At some point last year I was chatting with my facialist about our mutual experiences with acne in our mid to late teens which got us talking about ZO Skin Health. There’s nothing quite like acne to make you hyper-pedantic about your skin, noticing every large pore, scab, scar and discolouration on your face every time you look at yourself in the mirror. Despite both of us suffering with acne scarring for most of our adult lives, it’s difficult to find a longer-term solution without resorting to intense sessions of microneedling or C02 laser.
She mentioned her dermatologist had recently given her a prescription grade retinol cream by ZO Skin Health, the renowned cosmeceutical skincare brand set up by Dr Zein Obagi, one of the most recognised names in the industry. His concept is simple: skincare, but powered by science. The brand, established in 1997, became the number one physician-dispensed medical skincare brand in the EU by 2016 – no easy feat in a market full of big name competitors. The leading edge? ZO specialises in everything for all skin-related concerns, focusing on 4 specific areas:
- Therapeutic – treatments that address specific skin conditions and diseases
- Maintenance – programmes tailored to extend the benefits of therapeutic treatments
- Prevention – products to protect skin from intrinsic aging and future damage
- Daily skincare – regimens to keep skin active and healthy
Interest thoroughly piqued, my facialist then proceeded to show me the progress with her scarring. I couldn’t believe my eyes! Her pores, especially on her cheeks, were much smaller and her scarring/marks were barely visible. She told me this was only after 3 months of religiously using ZO retinol. After that, I knew I had to give the brand a go.
Regents Park Aesthetics
This wonderful skin clinic on London’s Wimpole Street are specialists in ZO Skin and its principles. I went in for a skin consultation with Natasha McDade, a therapist with over 25 years of experience in aesthetics. The compact and cosy clinic feels less clinical and more like a bright, friendly place in LA/somewhere sunnier than the UK. Despite being downstairs, the rooms are full of white light with accents of teal and silver.
Natasha sits me down and asks me about my skincare regimen, which products I use, and then takes a closer look at my skin after gently washing and cleansing it. She explains the ZO Skin Health process and how the focus should be more on preventative and maintenance measures when it comes to skincare – I couldn’t agree more.
She suggests I come back for a patented ZO Medical 3-step stimulation Peel, but given it can be pretty intense, I should introduce my skin to some active skincare products over the course of a few weeks ahead of the peel so my skin doesn’t freak out when I do get the peel. So far, so good. She also introduces me to Kay Greveson, the owner and aesthetic nurse of the practice who also has a look at my skin and agrees the 3-step peel would be good for my skin.
The ZO 3-step peel
Fast forward a few weeks and I am back in the tranquillity of the clinic, and Kay cleanses and preps my skin with ZO products before carefully applying the chemical peel. Now, it’s worth noting I’ve never had a chemical peel before. And they sound scary. This specific peel is a medium-strength peel that combines 10% TCA (trichloroacetic acid), salicylic acid, lactic acid and high-dose retinol (6%). Which equates to a LOT of active ingredients on your skin.
The active ingredients cause the skin to react in an extreme manner, usually with what looks like burns (which is why sunscreen is so important at any time of day), which then peel off, revealing smoother, brighter skin underneath. Patients of any skin type and colour can do it, but it’s mostly for those who require a more potent skin peel but with minimal downtime: The adverse reactions to the peel should go down within 3-5 days. The aim is to treat fine lines, sun damage, dull skin, Melasma, acne, and uneven texture concerns.
I have been told previously I have a high pain threshold but the experience can be quite uncomfortable, even for someone like me. The peel burns upon application (which I found ok, just made my eyes water) but the thing that made it unpleasant was the intensity of the smell. It smells deeply chemical and sulphuric, but the whole experience only lasts about 10-15 mins, dependent on the size of the area being covered. In fact, many may prefer the sensation versus more intense treatments like Fraxel laser or deep microneedling.
Kay then talked me through the aftercare process, which involved lots of sunscreen and healing ointment, the latter of which is provided as part of the treatment. After the redness subsides, the “burn” areas will start to heal and then start peeling from your face. It is important not to interrupt the peeling process and make sure to use the ointment as often as possible. Also try to avoid using make-up or any strongly perfumed creams in the first few days following treatment – your skin is incredibly sensitive at this time and needs to be able to breathe. My peeling lasted around 5 days in total, with the most burnt bits under my eyes and around my nose taking the longest to heal.
A full 7 days later and my skin was as smooth as silk with an additional glow that really can’t be replicated with over-the-counter products. My skin looked fresh, happy and radiant. I was comfortable enough with it to go make-up free for the first time in years. In conjunction with the prescription-strength retinol I’ve been using, I have no doubt my skin will be in a better place going forward.
ZO products definitely do work, but the important factor here is to choose practitioners that are experienced and knowledgeable about the full product range and can give you a personalised routine following a consultation. These products work so well because they are prescription strength, and you want to be able to trust your aesthetician with providing the best advice for your particular skincare situation and address all of your concerns. I would definitely recommend Kay, Natasha and the ladies at Regents Park Aesthetics for all things ZO and beyond – they also specialise in C02 laser, skin scanning, and other injectable and non-injectable face and body treatments too.
To discover more, visit: regentsparkaesthetics.co.uk
All imagery courtesy of ZO Skin Health / Regents Park Aesthetics.
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