After last summer, I began noticing some particularly dark spots on my face, most noticeably under my eyes, along the bridge of my nose, and above my lips (I called it my ‘Jess-stache’). I’ve always had freckles, but these were more like jagged, ugly splotches, and they were getting worse.
I began noticing the spots after Charlie was born, but I think a summer spent running in the sun with little-to-no sunscreen exacerbated the problem. Makeup wasn’t covering them anymore, and I hated looking at my face in the mirror.
Cue one of those daily deal sites, which coincidentally offered me a discounted facial at a local esthetician. I’d never had a facial; maybe it would help?
I instantly liked her and she instantly knew what I was up against: melasma, or hyper-pigmentation brought on by crazy pregnancy/birth control hormones (check out this video of Brooke Burke revealing her melasma on “The Doctors”). And sun makes it worse. I had it in all the typical places, and I had it deep.
She recommended Jessner Peels, a type of chemical peel that somehow breaks down the melasma. I’d never heard of a chemical peel, but she was offering a 3-for-2 special and I figured I’d try it. Moreover, she used Jessners on her face and had incredible skin! Note to self: You’re the perfect, gullible customer.
I finished the third peel last week (you separate each peel by only a month). In summary, they sucked, but they worked. Or maybe I should say “work” in the present tense, because by no means did three peels turn my face into a perfect baby behind. I could probably use another round of three, but I’m happy with the results and, truthfully, don’t want to go through it again.
The process (in my experience):
1) Day 1, Application: The esthetician cleans your face then rubs it down several times with some type of solution that can sting like a mother f***er, depending on your sensitivity. You hold a fan to your face, because, without it, you’d be flailing around in search of a bucket of ice water. I actually did alright; it was easier than 23 hours of labor, I joked.
2) Day 1, Night: Your face continues to sting, and you’re suddenly grateful for that package of frozen peas that’s been in your freezer for six years. You go to bed hoping tomorrow will be better.
3) Day 2-3: The stinging has lessened considerably, but your now-red face (remember, you’re literally burning skin away) begins to harden and shine, and not in a good way. Facial movements prove difficult, and your lack of expression may cause your boss to ask if she’s boring you during your weekly meeting (no comment). Your only relief is applying AquaPhor, which turns your face into an oily mess that gets in your hair and all over your clothes. Your dark splotches get darker and much more splotchy and all you want to do is hide in your closet for the next week, because how can it get any worse?
4) Day 4-6, Peeling: This is when it gets worse. You don’t realize how vain you are until pieces of your skin are sloughing off your face in front of family, coworkers, and business associates. Celebrities who do this (which I’m now convinced they all must) can entomb themselves in their mansions. Us working gals don’t have that luxury. So, you hide at your desk and avoid making eye contact with anyone. You cancel meetings, especially any off site. You become obsessed with snipping the flaky bits off your face before they are too noticeable, and you may find your toddler nibbling on a piece of dead skin that he discovered on the floor.
5) Day 7-8: By now, you’ve had it. Most of the peeling is done, revealing smooth, un-itchy, gorgeous skin, but there are a few stubborn spots that won’t budge. All you want to do is PICK THE DAMN SKIN OFF, but you remember your esthetician’s warnings about scarring. You do it anyway and hope for the best.
6) Day 9-10: You are so grateful to be done, and your skin is looking good. In retrospect, it wasn’t that hard. You’d totally endure it better the next time. Beauty hurts, right?
So you can see why I’m in no rush to go through this again, but I’m happy I did it. My face looks a lot better, and it’s comforting to know there’s a way to battle these skin conditions. If and when we have another baby, this will probably happen again.
These days, I’m taking much better care of my face. I’m using a pigment gel and cream that helps smooth out the splotches (in theory). I’m wearing a special sunblock that contains zinc oxide, which surfers use when they’re out on the water for long periods. I also bought an incredibly sexy wide-brimmed running hat. I’m sure I look silly wearing it, but I actually like it a lot.