What Does a Retinoid Do?

What Does a Retinoid Do?

If you’re into skincare, you probably have heard the term, “retinoid” before. But, do you know what it means, or if retinoids are even appropriate for your skin? Let us help you out!

Definition of a Retinoid 

A retinoid is a derivative of Vitamin A. This class of vitamin A derivatives has been used in skin care since the ’70s.

How do they Work?

Retinoids increase cell turnover, so the skin is continually sloughing off damaged cells and healthy skin is always what you see on top. Retinoids also thin the top layer of skin, the stratum corneum, while thickening the smoother second layer, the epidermis, which makes the skin look luminous and firm. Retinoids also help clear dead skin cells, oil, and debris from pores, leaving them less distended; retinoids even decrease oil production—which is great for those who have acne.

What type of skin is it good for? 

You can find a retinoid that can work for your skin, as long as you do proper research.

Dry Skin

If you have dry skin, you’re going to want to use a retinoid that’s hydrating. This means retinoids in an oil suspension.


Sunday Riley Luna Night Sleeping Oil 

Olay Intensive Repair Treatment 

Hyperpigmented Skin

Be careful when using retinoids if you have hyperpigmented skin! Chances are if you have hyperpigmentation, you’re using a vitamin C serum. Vitamin C can make retinoids inactive. Instead, use a vitamin C serum in the morning to prevent further dark spots and a retinol product in the evening to repair damage.


You can use any retinoid you like, as long as you don’t use it in combination with vitamin C.

Not sure if you have hyperpigmented skin? Check out our post to be sure.

Sensitive Skin 

Those with sensitive skin are the most likely group to shy away from using retinoids. But, they can still reap some of the rewards, as long as they ease into it slowly. Start with retinol derivatives (retinyl palmitate, retinyl acetate, and retinyl linoleate) or natural forms of retinol (like chicory root, tara tree, and beggars stick flower), which are all gentler and less irritating.


Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum

Squeeze Green Watery Eye Gel Cream

Acne-Prone Skin 

Retinol is great, but it needs some back-up. Use a face wash with benzoyl peroxide (an anti-inflammatory) or salicylic acid (which helps dry out excess oil) in the morning, and follow up with a retinoid at night, which will help stimulate cell turnover and lessen any post-pimple dark spots.


Differin Gel


What is Vitiligo?

What is Vitiligo?

What is Vitiligo? 

Vitiligo is a long-term skin condition characterized by patches of the skin losing their pigment. The patches of skin affected become white. Often the patches begin on areas of skin that are exposed to the sun. Vitiligo develops when cells called melanocytes (meh-lan-o-sites) die. These cells give our skin and hair color. Scientists do not completely understand why these cells die. One type of vitiligo, non-segmental vitiligo, may be an autoimmune disease. An autoimmune disease develops when the body mistakes a part of itself as foreign. If the body mistakes melanocytes as foreigners, it will attack and kill these cells. Studies suggest that the other type of vitiligo, segmental vitiligo, has a different cause. This type seems to develop when something in the body’s nervous system goes awry.

A few people say that the skin affected by vitiligo itches or feels painful. Living with vitiligo can cause other symptoms, such as low self-esteem and depression that is hard to beat. This can happen regardless of the amount of color loss or type of vitiligo.

Treatments for Vitiligo


Patches of skin that are lighter in color are more susceptible to sunburns and blistering. Use sunscreen to help prevent skin damage.

Immunosuppressant drugs 

Like psoriasis and eczema, scientists theorize that vitiligo may be caused by your own immune system.  Pigment cells in your skin produce melanin, the substance responsible for your own unique and individual skin tone.  When these cells are attacked and destroyed by the body’s own defense system, they stop producing melanin, resulting in the skin becoming lighter, or even completely white!

Drugs that suppress your immune system can have dangerous side-effects, and you can’t use them if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.

Tattooing (micro-pigmentation)

In this technique, your doctor uses a special surgical instrument to implant pigment into your skin. It’s most effective in and around the lips in people with darker complexions.

Blister grafting 

In this procedure, your doctor creates blisters on your pigmented skin, usually with suction. He or she then removes the tops of the blisters and transplants them to an area of discolored skin.

Possible risks include scarring, a cobblestone appearance and failure of the area to recolor. And the skin damage caused by suctioning may trigger another patch of vitiligo.


Nobody really knows for sure how it works, but nobody is really sure what causes vitiligo either, although there are many theories.   Phototherapy is one of the most common and successful vitiligo treatments, resulting in repigmentation of the pale skin patches by stimulating neighboring pigmentation cells (melanocytes) into producing skin color again.  These neighboring cells are often located towards the edges of the affected areas, near the base of hair follicles, or possibly within the patch itself. Phototherapy appears to work by irritating the skin into working properly again.

When prescribing phototherapy treatment, doctors may select either Ultraviolet A (UVA) light used in combination with the drug psoralen, or narrowband Ultraviolet B (nbUVB) light alone.

Generally, patients who respond to narrowband UVB phototherapy can obtain over 90% repigmentation within a year – and without any of the adverse side effects that accompany the use of psoralens!

Talk Therapy 

If your vitiligo is causing depression and anxiety, seek help by talking to a psychologist or psychiatrist.


The Heat And Your Skin

The Heat And Your Skin

If you’re on the east coast right now, chances are it’s hot and you’re miserable. Those of you in the Southwest and South probably already know this, but you need to take special care of your skin in the extreme heat. Whether it’s cold and dry or hot and humid, an area’s climate can really affect the skin all over your body, causing everything from acne breakouts to itchy dry patches. Extremes in weather — both hot and cold — can exacerbate some existing skin conditions or even cause new ones.

We’ll be focusing on what to do when the weather is hot in this post. Stay tuned for what to do with your skin when the weather is cold.



Regardless of the humidity, using sunscreen is so important. The sun’s rays cause about 90% of injury to the skin, which means sagging, wrinkles, uneven pigmentation, thickening, and general signs of aging. Sunscreen works by blocking/reflecting the harmful rays that cause sunburns and skin damage.

Exfoliate, Exfoliate, Exfoliate 

This can help prevent breakouts! When old skin cells start to pile up on the surface of the skin, it can leave skin looking dull, rough, and dry. Also, the build-up of dead skin cells can result in excess oil and clogged pores, leading to breakouts. This gets worse in hot climates. You sweat more, causing more oil. This means that you’re more likely to breakout, especially if you’re not getting rid of dead skin cells and oil by exfoliating.

Check out our post “5 Easy Ways to Step Up Your Skincare Game” for a recipe for a sugar scrub.

Pro tip: If you’re prone to bacne and heat rash, try dry brushing. Dry brushing removes dead skin cells, which prevents clogged pores. Like bacne, heat rash occurs when sweat ducts get closed off, trapping the moisture under the skin and leading to a rash.

For redness and puffiness, try a cold mask 

Heat causes redness and inflammation. That’s why if you go outside for a while, you come back inside flushed and sometimes puffy. You can put a sheet mask in your fridge and apply that to your face, or you could buy a hot/cold gel bead mask. Cold will reduce inflammation, which causes redness and puffiness.


Heat makes you sweat more, which can make you dehydrated. Skin is made up of three layers — the outer layer (epidermis), the underlying skin (dermis) and the subcutaneous tissue. If the outermost layer of the epidermis doesn’t contain enough water, skin will lose elasticity and feel rough. Drink water to help the epidermis get the water it needs. In addition, if you live in a dry climate, consider getting a humidifier.


5 Skin Conditions You Didn’t Know You Could Treat With Light Therapy

5 Skin Conditions You Didn’t Know You Could Treat With Light Therapy

Next time you have a common skin problem, instead of buying creams or other expensive treatments, try picking up your light therapy device to treat it! Here are some common skin ailments that can be treated with light therapy:


A common problem of the summer, rashes caused by poison ivy or poison oak can be itchy, uncomfortable, and can cause scarring! To help combat a rash, try red light therapy. Red light works by reducing inflammation and speeding up healing.

If your rash is accompanied with a fever, or is blistering, make sure you see your dermatologist because those symptoms could mean something more serious.

Keratosis Pilaris

Keratosis pilaris is a common skin condition that causes dry, rough patches and tiny bumps, usually on the upper arms, thighs, cheeks or buttocks. The bumps generally don’t hurt or itch.

Keratosis pilaris results from the buildup of keratin — a hard protein that protects skin from harmful substances and infection. The keratin forms a scaly plug that blocks the opening of the hair follicle. Usually, many plugs form, causing patches of rough, bumpy skin.

Red light therapy can help reduce the redness and inflammation caused by keratosis pilaris.

Bug Bites

Another common and annoying problem of the summer, mosquito bites and black fly bites are incredibly itchy and can be painful. Scratching can cause infection and scarring. Like with rashes, red light therapy works on bug bites by reducing inflammation and speeding up healing.

Stretch Marks 

Stretch marks are reddish, purple or pink (or sometimes brown, depending on your skin tone) depressed streaks that can be found on your breasts, stomach, butt, hips, and thighs. Stretch marks are caused by tearing of the dermis. This is often from the rapid stretching of the skin associated with rapid growth or rapid weight changes. Stretch marks may also be influenced by hormonal changes associated with puberty, pregnancy, bodybuilding, or hormone replacement therapy.

Because a stretch mark is essentially a type of scar, it can be treated with red light therapy. The reason red light therapy works so well in treating scars is that red light has a long enough wavelength to penetrate the epidermis (outermost layer of the skin) and reach the dermis (the middle layer of the skin). This enables it to reach fibroblasts, special types of cells that sit beneath the skin and manufacture collagen – a protein that helps tighten and firm the skin and heal wounds.


Red light therapy works well on wrinkles and to improve general signs of aging because red light tells fibroblasts in the skin to produce more collagen to firm, tighten, and overall improve the appearance of skin.


Psoriasis 101

Psoriasis 101

Were you or someone you know recently diagnosed with psoriasis? We’ll give you the low-down on the basics of psoriasis and psoriasis care.

What is psoriasis?

Psoriasis is an immune disorder that causes raised, red, scaly patches to appear on the skin. These patches are called plaques. It typically affects the outside of the elbows, knees or scalp, though it can appear on any location. Some people report that psoriasis is itchy, burns and stings. Psoriasis is associated with a number of health conditions, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and depression.

There are 5 types of psoriasis: plaque, guttate, inverse, pustular, and erythrodermic.

Why do I have it?

Not too much is known about psoriasis, except that it is an immune disorder and that genetics play a factor. If someone in your family has it, you’re more likely to get it. Psoriasis usually appears for the first time in people ages 15 to 35, but not always.

Some common triggers include:

  • Stress
  • Skin injury
  • Medications
    • lithium, antimalarial drugs, and the high blood pressure medication Inderal are known to trigger psoriasis
  • Allergies
  • Infection
  • Diet

How do I treat it?

The first step is to see a doctor or a dermatologist to confirm that you have psoriasis.  After that, you have many options available to you!

Reduce your stress

Because inflammation is your body’s reaction to stress, it is a trigger for psoriasis. Your immune system responds to injury and infection by sending out chemicals that cause inflammation and help heal a wound. In people with psoriasis, the immune system over-responds—it sends out too many of those chemicals. It is suspected that the immune system responds the same way to mental stress.

You can try meditation, exercise, removing yourself from stressful situations if possible, and seeing a therapist to help reduce your stress level

Manage itch and pain

Psoriasis can be very itchy and painful. To avoid scratching and making it worse, you can try several things:

Topical treatments

This includes a wide variety of options such as lotion, anti-itch cream, and hydrocortisone.

Lotion is recommended because keeping skin hydrated can help the skin heal and reduce itching. Try thick lotions or ointments because they do a better job of locking in moisture.

If you have plaques already, anti-itch cream like calamine lotion can bring relief.  Putting lotions and other topical treatments in the fridge is a great option, too.

Cold showers and compresses

Hot water can irritate and dry out skin, so try to limit your exposure to hot water. Cold showers and an ice pack can calm down redness and irritation caused by plaques.

Prescription treatments

Pharmaceuticals like Cosentyx, steroids, and anti-histamines can work well for people with psoriasis. However, they can have dangerous side-effects like inflammatory bowel disease. This may also not be an option for you if you are pregnant or considering becoming pregnant. Many biologics (pharmaceuticals) cannot be taken if pregnant.

Phototherapy is another option with proven results and safe to use when pregnant. Phototherapy, also called light therapy, involves exposing your body to UV light.

Exposing affected skin cells to UV light through short, frequent sessions of exposure causes the skin cells to die, eliminating or improving symptoms, providing relief from psoriasis for many people.  Although there is no cure for psoriasis, phototherapy treatments help significantly in upwards of 80% of the cases. In addition, red light treats inflammation and can help ease redness and itching caused by plaques.

For more information on light therapy, please visit our products page. 

7 Tips to Stop Hyperpigmentation

7 Tips to Stop Hyperpigmentation

Hyperpigmentation. Chances are that you’ve heard this term before. How do you know if you have it or not? Hyperpigmentation is darkening and discoloration of the skin. Red, brown, pink or even purple-looking spots, clusters or streaks on the surface of the skin are examples of hyperpigmentation. Acne, sun exposure, eczema, psoriasis, and contact dermatitis can all cause hyperpigmentation.

If you have it, what should you do about it? We’ve got you covered.
1.       Red Light Therapy

Red light is a narrow, isolated form of natural light to give the appropriate intensity and wavelength for light therapy. The intensity of red light used in therapy is much higher than you would naturally get from sunlight. And, it’s not damaging like sunlight can be! Sunlight has a wide range of colors, not just red light, that can be damaging to skin after long exposure.

Red light acts as an anti-inflammatory agent, which is part of what causes hyperpigmentation. In addition, red light has a long enough wavelength to penetrate the epidermis (outermost layer of the skin) and reach the dermis (the middle layer of the skin). This enables it to reach fibroblasts, special types of cells that sit beneath the skin and manufacture collagen – a protein that helps tighten and firm the skin and heal wounds.

Check out our red light devices like POLY Go, which is a handheld device. Also, check with your insurance company because some policies will cover the cost of a red light device.

2.       Serums

Serums are concentrated versions of essences designed to treat one problem, like hyperpigmentation. Vitamin C serums have been proven to be effective in reversing hyperpigmentation. Vitamin C gently exfoliates dead, dry skin, calms inflammation and speeds up healing. The removal of old skin and the growth of new skin fade discolorations. Vitamin C also stimulates the skin to make collagen so your face looks firmer with fewer wrinkles and defends against UV rays by thickening the epidermis, the top layer of skin.

If you’re new to serums or have sensitive skin, you may want to start out with a gentler version of a Vitamin C serum: Alpha Arbutin. You can also start using Vitamin C serums mixed in with your moisturizer or go with a lower concentration of Vitamin C serum: 30% is high.

Examples of Vitamin C Serums

Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA from The Ordinary

Freshly Juiced Vitamin C Serum from Klairs

Triple C Lighting Liquid from COSRX

3.) Exfoliation

Exfoliation is used to remove dead or hardened skin cells that can clog pores and lead to acne and dull skin. However, Exfoliants can also remove darkened skin cells in the outer layers of skin, thus lightening hyperpigmentation. Exfoliate two times a week so you’re not scrubbing your skin too hard and causing damage.

Some dermatologists recommend using treatments containing glycolic acid, an AHA that exfoliates the skin and lightens dark patches of skin.

Examples of exfoliants:

African Black Soap Problem Skin Facial Wash and Scrub by SheaMoisture

Brightening Peeling Gel by My Skin Mentor Dr. G

4.) Sun Protection

As mentioned earlier, too much sun exposure can damage skin which causes inflammation and leads to hyperpigmentation. Using sunscreen every day is vital to help to prevent hyperpigmentation and to prevent it from getting worse. Also, if you’re going to be outdoors for 30 minutes or longer, use a large-brimmed hat like a baseball cap or beach hat to keep the sun off of your face.

5.)  Try the New Jade Rolling Trend or Buy Yourself a Cooling Face Mask

Jade rolling is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: You roll a device made out of jade on your face. It helps drain lymphatic tissue, reducing puffiness. Sticking your jade roller in the fridge before you use it has additional benefits because it reduces inflammation, a factor in hyperpigmentation.

It can look kind of scary, but a  cooling face mask that you pop in the fridge or freezer can also have a similar effect. The cool mask helps reduce inflammation.

6.) Change Your Diet

Eliminating sugars and other elements of your diet typically causing inflammation can really help improve hyperpigmentation and help prevent it in the future. And, eating foods that promote skin health can also make a big difference: Some of the best foods for supporting skin health and reducing visible signs of aging include:

·         Berries — Good source of antioxidants including vitamin C and E that protect skin.

·         Leafy green veggies — Great source of vitamin C and phytonutrients that decrease free radical damage.

·         Wild-caught salmon and other types of omega-3 rich fish — Contains astaxanthin carotenoids, which help to reduce oxidative damage and inflammation, while also supporting skin elasticity and moisture.

·         Pomegranates, strawberries, blueberries and cherries — Contain antioxidants, vitamins, phytonutrients and ellagic acid, which help with wound healing and preventing free radical damage or discoloration.

·         Tomatoes — A great source of lycopene, which have natural protective effects against sunburns and reduce free radical damage

·         Egg yolks — Can help form biotin, which supports skin’s cellular structure.

·         Green tea — Contains polyphenols, which have free radical-scavenging abilities. Green tea can also be applied topically to the skin to reduce inflammation.

·         Healthy fats including coconut oil, olive oil, avocados, almonds, flax seeds, walnuts and other nuts/seeds — Help to keep skin hydrated, prevent dryness and reduce inflammation.

7.) Adopt a Good Skincare Regimen and Stick To It

Whether it’s a 10 step Korean Skincare Program or something simpler, having a skincare regimen that works for you is really important in preventing acne, which can cause hyperpigmentation.