I felt the first spa didn't quite listen to me about my sensitivity, and I felt that the above would be like jumping into the deep end of the pool:

AM - same basic cleansing + moisturizing recs as above, with introducing Jan Marini's Bioglycolic Cleanser every third day and increasing as I acclimate to it. For a less expensive but very similar product I am considering Aquaglycolic Cleanser(I have some samples of that coming from the company).
Obagi Clarifying Serum(combo of 4% hydroquinone+10% Vitamin C), again, introducing this every third day and increasing to skin tolerance.
Sunblock - I complained about the really white cast of the above-mentioned Skinceuticals product(I had a sample of this from the first medspa), and had been previously using a Neutrogena chemical sunblock(SPF 45) - he said that the Neutrogena product would be fine for me.

PM - cleanse and moisturize with Cetaphil Cleanser and Cream

Both med spas recommended a series(3-5) of IPL treatments too, for deeper sunspots.

So, what do you think of this second scaled-down routine? And, since products with a prescription-strength level of hydroquinone were recommended in both cases - what are your thoughts on the hydroquinone? I have been doing a LOT of online research about this and some folks say that HQ is the worst and that their skin got worse even with the best of protection, some say it causes cancer, and some say that it really worked and their hyperpigmentation really faded out. If hydroquinone is so bad, then why do skin professionals almost universally recommend it for skin lightening. I've seen alot of OTC alternatives like stuff with kojic acid, arbutin, etc. but have been hesitant to try these on account of being concerned that I will waste money on stuff that doesn't work.
I know this is alot of questions, but you seem to be knowledgable about treatment products - TIA!
The problems with hydroquinone (darkening the skin) are extremely rare, so I really don't understand all the hoopla against it. It's all been hyped out of proprotion. It really is the only topical preparation that works on hyperpigmentation. I use hydroquinone, in the form of Tri-Luma, which is hydroquinone 4% mixed with Retin-A 0.05% and an anti-inflammatory steroid. It really got rid of the last of my discolorations on my cheeks, which I was unable to get rid of with Vitamin C, kojic acid, Retin-A, copper peptides, arbutin, and mandelic acid. All the things I was using got rid of it a little bit, but it took the Tri-Luma to get rid of the really stubborn stuff. I used it daily at first, but after about 6 weeks, I switched to just using it once or twice a week for maintenance. Between the maintenance level of Tri-luma and protecting myself against the sun (with mineral makeup...I hate sunscreen), my hyperpigmentation is well under control.

Since you asked about your routine...I don't like it at all.

You have sensitive skin, yet these so-called skin experts are having you wash your face with detergent cleansers. The detergent breaks down the natural skin barrier (also called acid mantle) and leave you susceptible to more skin problems and irritation. I think if you chose a better cleanser, one without detergents, you would be more able to handle other active products. I also don't like Obaji products. First of all, the prices are extremely inflated, because people believe the hype, and they aren't cleanly formulated. They contain things that are harmful to your skin, and some of their stuff is too strong. You were right to be cautious about being thrown into the deep end of the pool. I also don't like your moisturizer. It's full of nasty ingredients (and detergents) and emulsifiers that do nothing to moisturize your skin, but are there to make the product seem nicer and sexier. Using something like emu oil, which has anti-inflammatory properties and is non-comedogenic, would probably give you better results.

I could make suggestions for you of cleanly-formulated, yet still affordable, products to cleanse, exfoliate, treat and moisturize if you want. Or, I can just shut up.
Hi RedCatWaves!
Thanks so much for your input here - I'm totally open to suggestions. The only reason I was using the Cetaphil was because it was neutral and commonly available. I forgot to mention in my initial note that I do use my own shea butter cream at night, which I do like!
So, fire away with recs - thanks!
Cleanse: http://dianayvonne.com/product/CSC23_4

This wheat germ oil cleanser is made from castille, not detergent, then has it's PH brought down to neutral with citrus seed extract. It works well, doesn't strip skin, and is safe for the skin barrier.

Exfoliate: http://dianayvonne.com/product/CSE40_4

This salicylic acid 2% is very cleanly formulated and has a low-enough PH that its actually acid. It does a wonder job of exfoliating and cleaning pores. It's a leave-on product. Because of it's acidic property, you should wait 30 minutes after applying before applying anything else, to give it a chance to neutralize.

Treat:

Vitamin C - for healthy glow, hyperpigmentation lightening, and sun damage protection. This is the best one that I know of...it's comparable to Cellex-C or Obaji's Vitamin C products...but this one is affordable:

https://www.psfskincare.com/cgi-bin/...ategory%3DCCCC

Tri-luma: http://medsmex.com/store3/customer/p...&cat=44&page=6

Retin-A: http://medsmex.com/store3/customer/p...&cat=42&page=2

Moisturize: http://dianayvonne.com/product/LB002
and http://dianayvonne.com/product/LB002

Ultra Emu from LB Processors is the very best emu oil on the market. When mixed with hyaluronic acid (a few drops each mixed in the palm and then applied), it makes a perfect moisturizer. The HA helps the emu to penetrate, so it's not greasy on the skin afterward.



The routine would be:

AM
Cleanse with WGO cleanser
gently manually exfoliate any loose skin with a microfiber washcloth
Salicylic acid 2% - wait 30 minutes
Vitamin C
Moisturize
sunscreen and/or mineral makeup


PM
Cleanse with WGO cleanser
Salicylic acid - wait 30 minutes
Tri-Luma - on affected hyperpigmentation areas only
Retin-A - on rest of face
Moisturize

You'd probably have to work up to the Retin-A and Tri-Luma, as they can cause a lot of peeling in some people. Start with once a week, and work up to every-other-day and then every day.
Hi RedCatWaves!

Thanks SO-O much for all the info, plus the links! Are in in the skin biz by any chance? If not, you should be! You've given me a MUCH more workable, as well as both affordable and high-quality treatment program. I've seen medsmex and dianneyvonne mentioned on a couple of other boards as being good sources for stuff. I'm going to check out all three of these right now. I'll keep you posted on how all this goes. Again, thanks so much!
Just a couple of more questions - what sunblock would you recommend to go along with the products you mentioned. Would prefer a sunblock vs. mineral makeup as I don't like the way mineral makeup looks on my skin(had a couple of really bad experiences with it).
And about the emu oil vs. shea butter - which is really better?
Are in in the skin biz by any chance? If not, you should be!

No, I'm not. I'm a former gyn nurse. I've just spent years researching skin care for my own use. I've toyed with the idea of going to school to become an esthetician though.
Just a couple of more questions - what sunblock would you recommend to go along with the products you mentioned. Would prefer a sunblock vs. mineral makeup as I don't like the way mineral makeup looks on my skin(had a couple of really bad experiences with it).
And about the emu oil vs. shea butter - which is really better?
Originally Posted by cara4curls

Shea butter is a great moisturizer, as long as you can use it without breaking out. I prefer emu because I have breakout and oily skin issues.

As for sunblock...I'm no expert on that because I hate them all so much...but I do use them occasionally. I'm told the European sunscreens have more UVA protection than the USA ones. I order from this site:

http://www.skincarecentral.biz/skincare-sun.html
Hi RedCatWaves!
Again, thanks for the sunblock link - I've heard good things about the Avene and Bioderma brands over on MUA too.
I've had good luck with moisturizing with the shea butter - it doesn't break me out. I put together my own formula that has 60% unrefined shea butter, jojoba oil, extra-virgin olive oil, just a bit of vegetable glycerin, and Co-enzyme Q10(the contents of a few gel caps). I've tweaked the formula for several years so it comes out nice and smooth - it's more of a barrier cream(as it has no water in the formula, and was considering adding rosehip seed oil to it. At one time I was looking into producing it for sale along with a body butter that I make, bu this would have taken way too much time away from my art. I was only using the Cetaphil Cream under makeup. But I'll tell you, stuff with mineral oil can sometime make me break out within just a few HOURS of application! At my age my skin isn't really oily anyway. Even as a teen, I would only break out if I had eaten anything with mayonnaise in it(as a teen) and later, if I had used the wrong moisturizer or was PMS-ing. So, I was just somewhat oily - just enough to slow the wrinkling process of age. Considering the amount of sun I've had, I'm amazed I don't have more wrinkles! My half-Sicilian mother had oilier skin even than mine, and it was always clear, smooth, and not much in the way of hyperpigmentation - she used very little in the way of products too.
My half-Sicilian mother had oilier skin even than mine, and it was always clear, smooth, and not much in the way of hyperpigmentation - she used very little in the way of products too.

Some women are just lucky. My Irish/German skin hasn't been so lucky. I was never much of a sun worshipper, but I still have to fight hyperpigmentation. I'm still fairly oily, and many things break me out. I have to be so careful. You'd think at 45, I'd be past most of that, but I'm not.
I am also a Cetaphil user. I just ordered the Emu Oil, Hyaluronic Acid, & Wheat Germ Cleanser. Thanks, RedCatWaves!
AKA lotsawaves
AKA new2curls
"Ultra Emu from LB Processors is the very best emu oil on the market. When mixed with hyaluronic acid (a few drops each mixed in the palm and then applied), it makes a perfect moisturizer. The HA helps the emu to penetrate, so it's not greasy on the skin afterward."

RCW: where do you get hyaluronic acid?
The smallest deed is greater than the grandest intention.

I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul. (Invictus - William Ernest Henley)

Just think I used to worry 'bout things like that,
Used to worry 'bout rich and skinny, 'til I wound up poor and fat,
Nowadays I kind of worry where my mind's been at,
Just think I used to worry 'bout things like that. (Delbert McClinton - I Used to Worry from Never Been Rocked Enough)
"Ultra Emu from LB Processors is the very best emu oil on the market. When mixed with hyaluronic acid (a few drops each mixed in the palm and then applied), it makes a perfect moisturizer. The HA helps the emu to penetrate, so it's not greasy on the skin afterward."

RCW: where do you get hyaluronic acid?
Originally Posted by VTmom


http://www.ingredientstodiefor.com/item.php?item_id=126
RCW - thank you
The smallest deed is greater than the grandest intention.

I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul. (Invictus - William Ernest Henley)

Just think I used to worry 'bout things like that,
Used to worry 'bout rich and skinny, 'til I wound up poor and fat,
Nowadays I kind of worry where my mind's been at,
Just think I used to worry 'bout things like that. (Delbert McClinton - I Used to Worry from Never Been Rocked Enough)
here's an update on my skin situation:

Actually, I had already gotten the Obagi Clarifying serum just before RedCatWaves posted her recs, and have used it 3 days apart(as instructed by my practitioner when I saw him). Anyhow, this is STRONG stuff! For a whole hour after each application, my skin burns somewhat, and is on the verge of itching, particularly yesterday(my third application). And today it feels very dry and rough, but I'm afraid to exfoliate on account of being afraid I'll really irritate my skin. I just don't know if I can really even use this product at all if my skin reacts like this from these very few applications! Is this normal for treatment stuff to do this, or am I just highly sensitive? TIA!
here's an update on my skin situation:

Actually, I had already gotten the Obagi Clarifying serum just before RedCatWaves posted her recs, and have used it 3 days apart(as instructed by my practitioner when I saw him). Anyhow, this is STRONG stuff! For a whole hour after each application, my skin burns somewhat, and is on the verge of itching, particularly yesterday(my third application). And today it feels very dry and rough, but I'm afraid to exfoliate on account of being afraid I'll really irritate my skin. I just don't know if I can really even use this product at all if my skin reacts like this from these very few applications! Is this normal for treatment stuff to do this, or am I just highly sensitive? TIA!
Originally Posted by cara4curls

This is Obaji's version of 4% hydroqinone. Here are the ingredients...

Ingredients:
Each gram of Obagi-C Rx System Clarifying Serum contains Hydroquinone USP 40mg/gm in a base of purified water, cetyl alcohol, glycerin, sodium lauryl sulfate, stearyl alcohol, tocopheryl acetate, asorbic acid, sodium metabisulfite, lactic acid, saponins, disodium EDTA, methylparaben, BHT, propylparaben and butylparaben.

Why in the world do you need detergent in that product? Vitamins E and C are in it, but I doubt the concentrations are enough to do much, plus the Vit C is probably not stable in this concoction. I would guess it's just the alcohol that is irritating you, but I don't know for sure. Could be the lactic acid, but most people don't get too irritated by lactic. Is there any way you can return the product for your money back?
Hi RCW!
Again, thanks for the info!
After I posted my last message, I talked with my medical esthetician about my progress so far, and reactions. He then asked me how much product I was using - turns out that I was only supposed to use 3 drops instead of an inch's worth inside the dropper! I'll be checking in with him after a week on the much less product and same every 3 day schedule to let him know if matters have improved. Right now, my face doesn't feel as dry or sensitive as it did this am. But I'm not due for another application until Sunday.
I just got in my Wheat Germ Cleanser, Hyaluronic Moisturizer, & Ultra Emu Oil. I can't wait to use them tonight.

ETA: I got them all from Diana Yvonne. I love one stop shopping.
AKA lotsawaves
AKA new2curls
RCW,
What is the difference between the Clear and Ultra Emu oil?

The DY site doesn't specify.

Thanks

By the way, I really like the wheat germ cleanser.
Life shrinks or expands according to one's courage. Anais Nin
RCW,

I noticed for the Hyaluronic Acid, DY has 1 oz for $30, while the Ingredients to Die For site has a 1 oz sample for $5 and 8 oz is $20.

Wow, what a price difference. Is the HA from ITDF the real thing?
Life shrinks or expands according to one's courage. Anais Nin

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