Tell us more about your history of hyperpigmentation and how it affected your self-esteem?
My skin tone started changing with the onset of puberty. My face and neck became darker than the rest of my body with lighter patches developing on the side of my neck to my chest. Acne and oily skin kicked in also which felt like a triple attack on my confidence. Secondary was a tough place, especially as I went to single sex school. I was bullied about my skin and called names. I withdrew into myself, didn’t socialise or make eye contact as I didn’t like people looking at me. I hated catching myself in the mirror and rarely looked at a mirror unless it was to clean my face. I spent my teenage years in my bedroom wishing I looked like my pretty friends.
What is your opinion about the link between low self-confidence and the beauty industry?
The beauty industry can be a great place to boost self-confidence when your skin concerns have been matched with the right treatments. However, unrealistic beauty images have created false standards that lead women to feel insecure, anxious about their looks. My clients will send me images of how they want their skin to look after using skin care products. These images have been heavily edited to fit an ideal that doesn’t exist. I feel it's my duty to bring my clients back down to reality and highlight the positives about their skin and features.
You say you fell victim to the use of harsh chemicals to overcome your skincare issues - what did you do to address this?
I did! I used products that caused more damage to my skin as I couldn’t afford to buy more quality skin care, plus I wasn’t knowledgeable enough on skin care and ingredients. At the time, I addressed my skin issues with heavy makeup. I wore makeup 365 days. You would never see me without makeup.
What does the phrase ‘harsh chemicals’ mean? What are they really doing to our skin?
Harsh chemicals such as steroids, high strength skin bleaching agents, high strength chemical peels, that can lead to skin burns & scarring, ochronosis, hypo-pigmentation & permanent melanin damage. I was lucky I didn’t cause myself long term damage.
Are there any harsh ingredients in particular that women with hyperpigmentation should avoid?
Yes, skin lightening products that contain steroids, high concentration of hydroquinone, acids. These types of ingredients should be used with caution in conjunction with professional skin care advice.
What other tips do you have for alleviating skin discolouration?
Use sunblock every day and minimise sun exposure, and use mild acids in your weekly regime. Double cleanse to remove makeup and sunblock.
What do you think about treatments for discolouration, such as laser, intense pulsed light (IPL) or chemical peels?
Generally, IPL and chemical peels can offer great solutions for discolouration. However, dark skin types, i.e. 4, 5,6 (Fitzpatrick scale) should proceed with caution when considering these IPL treatments, as these can cause post-inflammatory pigmentation. Alternative options to treat discoloration can include medium depth chemical peels, microdermabrasion, micro-needling is safe and effective at treating pigment issues and scarring.
For many people with hyperpigmentation, make-up is the answer. What is your advice when it comes to covering up discolouration?
Makeup is a great and quick option for covering discoloration. There are so many options available and prices to suit most pockets. It can be a temporary solution or long-term solution depending on how your discoloration affects you. Makeup was a great saviour for me. However, it added to my insecurity as I couldn’t face the outside world without covering up. I used makeup to hide instead of a tool to enhance my features. People should do what feels right for them.
What is skincare layering, and how do you know which products to use in each layer?
Layering your skin care can be an effective method for treating multiple skin concerns at once. A basic skin care routine for some was just a 3 step process of cleanse, tone, moisturise. Now, it could mean layering up to 6 or more products at once. Layering your products requires following the golden rule of thinnest texture to the thickest texture. Example would be to apply your serums or liquids first, so that these are absorbed by the skin before applying heavier creams or lotions. Thinner products cannot penetrate through the barrier of thicker products. This routine will ensure that you get the most benefit from your products and its intended treatment.
What do you think of Instagram filters and how they portray skin?
Filters have reached such a dangerous place for young girls and also older women. The line between reality and filters is now blurred to the point people actually buy into the images that are being fed to them. I even bought into it as the filters allowed me to look flawless taking away all my skin care issues at a touch of a button. I no longer wanted to use my real unedited pictures. I’m much more aware now as it did affect my confidence and ability to socialise. Filters are here to stay; however, I use it as a point to educate my clients when they send me edited images of their favourite celebrity as a benchmark for skin treatments. I always let clients know that real skin has texture, pores, and what you eat affects your skin.
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