I have struggled with melasma ever since my second pregnancy. Sometimes even referred to as the “mask of pregnancy,” melasma manifests itself as patches of discoloration (brown for me) on the skin. Mine is primarily on my cheeks, and it takes some concealer and a few layers of BB cream (my go to!) to really cover it. I religiously use a moisturizer with a broad spectrum sunscreen, but between the scorching Arizona sun and typical female hormones, it rears its ugly blotchy head anyway. I also have occasional breakouts, so I have minor spots and scarring from that.
WHY A VI PEEL?
I visited Dr. Jeffrey Carls Family Medicine and Aesthetics and had a consultation with Christie Carls. I had never even thought of medically trying to rid myself of the melasma—I just thought I was stuck with it. Christie told me a VI Peel (or two or three) would really help clear it up.
A VI Peel (VI stands for Vitality Institute, the makers of the peel) doesn’t just burn off the top layer of skin, but rather addresses skin problems at the cellular level with the actions of many acids and vitamins. A VI Peel helps eliminate fine lines and wrinkles, shrinks pores, and builds collagen and elastin to tighten skin. It takes those dead layers of skin off so your products actually reach the skin it needs to reach rather than trying to penetrate layers of dead skin cells. And what I was most interested in—it begins to eliminate hyperpigmentation like melasma. What I didn’t expect was such a difference in skin texture. But more on that later.
Let’s get this out in the open. I am days away from my 36th birthday, and while I by no means think that is old, I definitely feel a shift in my hormones and my skin. My youngest is 5, so I’ve been dealing with the “mask of pregnancy” long after I was pregnant. I had my initial consultation with Christie, who talked about taking care of my skin from the inside out—nutrition, water, green tea, sleep. She took scans of my face using her VISIA machine, and my facial assessment definitely showed those brown spots and some wrinkles I didn’t know I had. Here’s My VISIA scan. Oh and I might as well point out that I had a significant acne spot on the side of my nose, so that may have skewed some of the reading.
After making my appointment, Dr. Jeffrey Carls Family Medicine and Aesthetics emailed and called to confirm my appointment. I was able to print out intake forms and have them ready to go when I got there to streamline my appointment time since I was fitting it in on my lunch break.
DAY 1: TREATMENT DAY
I was in and out within 30 minutes. Here I am anxiously awaiting my appointment. Can you see my brown splotches on my cheeks? I smile so people look past it. Really.
The treatment room was softly lit, with lovely spa music playing. It was very inviting and instantly relaxing. I lay down on the treatment table, and Debbie secured my hair with a headband wrap and began to cleanse my skin. The cleansing felt really nice and gentle. Debbie gave me a handheld fan to soothe minor discomforts. While my face dried from the cleansing, she told me about the goodie bag of products I would be taking home and how to apply each product (more on that later!)
VI PEEL APPLICATION
The application wasn’t terrible at all. The initial layer felt like a sunburn, but the fan helped. The smell was pungent, but not unbearable (and sticks with you until you wash this first peel off). After a minute, the burning sensation subsided as she layered on the solution. And that was it. It was easy, only mildly uncomfortable, and over in a jiffy. Honestly, I wanted to just lie there for another hour, but alas. Back to work.
The VI Peel comes with 4 take-home products.
● 3 post peel towelettes: used within the first 48 hours
● 2 packs of cleanser: use morning and night for 7 days
● 1 post peel protectant (anti-itch cream): applied 2-4 times per day starting day 2
● 1 broad spectrum sunscreen: applied 2-4 times per day starting day 2
● 1 care manual
I had my treatment Wednesday because both Christie and all my research reported that peeling usually begins a couple days after treatment. So I blocked off my weekend for optimal at-home peeling time. I didn’t want to go out and scare small children after all.
Four hours after my in-office treatment, I dutifully followed the directions–cleanse & apply the first towelette. It was mildly irritating, but very tolerable. I went about my day and used the post peel protectant whenever I felt itchiness coming on.
An hour before bedtime about 8:15, I cleansed and applied towelette #2. The ladies in the office and my extensive blog reading and YouTube watching told me I’d be itchy, and boy were they right! I could not fall asleep. I kept slathering on the post peel protectant (which is hydrocortisone), but no luck. I tried to fall asleep with an icepack on my face—it felt good, but I couldn’t get comfortable. Finally at 11:15, I washed it off, applied post peel protectant, and blissfully fell into a deep sleep. An interjection here: I found out later I could have used an antihistamine for the itching, like Zyrtec and Benadryl. Next time.
DAY 2: THURSDAY
I woke up feeling great! No itching, no redness, no peeling. After a lukewarm shower, a little itchiness came back, but after a layer of post peel protectant and sunscreen, my skin was feeling totally normal. Day 2 is clearly the sweet spot. In the evening, I cleansed with the provided cleanser and applied the last towelette. No itching. Hooray!
DAY 3: FRIDAY
I started peeling mildly midmorning. I periodically applied the post peel protectant and the sunscreen, and I wasn’t uncomfortable at all. Rubbing in the product helped to slough off the dead skin quite a bit. I didn’t take a picture, anticipating major peeling later.
What's it like to get a skincare consultation with us? Watch the video to learn more.
DAY 4: SATURDAY
I woke up with only slight peeling still. The big peel never came today. I kept moisturized and out of the sun. I did start noticing lightening of the melasma.
DAY 5: SUNDAY
Today was more light shedding, softer skin, sun and heat sensitivity. I shopped, went out to eat, and didn’t scare any small children.
DAY 6: MONDAY
After washing my face Monday morning, I noticed a significant shift in my skin texture. It was that mythical baby skin feeling. I also felt a tightening around my eyes. Even my husband claimed I was glowing.
DAY 7: TUESDAY
I have run out of the VI cleanser, so I just used a mild castile soap. I have also started using my own face products again, though I haven’t yet used my eye cream with retinol in it. I figured I’d give that another week. I can still feel the new skin when I go out in the sun, though it is not irritating any more. I have a tiny area along my hairline by my ear that is mildly shedding, but as long as I keep moisturizing and occasionally using Aquaphor (my go-to for all things skin dryness), it is not irritating. I definitely feel a new tightness, and when I applied my BB cream this morning for the first time in a week, it went on smoother and more evenly, and I used less product. By the evening, my neck was finally shedding, but I never had any major sheets of skin peeling off.
I really like the results. I think I would need one or two more peels to see the melasma disappear, but I love the baby soft feel and the tightness. I also really like that I use less product, and I know my expensive skin products are making it to the dermis.
Here is an after shot. You be the judge.