Treating skin discoloration is a big business in spas and skincare clinics and is growing tremendously by the day! The rise in photo-aging is caused by the sun and environmental exposure and the impact of technology and electronic devices and the HEV (high energy visible light) we are exposed to 24/7. During the pandemic, millions of people were in front of computer screens all day – every day. The increased exposure to computers and electronic devices is generating a LOT of concern for our health and how this affects environmental aging.
Recent research has indicated that HEV light generates similar amounts of reactive oxygen species as UVA and UVB rays combined. HEV light exposure can lead to inflammation, compromised melanogenesis, sensitivity, dryness, wrinkles, uneven skin tone and texture, and sagging skin…it turns out that our cellphones, microwaves, wi-fi routers, and other appliances and devices send out invisible streams of energy that surround us daily. Yikes!! Since the beginning of time, the sun has sent out waves that create electric and magnetic fields (EMFs) – radiation. When the sun sends out EMFs, we can see the energy radiating out, especially on very hot days. This invisible energy and the potential impact on us is a subject all unto itself. It is an area of study everyone should become more educated on to protect your skin and health. It is our “new normal.”
Physicians, aestheticians, and consumers are searching for skin care solutions to brighten and minimize blotchy skin and hyperpigmentation. They are wading through the quagmire of conflicting information that floods the internet with treatment approaches and ingredient information that leaves even the most seasoned skincare enthusiast jaded and bleary. Traditional skin lightening agents such as hydroquinone, corticosteroids, and laser treatments can raise several safety concerns. As an example, ochronosis, pigment flash-back, skin atrophy, and systemic toxicity. When you combine this with the rising rate of inflammatory skin conditions consumers experience, it leaves consumers and skincare professionals very conflicted about safely and effectively treating this condition.
With the recent safety concern regarding the use of hydroquinone, the need for alternative natural, safe and efficacious skin lightening agents is becoming all the more necessary. The quest for healthy ingredient alternatives and the exploding green beauty market have flooded the professional skincare world, and new trends are emerging all the time.
With this in mind, the quest for healthy ingredient alternatives and the exploding green beauty market have flooded the professional skincare world, and new trends are emerging all the time. Unfortunately, there is too little education available on herbal and plant medicine science, and too often becomes marketing hyperbole.
Let’s take a deeper dive into nature’s ingredient apothecary and look at some exciting botanicals that have specific effects on skin discoloration:
]Pure Bearberry Extract for Skin Lightening is effective in treating sun-spots, age spots, and melasma. Derived from the Uva Ursi plant leaves, bearberry extract is a botanical skin lightener with the active agent arbutin. It can help your skin tone appear brighter while helping to get rid of dark blotches. (Photo credit By Sten Porse – Own work)
Solomon’s Seal has a unique photocomposition. When studied under lab conditions, we will list only those that appear to aid in maintaining youthful, healthy skin: This fascinating plant is rich in steroidal saponins, polysaccharides, flavonoids, and allantoin is chronicled throughout its’ history of medicinal properties. Herbalists and Native Americans alike have written about how redness and discoloration of the skin due to environmental exposure is almost magically reduced and reversed using a tincture or steam distilled concentrate of the entire plant.
“Licorice is also a natural skin lightening agent because its extract contains an active called Glabridin, which inhibits tyrosinase, the enzyme that causes pigmentation in response to sun exposure.”
White Birch Bark (Betulinic acid)
Chemist Pavel Krasutsky calls it nature’s pure “white gold”… Betulin, a powdery substance in the outer bark of the birch tree, has been shown to help wounds heal faster and cut inflammation. The extract of birch bark is a compound called Betulinic acid, which is being tested to treat melanoma and other serious diseases.
Betulinic acid has been explored as a potential treatment for skin cancer for more than a decade. Betulin, its derivatives, and other birch bark compounds are also tested for effectiveness in treating HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which can cause severe cold-like symptoms and pneumonia.
Therapeutic levels of white birch bark extract derived from the bark of the white birch tree extract are believed to help decrease the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles by maintaining the skin’s natural levels of firming collagen and elastin. In test-tube studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago, researchers found that the Betulinic acid in white birch disrupted the activity of human melanoma cells. The impact of this research and its effect on environmentally damaged and discolored skin is awe-inspiring, to say the least, and is an ingredient to look for in effective topical treatments for sun-damaged skin.
This beautiful plant named for its reputed ability to aid a number of women’s problems, from heavy periods to sagging breasts, lady’s mantle also boasts a reputation for lightening and softening skin. Widely used in folk medicine, it is now better recognized for its skin regenerating properties. By Photo by and (c)2007 Jina Lee
Niacinamide is one of the most extraordinary skincare ingredients with multi-functional clinically proven activity, non-sensitizing, and well tolerated by all skin types, even rosacea. Niacinamide minimizes pigmentation by disrupting the action of one of the key enzymes required for the production of melanin. Additionally, niacinamide helps prevent the production of keratin which increases the thickness of the epidermis. Niacinamide is known as vitamin B-3 and is a component of the vitamin B complex group used for skin concerns.
Pumpkin is packed with fruit enzymes and natural alpha-hydroxy acids, which increase cell turnover, to brighten and smooth the skin. Pumpkin contains antioxidants Vitamin A and Vitamin C to help boost collagen production to prevent the signs of aging. The pumpkin enzymes make it a safe and very effective exfoliator. Pumpkin enzymes make for a safe and very effective exfoliator and chemical-free skin brightening treatment.
Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid Polypeptide)
A potent antioxidant, our vitamin C is derived from citrus fruit and is in an ascorbic acid polypeptide form that’s highly stable in contrast to synthetic vitamin C. Upon application, it penetrates to the melanocytes, which produce the protective pigment known as melanin. Melanin is reduced to a colorless substance, inhibiting the formation of freckles and age spots. Beta-glucan protects the skin’s moisture barrier, stimulates collagen production, and promotes cell turnover. Ascorbic acid is one of the protective substances involved in capturing or neutralizing free radicals formed upon exposure to U.V. radiation. Vitamin C is widely used in dietary supplements. Its dermatological and cosmetic use has been inhibited due to its lack of stability in the vehicles employed in products. This important use can now be implemented based on the availability of this form of Vitamin C, the stable form of ascorbic acid.
I’ve studied the use and application of herbal medicine and its use for aging and problem skin conditions for over 30 years, and I never cease to be amazed at how powerful some of these plant roots, extracts, and infusions can be in professional skincare. Herbalism has a long tradition of use outside of conventional medicine and has become more mainstream as improvements in analysis and quality control along with advances in clinical research show the value of herbal medicine in treating and preventing disease. Plants and herbs have been used for medicinal purposes long before recorded history. They are now more mainstream than ever as consumers search for healthy alternatives to drugs and invasive procedures.
The holistic approach I use in my private practice for pigmentation issues incorporates Dermaplaning, Nano Channeling, Apple Wine Acid Peels, and Celluma LED Light Therapy – alternated in an intensive 6-week treatment series with a targeted home protocol. This protocol includes niacinamide, biopeptides, and Pumpkin Wine Enzymes, alternated in an intensive six-week treatment series with a targeted home protocol that includes niacinamide, biopeptides, and Pumpkin Wine Enzymes. UV protection is NOT optional in the quest for brighter skin, and Zinc and Titanium Oxide are the ingredients of choice to reflect harmful UV rays.
A targeted home care program that begins with deep cleansing and detoxification and targeted plant-based skin lighteners is how I get results.
I encourage you to expand your perspective and explore the incredible healing power found in nature and get to know some of the most effective ingredients found in nature. There are two of my most favorite resources I want to share with you. Get outside, explore, and discover medicine right underneath your feet! Here are two of my favorite sources.
Practical and Herbalism by Dr. Philip Fritchey
The Scientific Validation of Herbal Medicine by Daniel Mowery
“My Passion is Your Solution”
Founder/CEO Sunshine Botanicals