brightening therapy for an even skin tone

March 12, 2013

PCA SKIN’s Brightening Therapy® with TrueTone is clinically proven to promote an even skin tone in all skin sensitivities. The breakthrough formulation contains an innovative blend of natural and engineered brighteners that even skin tone in all skin types and ethnicities.

Brightening Therapy with TrueTone by PCA SKIN

Brightening Therapy with TrueTone by PCA SKIN

The formulation also contains calming agents and is even gentle enough to be used around the eyes.

Key ingredients include:

Phenylethyl resorcinol – a synthetically produced resorcinol derivative that is part of TrueTone. It provides antioxidant protection, and studies have demonstrated the ingredient has results comparable to kojic acid and hydroquinone with no irritation.

Alpha arbutin – a part of TrueTone, this is an effective antioxidant, skin conditioner and evens existing skin tone.

Undecylenoyl phenylalanine – is a synthetic brightener that is part of TrueTone.

Glycosaminoglycan (GAG) – effective matrix metalloproteinase inhibitor (MMPi) that protects the skin from environmental damage.

White birch bark extract – provides potent calming benefits due to high concentrations of betulinic acid.

Brightening Therapy® with TrueTone can be used on the entire face or to spot treat areas of discoloration on the face or body. The combination of brighteners and calming agents help to create luminosity in the skin. However, treatment outcomes can be maximized with the use of multiple ingredients and multiple products for visible results. Our other daily care products, such as Pigment Bar® or Pigment Gel® and A&C Synergy Serum®, work synergistically with this formulation to safely and effectively even skin tone. And don’t forget to use daily broad spectrum sun protection with an SPF of at least 30 year-round to maintain an even skin tone.

Have you used Brightening Therapy® with TrueTone yourself or with a patient? How do you feel about this product? Comment below or tell us on Facebook.


myths/truths about chemical peels

March 7, 2013

When patients hear the words “chemical peel” they have many different thoughts as to what the actual outcome will be. Due to a lot of misinformation readily available on the internet and in the general media, chemical peeling can make people nervous. It is the clinician’s responsibility to explain treatment outcomes and why they may vary. Discussing patient expectations during the initial consultation to clear up any misconceptions surrounding chemical peels ensures a positive experience for both the patient and the clinician. Our philosophy incorporates a progressive, rather than aggressive, approach. This way, patients will experience little or no downtime following a peel, yet still achieve outstanding results.

PCA SKIN's peels are self-neutralizing, leaving patients with little to no downtime following treatment.

PCA SKIN’s peels are self-neutralizing, leaving patients with little to no downtime following treatment.

myths and truths

  1. Skin should “peel” after having a peel treatment – As clinicians, many of us have had the experience of treating a patient with a chemical peel, after which they come back to you and say, “Your treatment didn’t work because I didn’t peel.” Visible exfoliation doesn’t determine the efficacy of treatment. Generally, healthy skin has less visible exfoliation. Exfoliation often takes place at the cellular level and is not always apparent to the naked eye. Conversely, some patients’ skin is so impacted that it can take a few peels to loosen dead cells enough to allow them to shed. Typically, these patients will see little or no peeling initially, and then see sloughing after a few treatments. Using analogies that a patient can relate to can be an incredibly useful tool when explaining to a patient why they may not peel. For example, feeling drowsy after taking pain medication is a side effect, just as peeling is a side effect to a chemical peel; some people may feel drowsy when taking the medication and some may not, just as some may experience exfoliation from a peel and some may not – either way, the efficacy of the medication or peel is not contingent on the side effect.
  2. My skin is too sensitive for a chemical peel – Sensitive skin is defined as a heightened intolerance to topical products or external factors. Sensitive Skin presents itself as red, irritated or scaly. PCA SKIN utilizes ingredient blends to combat sensitive skin presentations. Our philosophy follows the low-dose approach; meaning, inducing the least amount of trauma to the skin to achieve optimal results. Sensi Peel® is formulated primarily for extremely sensitive skin types. This multi-faceted treatment also provides calming and soothing properties and helps to clear follicle debris, making it an excellent choice for helping sensitive skin types. Hydrate: Therapeutic Oat Milk Mask was strategically formulated to soothe and hydrate impaired skin conditions of all kinds. Oat milk is also a potent antioxidant that effectively manages dry or sensitive skin conditions.
  3. All peels must be neutralized – Straight alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) peels, such as glycolic and lactic acid, require neutralization with either water or a weak base like sodium bicarbonate. Unfortunately, the neutralization process can free hydrogen and, therefore, reactivate the acid and increase the heat sensation and discomfort in the skin. This increases the potential for negative outcomes and side effects. However, peels such as the Jessner’s and trichloroacetic acid (TCA) peels, and retinol treatments do not require neutralization. The water and lipid content in the skin leads to self-neutralization of the aforementioned acids. PCA SKIN combines AHA acids with TCA or Jessner’s peels, along with ingredients like retinol, salicylic acid, antioxidants and calming and soothing agents in bases that provide excellent delivery systems. The synergy of these ingredients is such that the peels are self-neutralizing, allowing for maximum effectiveness with little or no downtime.
  4. It’s fine to hit the gym after having a peel – The epidermis is comprised of several layers and when a chemical peel is applied, even if it’s very superficial, it can cause a separation of these layers. Any activity that induces heat and sweating, either from a work out, an athletic activity or sitting in the sauna, can cause water to become trapped between the epidermal layers. This may result in blistering and, depending on the severity of the blistering, lead to an uneven skin tone. Another reason to stay cool following a peel is that internal heat can also lead to uneven skin tone. PCA SKIN recommends remaining cool for 48 hours post-peel to avoid any heat-related complications post-treatment.
  5. Acetone is best to prep skin for peels – Skin must be clean and degreased to maximize penetration of chemical peel solutions. While acetone is often used because it is a strong and biocompatible solvent, it is not ideal for pre-peel prep. Acetone not only removes excess sebum that hinders peel penetration, but it also over-strips skin of essential cholesterol and lipids. This can leave skin overly dry post-procedure and last for weeks following treatment, causing undue discomfort for patients. The lactic and citric acid base of Smoothing Toner provides an astringent that gently and effectively removes any remaining sebum and debris post-cleansing, without drying out skin.
  6. My patient can expect the same outcome each time they receive a peel – The amount of visible exfoliation depends on current skin conditions, combined with atmospheric conditions like humidity, which may cause flakes to adhere to the skin more so than in dry climates. Further, there may be a lot of visible exfoliation after the first treatment and less for the second, but this does not mean the first treatment worked better than the second. Moreover, someone who has previously had peel treatments may not have as much visible exfoliation as someone who has never or rarely gets treatments, as these patients will have more build-up. Everyone has a different tolerance for peels and that tolerance tends to grow with every treatment.
  7. Peels are not indicated for drier skin types – A well-formulated chemical peel minimizes the amount of impacted skin cells lying on the surface of the skin while delivering hydrating, firming, strengthening and brightening ingredients into the skin. Once the skin is free of the dull surface layer, any products applied topically will penetrate better, leaving skin healthy and hydrated. PCA SKIN’s elegantly blended peels offer options for all Fitzpatrick types and skin conditions.
  8. Frequency of treatments is not important – Regular in-office treatments are critical to maintaining optimal skin health. We recommend basing frequency of treatment on the condition. Uneven skin tone may be treated every three weeks and acne (all types) may be treated every two weeks. Sensitive skin may be treated every four weeks, while aging skin may be treated every three weeks.
  9. A daily care regimen and sunscreen only matter if I have problem skin or I’m out in the sun all day – Along with receiving regular treatments from a clinician; a patient’s daily care regimen is just as important to maintaining skin health. Patients must manage their own skin at least twice a day; that’s 60 times in any given month vs. a single monthly treatment from a clinician. Therefore, one professional treatment won’t be beneficial if the patient is not doing his or her own part on a daily basis to maintain the health of their skin. Further, using a broad spectrum sunscreen is especially important post-peel as the procedure sensitizes skin to the sun. Remember, peels work at the cellular level and are still working long after you’ve had the treatment. Thus, it’s important to incorporate sun protection into your daily care regimen.
  10. Peels are safe for patients with vitiligo – Vitiligo is an autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks its own pigment-producing cells (melanocytes), resulting in areas of depigmented skin. Because its presentation is on the skin, it makes sense that patients would think that chemical peels would help to “even out” skin tone. This, however, is untrue. Because this is an autoimmune disorder, treating it topically with a chemical peel will have little to no effect. While chemical peels are not the recommended course of action, there are other prescription medications and therapies available.

PCA SKIN originated advanced blended chemical peel formulations. Our vision is to improve people’s lives through our professional treatments for healthy, beautiful skin. PCA SKIN treatments and products are available exclusively through licensed skin health professionals that have been trained and certified by PCA SKIN.

If you have any questions about chemical peels, feel free to contact our highly trained team at 877.PCA.SKIN [722.7546] or email us at

ethnic skin treatment considerations

February 14, 2013

In further observance of Black History Month, we’d like to provide information about the uniqueness of ethnic skin. Skin color is primarily determined by melanin, a pigment produced by cells called melanocytes. While everyone has the same number of melanocytes, ethnic skin produces more melanin. There are physiological differences between lighter and darker skin, and those with Fitzpatrick types IV and above are prone to certain skin conditions. Understanding these distinctive characteristics is essential to successfully treating ethnic skin.

Patients with higher Fitzpatrick types have different treatment options than lower Fitzpatricks.

Patients with higher Fitzpatrick types have different treatment options than lower Fitzpatricks.

hyperpigmentation and scarring

Melanocytes are more active in those with darker skin, which may lead to more severe reactions from common conditions. This results in skin discolorations such as hyperpigmentation and melasma. Hyperpigmentation can be caused by skin damage from wounds or rashes that leave dark marks as the skin heals. Increased or uneven pigmentation from melasma tends to be more prevalent in ethnic skin. Higher Fitzpatrick types are also at greater risk of keloids (raised scar tissue) from skin injuries.

acne and PIH

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) is the result of any type of cutaneous inflammation, such as acne. Higher Fitzpatricks have larger sebaceous glands, leading to more oil production. This often presents as comedones and papules. Comedones in darker skin display significant inflammation, often resulting in PIH.


Studies show the stratum corneum in higher Fitzpatrick types contains more layers and has been shown to be thicker and more compact. The dermis of higher Fitzpatricks takes longer to break down and exhibits fewer visible signs of aging. In general, those with darker skin tend to look up to 10 years younger than other ethnicities. However, transepidermal water loss (TEWL) tends to be greater in the skin of higher Fitzpatricks, making moisturization all the more important to prevent the skin from appearing “ashy.”

skin cancer

Many people of color often don’t use sunscreen as sunburn is rare. While dark skin provides some built-in protection from ultraviolet (UV) light, even the darkest skin color cannot protect against all UV-induced DNA damage. All Fitzpatricks should use a broad spectrum sunscreen daily. Although skin cancer is less common among people of color, it is likely to be more deadly once it presents as it is usually not diagnosed until advanced stages.

sun sensitivity

Many drugs can increase sun sensitivity, which can result in skin discoloration. It’s especially important to apply sunscreen or avoid the sun altogether when taking certain medications. These include birth control pills, antibiotics and anti-acne drugs, as well medicine for high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.

vitamin D deficiency

Sunlight stimulates skin to produce vitamin D. Darker skin offers better protection from UV light, but can result in vitamin D deficiency. Research shows that dark-skinned people living at relatively high latitudes have inadequate vitamin D levels. Health authorities recommend daily vitamin D supplements for people of color.

Feel free to call us at 877.PCA.SKIN [722.7546] or email us at with questions about treating ethnic skin.

PCA SKIN celebrates black history month

February 12, 2013

In honor of February being Black History Month, we wanted to focus this blog on treatments that are great choices for ethnic skin types. Many consumers may not know that chemical peel treatments are safe for people of color. PCA SKIN understands that everyone’s skin is unique and many of our treatments and products are safe and highly effective on ethnic skin.

Male Clinician

The following are appropriate for all Fitzpatrick types:


Sensi Peel® – This gentle solution is a blended trichloroacetic acid (TCA) treatment formulated primarily for ethnic skin. Lactic and l-ascorbic acids help to hydrate and strengthen, while kojic and azelaic acids brighten skin. Arbutin additionally helps even out skin tone.

Smoothing Body Peel – This two-step treatment combines TCA with lactic and salicylic acids to smooth and hydrate skin.

Note: The PCA Peel® with Hydroquinone and PCA Peel® Hydroquinone free can be used on Fitzpatrick types I-IV or I-V, respectively.The Ultra Peel® I can be used on Fitzpatrick types I-V.

Peel Alternatives

Detox Gel Deep Pore Treatment – This solution blends lactic, glycolic and salicylic acids to effectively penetrate pores and dissolve blackheads.

Oxygenating Trio – This three-step treatment combines alpha and beta hydroxy acids with superoxide dismutase and hydrogen peroxide to stimulate cutaneous oxygenation and rejuvenate stressed skin.

Therapeutic Masks

Hydrate: Therapeutic Oat Milk Mask – Utilizes oat extracts to remedy dry skin conditions, taking hydration to a new level.

Revitalize: Therapeutic Papaya Mask – Combines an active blend of papaya, honey and fruit extracts to revitalize skin.

Clarify: Therapeutic Salicylic Acid Mask – Combines 20% salicylic acid to clarify dull complexions.

Note: The Retexturize: Therapeutic Pumpkin Mask can be used on Fitzpatrick types I-IV.

Boosters and Enhancements

Esthetique Peel or Ultra Peel® II – Either optional retinoid booster may be used post-treatment for all peels, peel alternatives and masks.

Replenishing Gel and Calming Balm – These enhancements may also be added to any protocol for additional protective and soothing benefits.

Treatment outcomes can be maximized by learning the art of customizing with PCA SKIN’s multi-faceted corrective daily care products.  Always complete treatments with ReBalance and protect skin from harmful UV rays with the appropriate SPF product depending on skin type.

Remember that gentle treatment delivers more dramatic and consistent outcomes. Healthy skin naturally glows from the inside, resulting in beautiful skin!

Feel free to call us at 877.PCA.SKIN [722.7546] or email us at anytime with questions about treating ethnic skin.

skin discoloration is not always a small problem

January 23, 2013

The most common types of hyperpigmentation that patients come to skin health professionals to treat are facial skin discolorations. Facial hyperpigmentation might be the most noticeable to many, but skin anywhere on the body can be affected. The hands, forearms, chest, back and legs can all succumb to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) and sun-induced hyperpigmentation. Although not common, melasma, or the mask of pregnancy, can form on the forearms due to hormone fluctuations.

When creating daily care regimens for patients looking to achieve an even skin tone on larger areas of the body, spot treatment serums can be cost-prohibitive. An excellent option for treating larger areas of discoloration is the Pigment Bar® from PCA SKIN®. This cleansing bar enhances and supports any of the PCA SKIN pigment control daily care regimens, and can be used by all skin types, conditions and sensitivities.

Pigment Bar from PCA SKIN

Pigment Bar from PCA SKIN

This formulation highlights a synergistic blend of azelaic acid, kojic acid and niacinamide that work together to calm skin and promote a bright, even skin tone. It is gentle, easy-to-use and cost effective.

Daily use of a broad spectrum sun protection product with an SPF of at least 30 year-round is critical to achieve and maintain an even skin tone. Even those that are good about their daily facial SPF use often overlook protecting the skin on their bodies from sun exposure. Always remember to protect any skin that will be exposed to UV rays every day, not just when participating in outdoor activities.

If you have any questions about Pigment Bar® or any other PCA SKIN product for uneven skin tone, call us at 877.PCA.SKIN [722.7546].

hydroquinone: facts and fiction

January 18, 2013

At PCA SKIN® we pride ourselves on being a reliable educational resource to both clinicians and consumers. Skin health professionals come to us with questions – even if they don’t carry our products – because they know we are able to sift out the noise and hype surrounding the skin health industry. This blog will be a little longer than most, because the subject and confusion surrounding the use of hydroquinone (HQ) remains constant, and we hope to give you information to educate both you and your patients.

Hydroquinone, photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Hydroquinone, photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Hydroquinone (HQ) has been used in the cosmetic industry ever since it was first discovered during World War II. In September of 1982, the FDA stated within their monograph that HQ was deemed safe to use for three months. There are no specifics as to why, other than if there were positive results, then they would be obtained by the end of the three month increment.

Now, to define a couple of terms, “monograph” is in essence a “rule book” that the FDA utilizes for drug ingredients that are available to the consumer – these are called “over-the-counter drugs” or “OTC.” In lower percentages, many drugs are available to consumers OTC, such as hydrocortisone, salicylic acid and HQ, to name a few. These monographs are put into place to keep consumers safe when using ingredients outside of a physician’s care that are considered to be a drug.

In 2006, the 1982 monograph was withdrawn and there currently is no monograph for HQ. So far, studies have been conducted only on the safety of orally administered, high doses of HQ in male and female rats, and female mice over extended periods of time. It was determined that more studies needed to be performed. Clearly, this is not how HQ is used in the skin health industry.

Today, we must follow the original 1982 monograph until there is another in place. That being said, PCA  SKIN has one OTC HQ product for daily care use – Pigment Gel®.  This is a formulation with a blend – much different from using a single ingredient – of HQ, kojic , lactic and azelaic acids, and phenylethyl resorcinol. Our recommendation is to use this product for up to three months. If one of the following occurs, these guidelines should be followed:

  1. If your pigmentation is relieved, then switch over to another PCA SKIN product that contains other pigment-inhibiting ingredients for maintenance. Should the pigment return, the three month cycle may be started again.
  2. If your pigmentation is not relieved, then stop using the HQ and switch over to another PCA SKIN product that contains other pigment-inhibiting ingredients; if the pigmentation is still present, the condition may be beyond the scope of OTC percentages and ingredients, and a physician may need to be consulted.

Before we end this blog, it is also important to know that  HQ has not been banned in other countries; it is, however, regulated. This means that in some countries all percentages of HQ require a prescription – even 2% – which is still available OTC in the United States. In the United States, any percentage of HQ that is higher than 2% does require a prescription.

Many people may want to know how HQ functions within the skin when used topically. HQ has been proven to induce what is called “melanocyte-specific cytotoxicity.” This means that it is able to “seek out” melanocytes (cells responsible for producing pigment) that are not functioning properly and eliminate them, while leaving the functioning melanocytes alone. This does not mean it is cytotoxic (toxic to cells) to all of the cells in our bodies; it is only cytotoxic to the melanocytes that are not functioning properly.

Another interesting fact is that our bodies convert coffee and tea into HQ within our bodies!

We hope this helps you and your patients to have a better understanding of this ingredient. We are available at 877.PCA.SKIN [722.7546] from 7:00 am – 6:00 pm Monday through Friday, Arizona time, should you have any questions about this or any other concerns surrounding our products.

frequency of treatment for optimal results with PCA SKIN®

June 22, 2012

As clinicians we want to provide the best possible treatments for our patients’ skin. Once we have figured out which professional treatment or treatments will best suit the client, we must then figure out how frequently we can treat them. PCA SKIN’s philosophy follows the low-dose approach; meaning, inducing the least amount of irritation to the skin to achieve optimal results.

PCA SKIN recommends basing frequency of treatment on the condition.  For the best results, follow these guidelines:

Uneven skin tone may be treated every 3 weeks – If you treat uneven skin tone every two weeks, you are causing too much irritation; if you treat uneven skin tone every four weeks, you are allowing pigment to be deposited again into the keratinocytes.  By treating uneven skin tone every three weeks, you are suppressing the melanocyte from producing more melanin and, lightening the already darkened cells as they rise to the surface of the skin, which will minimize the appearance of the discoloration as you are treating it.

Acne (all types) may be treated every two weeks – If you treat the acne every week, it can cause too much irritation, and if you wait every three or four weeks, this gives the P. acnes bacteria more time to proliferate.  By treating acneic skin types every two weeks, you are staying ahead of the bacteria production while minimizing the appearance of future breakouts and encouraging the healing process.

Sensitive skin and rosacea may be treated every four weeks – Because the skin is already irritated in most sensitive skin situations, treating it more frequently than every four weeks will cause too much irritation.

Aging skin may be treated every three weeks – Aging skin types are usually also combating uneven skin tone. Treating the aging patient every three weeks not only manages the hyperpigmentation, but keeps the skin hydrated and infused with firming and plumping ingredients.

Ultimately, the goal is to have our patients come in on a once-a-month basis for skin health maintenance.  Also, we must stress to each of our patients the importance of daily care in conjunction with regular in-office treatments.

PCA SKIN provides daily care and professional in-office treatment products to address all skin types and all skin conditions, as well as live technical support.  Call our team at 877-722-7546 with any treatment and patient questions or concerns between 7:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. Arizona time.