According to Goldman Sachs, the makeup industry alone grossed over $20 billion in 2017. Many of those products were liquid, cream and powered foundations engineered to cover uneven complexions. In fact, certain cosmetics, such as IT Cosmetics, center their entire lines on covering both dark spots and facial redness. With millions of women seeking these products to cover up their concerns, why aren’t more seeking treatment options to actually correct them? It’s time to stop covering up the problem and get even with Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)!
“Many of the patients I do consultations with for brown spots and redness don’t even realize that treatments exist to help correct them like IPL,” shares Amie, a Licensed Esthetician and Certified Laser Technician at Face Cosmetic Skincare. “They’ve been using makeup to cover the dark spots for years and don’t understand that sun exposure can even make them worse,” she advises. “I love that a simple series of IPL treatments can make such a dramatic improvement to their skin’s their appearance!”
While many of us think that wrinkles are the #1 visible sign of aging, studies point to uneven skin tone and discoloration as being the true culprit in making us look older than we are. Years of unprotected sun exposure can manifest itself later in life as unattractive dark spots on face, chest, hands and blotchy redness and broken blood vessels. These can make our complexions look muddy, uneven and dull. Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) treatments are the gold standard in the esthetic industry to restore even, youthful coloration to your skin!
How does IPL work? Unlike traditional lasers which utilize a single beam of light to target a specific skin concern, IPL administers several wavelengths of light to the skin at once. Different wavelengths of light are attracted to different components of your skin. This diversity allows IPL to safely target brown discolorations (hyperpigmentation) and eliminate redness. Both visible dark spots and pigment below the skin absorb the energy from this pulsed light, while clear and healthy tissue remains unaffected. Spots initially become darker over the days following treatment, eventually flaking off. Once cleared, a more even and radiant complexion is revealed.
IPL treatments are generally performed by a Licensed Esthetician who has extensive experience as a Certified Laser Technician. Before your treatment, she will discuss how to properly prep your skin for enhanced results and care for it following your IPL. It is important to have no active tan before your treatment, as this may cause complications. Your Laser Technician will also need to know if you are currently using any prescriptions that could increase your sensitivity to light, like some antibiotics. It is also recommended that you avoid the use of any strong skincare ingredients such as retinol, glycolic acid and hydroquinone before your IPL. If you suffer from frequent cold sores, a medication may be prescribed to you to take before your treatment to prevent a possible outbreak.
Before your IPL, your skin will be thoroughly cleansed and a cooling gel will be applied to the treatment area. During the treatment, you will feel a series of small, fast snaps against your skin accompanied by a bright flash of light. Your eyes will be protected during treatment. Many patients describe the sensation of IPL as a light snap of a rubber band, with the midface and nose being most sensitive.
Immediately following your treatment, your skin may feel like you have a mild sunburn. You may also notice that dark spots look darker and that they have multiplied. Don’t worry! This is a good sign, as the IPL has pulled deeper damage to the surface of the skin. It is important not to pick or scratch these areas, as you may damage the emerging healthy skin beneath. A daily SPF of at least 30 is recommended to protect your skin and prevent future damage.
“I tell my IPL patients that the dark spots will get DARKER before they flake off,” emphasizes Amie. “It almost looks like your skin is covered in little coffee grinds for a few days after treatment,” she continues, “it’s really important not to pick at or scratch these areas, as you may damage your skin.” She goes on, “IPL can also be used on other areas of the body like the hands, chest, shoulders and even legs; basically, anywhere you have sun damage!”
If the focus of your IPL treatment was to treat redness/vessels, you may notice some slight greying of these vessels, slight welts and tenderness. Cool compresses can be applied to these areas and symptoms will subside in a few days. Eventually, you will notice that overall redness decreases and individual vessels disappear. It is important to discuss our social calendar with your Licensed Esthetician, as you may want to schedule your IPL around important events.
Most patients note dramatic improvement with one IPL, but as some of our damage may not be at the surface of the skin yet, a series of 3, spaced 4 weeks apart is recommended. IPL is also a fantastic treatment to schedule on an annual basis to compensate for any damage acquired throughout the year. If you lead a very active outdoor lifestyle in the summer, it is recommended to schedule your IPL treatments in the fall and winter for the safest results!
Tired of covering up dark spots? Schedule a consultation with a Licensed Esthetician / Certified Laser Technician at Face Cosmetic Skincare to discuss IPL. Call (651) 632-9700 to schedule!