Fix your face—Repairing Sun Damage with Lasers

Growing up in the '80s and '90s, having a tan was in and my pale skin was not. I would lie out in the sun each week, covered in coconut-scented tanning oil, hoping that maybe this time my burn would turn into a golden tan. Yeah…it never did. Each time I would turn pink, freckle, and fade back to white.

As I grew older, I turned to tanning beds to get the same effect in less time. At my darkest, I was never tan, I just looked like I actually had pigment. I finally gave up my quest of the perfect tan in my mid-twenties. By then, the damage had been done and I was destined for skin cancer.

My skin as a result of tanning beds. Still super pale.

My skin as a result of tanning beds. Still super pale.

I had my first pre-cancerous spots frozen off my face at 30. After that, I started wearing sunscreen far more often and using the skincare I should have been using in my 20s. I knew that nothing could completely reverse the damage I had done, but when both my mother and sister had skin cancer scraped off their noses last year, I stepped up my game and visited Avahlee Med Spa  in Lehi, Utah for a consultation.

They take a series of photos of your face, showing pigmented spots, wrinkles, texture, pore size, the bacteria under your skin, red areas, brown spots, and the thing I was worried most about…UV spots. My fears were realized when my face was entirely dark. It wasn't just where my freckles and moles were on the surface, it was everywhere. All my fears of potential skin cancer were realized in one photo.

Before images, taken December 7, 2017

Before images, taken December 7, 2017

I knew then that retinol wasn't going to save me. I needed immediate intervention. Pattilynn, the owner of Avahlee, guided me through what she thought would be best to bring as much of that damaged pigment to the surface and remove it for good. A series of laser treatments were scheduled, each about four weeks apart.

Most of the lasers used felt like a rubber band lightly snapping against your skin where others just felt like heat. I have pretty thick skin, so they cranked up the power, but they always started low to make sure I was comfortable.

My immediate appearance varied, based on the laser used and how intense we went. Some of the treatments left me looking like I had a slight sunburn that faded by the end of the day.

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Others created more visible damage. Fractional lasers resurface the skin and work by using tiny pins to safely deliver heat through the surface of the skin using radio frequencies.

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This creates very small wounds, which your body naturally heals on its own. The process works to repair signs of skin damage that are visible on the surface, such as scars from acne or injury, deep wrinkles, enlarged pores, uneven skin texture, and pigmentation.

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Since my main goal was to remove sun damage, we went intense with the Venus Versa™ IPL (intense pulsed light) laser. It delivers precise light through several layers of skin, so wearing goggles is essential.

The light generates heat when absorbed by the tissue, which corrects imperfections without damaging any of the surrounding tissue.

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It results in what they call "coffee grounds." Those super dark spots in the photo below are pigment that will slough off the top layer of skin.

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What happened to my face the day after this picture was taken was pretty unexpected. My skin was bright red and covered in small, hard bumps. I stressed out for a few days, then called Avahlee to make sure I wasn't having some freak reaction.

It turns out I am part of the 3% of people whose skin reacts to this treatment in this way. Lucky for me, that also meant that when those bumps finally cleared in a week, my skin had an even better result than the other 97%.

I was so relieved I could contact Pattilynn directly with my concerns. I placed huge trust in her with my face and she was always ready to answer any questions I had.

When it comes to laser repair for UV damage, it's not always easy to see the improvements on the surface. Viewing the results underneath tells a more complete story.

After images, taken July 16, 2018

After images, taken July 16, 2018

Some things changed dramatically like wrinkles (thanks Botox!), but what I was really curious about were the brown spots and UV damage.

I was pleasantly surprised to see the lightness in my brown spots. They're still there, but there's definitely a difference. (The super dark spots where there's no change are moles.)

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That pigment is a medium depth in my skin, so those spots that are lighter means a lesser chance of skin cancer that was already on its way to the surface.

The UV damage photos don't show a lot of difference, but that's expected. Once the damage is done at the base layers of your skin, you can't remove it, but you can slow down its movement to the surface.

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In total, I had a series of seven facial treatments done, the last three in one visit. I'll probably do the IPL laser once a year to not just resurface my skin, but to continue to keep that UV damage at bay. I'd take the pain of a laser any day over the scars of skin cancer removal.

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Top Picks for the 2018 Nordstrom Anniversary Sale

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They say that December is the most wonderful time of the year, but my happy time is during the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale!

It may seem early, but July is when I plan my fall wardrobe. Its when all the new styles come out full of mustard yellows and olive greens. And the layers? Heavenly.

From basics to extras, I'm sharing my top pics of what I love from this year's sale, available for purchase July 20 - August 5. (Cardmembers have early access from July 12-19.)

Denim

Everyone needs a good pair of flattering jeans. These are a couple of cropped standouts that move from summer to fall when paired with booties.

J.Crew Billie Demi Boot Crop Jeans (Redwood Wash) - $82.90 (after sale, $125)

BLANKNYC The Madison Straight Leg Crop Jeans (Friend Zoned) - $58.90 (after sale, $88)

Skirts

Fall calls for plush fabrics, richer colors, and midi length skirts. Below are a couple of my favorites, both from Halogen.

Halogen Tweed Midi Skirt (regular & petite) - $58.90 (after sale, $89)

Halogen Pleat Detail Midi Skirt (Green Painted Rose, regular & petite) - $45.90 (after sale, $69)

Blazers

Something about blazers reminds me of college. They look "smart" without being pretentious.

Chelsea28 Double Breasted Corduroy Blazer (Rust Ginger) - $65.90 (after sale, $99)

J.Crew Dover Blazer (Navy) - $131.90 (after sale, $198)

Shoes

I think shoes are my favorite since my size doesn't really change. Chunky heels and booties are my weakness for fall.

Louise et Cie Jayant Pump - $79.90 (after sale, $119.95)

Vince Camuto Kentvi Sandal - $99.90 (after sale, $149.95)

Bags

The richness of leather and suede draw me into fall. Here are my two favorite bags from the sale.

Treasure & Bond Remy Pebbled Leather Backpack (Burgundy Fig) - $132.90 (after sale, $199)

rag & bone Suede & Leather Circle Crossbody Bag - $259.90 (after sale, $395)

Beauty

Nordstrom's Anniversary Sale is when I've picked up all my makeup brushes and sets. Companies put together exclusive collections just for this sale.

M•A•C Basic Brush Kit - $52.50 ($172 value)

Trish McEvoy The Power of Makeup Planner Collection (Sunlit Glamour) - $225 ($585.50 value)

Anything on this list you HAVE to have? What's missing from your closet for fall?

My Favorite Finds for Frames

Some of the links I include in my posts are of the affiliate variety. That means if you order from them, I get a teeny portion of your purchase to help run this site. Just wanted you to know! :*

I was blessed with some crazy, allergy-ridden eyes. I can't wear contacts without my eyes throwing a fit, so I have a few pairs of glasses. I'm always on the hunt for inexpensive, but super cute frames, so I decided to branch out from my regular optics shop and try out Warby Parker's Home Try-On program.

The concept is simple. Visit their site and select five different frames you'd like to try on. They ship them to you and you have five days to decide if you love any of them before you return them in the same postage-paid box they arrived in. If you can't live without a pair, just order the same pair from their website. Here are three of the five I chose.

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This pair is the Laurel in Peacock Green. I LOVED the color with my current red hair, but I feel like they're too round for my already round face. Maybe if the eye opening were larger, they would have worked. If you're wondering which frames look best for your face type, go with the opposite shape in the frame as the shape of your face is. My face is long, but also round, so I tend to go for more square or rectangular frames.

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This was probably my favorite pair of the five. This is the Ames in Whiskey Tortoise. See how the wide browline helps balance out my cheeks?

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This pair is the Louise in Elderflower Crystal. The size was borderline too small, but still worked. I thought I'd try these since most of my frames are pretty bold. After seeing them on, I realize I like to draw attention to my glasses. These were just too simple.

After my five days of trying on were over, I decided to stick with my favorite way of getting quality glasses inexpensively.

Here's my trick. Are you ready?

Nordstrom sells reading glasses starting at $38! "That's nice, Jill, but I need a prescription stronger than that!" Don't fret, my pet. Here's the secret...

You can purchase whatever frames you like and take them to your optometrist. Just ask him to put your current prescription in said frames and voila! Affordable, trendy glasses. My vision insurance pays for a new pair of glasses each year, so I only have to pay for my frames.

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This is my current favorite pair: The Brooklyn from Bobbi Brown. They don't have this color anymore, but they do have a lot of other options. Another favorite brand of mine is Corinne McCormack. If any of you remember my leopard-print frames, they're from her!

I love ordering from Nordstrom because if they arrive and you just don't like how they look on you, just send them back or return them to any Nordstrom store. Easy peasy! Also, watch for sales. Every so often, they'll have their reading glasses on sale two for $88. I wait and buy my frames then. I'm all about a bargain!

Be warned, not every optometrist will do this for you. Also, they can't fit every frame. The more curved the glass would have to be, the more difficult it is to create. Basically, try to choose a more straight frame and you'll have a better chance of getting your glasses!

Would you consider an alternative source for your frames?