My Skin Journey: From High Tech and Toxic to Acceptance and Gratitude

As women, we want to look good. The skincare industry knows it too. According to the Global Cosmetic Industry website, the United States skincare market is going to reach 11 billion in 2018. That is a lot of creams and serums that many of us will buy in the next 14 months.

As a health coach who is very attuned to the hormonal changes of midlife women, I get it. Our bodies and our facial skin undergoes great changes as we step into the 4th decade of life.

I had beautiful, even toned skin up until I was about 35. Much to my disdain, I started to notice faint brown splotches. At the time, it didn’t bother me that much, but after they started to multiply, I decided to visit the dermatologist.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, I have melasma which is a common skin problem that causes brown patches on the face of over 6 million American women. The exact causes of melasma are unclear, common triggers include sun exposure, pregnancy, birth control pills, and cosmetics. At 35, unbeknownst to me, my hormones were starting to shift. I was entering perimenopause and it showed on my face.

The good thing about skin changes is that they happen very slowly, giving us time to adapt. The bad thing about these skin changes, is well, they can accumulate to the point where you want to do something about it. In my late 30’s I started to casually experiment with things like kojic acid containing skin creams. Kojic acid is considered safe, but sadly, it didn’t work for me.

That ” let’s really  do something about it moment” came at age 42 for me. After trying Tri-Luma which is an FDA-approved cream for melasma to no avail, I decided to do two sessions of IPL, or intense pulsed light. Intense pulsed light ( IPL) is a technology used by medical practitioners to perform various skin treatments for aesthetic and therapeutic purposes, including hair removal and lightening of brown spots.


IPL is a little painful, but bearable. After a 20 minute session of getting rubber band like zaps to my face, I left the office and went home. Within a few days, my brown spots darkened, crusted up and eventually flaked off. In their place, I had almost melasma-less skin for the first time in many years. I was elated. But that elation was short lived because the spots returned after two weeks.Yes, I paid $500 for two weeks of flawless skin. Knowing that melasma is a persistent condition, I scheduled another IPL session. However, while the first time was a charm, the second time was a dud.  The effect was much less noticeable and my wallet was growing lighter. I gave up on IPL because it just wasn’t working.

Next up in my quest for lighter skin, I decided to try “Reverse” from Rodan and Fields. This skincare set is aimed at women with uneven skin pigmentaton. Hello!!— that was me as you can see from the above picture. I used the system, including the “accelerator pack” religiously for 6 months. I am embarrased to admit that even though I knew the HARM some of the ingredients could do to my skin, I used it anyway.

One of the products in the line contains hydroquinone, banned in Europe and considered a “high hazard” ingredient by the Environmental Working Group’s “Skin Deep” database with the potential for organ system toxicity. Thinking back, I cannot believe I swabbed ths stuff over my face and neck (which houses my struggling thyroid) for 6 months. Sigh, the things we do to look better.


I have officially given up on my melasma and have decided instead to fully concentrate on nourishing my skin from the inside out. To that end, I daily eat a pound of colorful fruits and vegetables to get my antioxidants in, I make my smoothies with skin-loving collagen peptides from Vital Proteins and I now use Beautycounter products, which don’t contain hydroquinone or other chemicals to disrupt my hormones.


My skin is looking better than ever although the brown spots are not gone. They will always be with me but they can be nicely covered with the award winning Beautycounter Dew Skin. I am done pursuing high end dermatological treatments and toxic skincare and have decided to focus on accceptance, gratitude and true skin wellness which starts with food and lifestyle.






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5 Responses to My Skin Journey: From High Tech and Toxic to Acceptance and Gratitude

  1. Awesome Maria! Thanks for sharing this. I do have a brown spot as well that have tried to remove it for years as well. But one thing I have noticed is that thanks to my intake of organic food and green juices, the color of my brown spot is lighter. It can be there forever like you mentioned, but I feel my skin is better every day and softer. What works for me is avocado oil, and turmeric paste, but every person is different. Thank you again Maria for creating more awareness and acceptance. In good health and love, Brenda

    • That’s great Brenda. Do you make a paste of the oil and turmeric and put on your skin? I’ve heard of people whitening their teeth w turmeric. Perhaps this lightens melasma spots as well? And yes, I agree, while I dislike my brown spots, I think that overall my skin is healthy looking and it is due to healthy food and lifestyle

  2. Love this article! I had no idea you were dealing with that. Your skin looks beautiful to me! I dealt with acne for years and only started to see improvements after cleaning up my food and products. But it’s still a struggle. I have to be really careful about what I eat, my stress level and what products I use daily. Thanks for sharing your story!

  3. Such a great story, Maria. I’m glad you found something that works for you inside and out, and that you’ve gotten your confidence back! I know how deeply skin conditions affect us. Thank you for sharing.

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