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Having healthy and radiant skin requires a consistent routine of proper care and hydration as well as good habits like eating healthy, avoiding the sun and getting adequate sleep. It also means using products that are suitable for your skin type as well as targeted treatments to correct your specific skin concerns. While over the counter skincare gets the job done in general, sometimes certain conditions can benefit from prescription skincare because they are classified as “drugs” and contain proven ingredients in higher concentrations that are designed to treat medical conditions like acne, dark spots, and sun damage.
For example, hydroquinone is well known as an extremely effective ingredient to treat melasma and hyperpigmentation. Hydroquinone works by reducing the production of melanin to slowly lighten dark spots. Hydroquinone is only available by prescription. And retinoids derived from vitamin A are highly lauded because they can be useful for a wide range of issues including acne, aging, texture, hyperpigmentation. They work by stimulate cell turnover and increasing the skin’s collagen production so they can also help to reduce fine lines and wrinkles. Over the counter retinoid products include retinol-esters, retinols, and retinals. Prescription products are tretinoin and tazarotene. While OTC retinoids typically work well for most people, prescription retinoids have a distinct advantage because they are already active when you apply them as opposed to non-prescription products which require a conversion process to activate the formula that turns it into a retinoid. This means they are more potent and will work quicker.
I’ve often talked about how dark spots are my most vexing skin concern and I have tried many different types of products and treatments to fade them with varying degrees of success. The one thing I haven’t tried until now is prescription-strength skincare. I’ve partnered with Musely and I tried out their Spot Cream with Hydroquinone and Anti-Aging Night Cream with Tretinoin.
Launched in 2019, Musely was originally an online skincare tip community that evolved into the home of FaceRx an online skin-care prescription service that makes prescription skincare easily accessible and more affordable for everyone. They have a staff of board certified dermatologists and offer a range of prescription medications that treat common skin conditions like melasma, hyperpigmentation, aging, and more. Their telehealth style provides a level of convenience and access to care since it eliminates the process of having to schedule an appointment to go see a dermatologist to get a prescription and then having to go get the prescription filled.
So to get started, I completed a quick virtual doctor visit on the Musely app which can also be done on their website. The online medical questionnaire asked about my skin type, concerns, allergies and goals. I was also asked to upload 3 photos for evaluation. After doing this, I received my prescription along with a message from Dr. Marie Jhin with an explaining why she prescribed these formulations and usage instructions in less than a half an hour. My prescriptions were then freshly compounded by the pharmacist and shipped to me in a few days. It was a simple and streamlined process. The fee for the doctor’s visit which is not included in the prescriptions is $20.
The Musely app has an eNurse function that supports each individual during their 60-day treatment period. You check in on a daily basis for the first few weeks and eNurse will provide advice if you are having any issues. If you have questions or concerns you can also message your doctor on there. The tips and suggestions they offer is helpful and the tip community is a nice resource for sharing and learning.
Musely The Spot Cream
$70 – (1 fl oz./30 mL) which is a 2 month supply
The Spot Cream works to treat melasma, hyperpigmentation, sun/age spots, acne scars and discolorations. The prescription correcting treatment with hydroquinone fades dark spots and brightens the complexion. The Spot Cream is available in four formulations with active ingredients in varying concentrations- Erase, Nurture, HQ+ Free (with tranexamic acid & azelaic acid instead of hydroquinone) and M+. The doctors determine each individual’s prescription based on their skin condition and medical history. Dr. Jhin prescribed The Spot Cream Nurture without vitamin C to be used twice a day. She explained that this was based on previous skin sensitivity issues and my not having used hydroquinone products before.
- Hydroquinone 6% – fades dark spots by preventing the formation of excess melanin in skin
- Niacinamide 2% compound – reduces inflammation, improving smoothness and skin structure
How To Use
I was advised to use The Spot Cream first for 1-2 weeks twice a day so that my skin could adjust to the new treatments. Follow with moisturizer and always use sunscreen.
The Spot Cream is packaged in a heavyweight opaque white plastic bottle with a pump dispenser.
I started using The Spot Cream as directed and initially experienced some sensitivity and dryness after about 4 days. Following the eNurse advise I cut back my usage to just once a day until it eased up. After my skin started getting used to it, I had less issues and I would also follow with a generous application of a thick moisturizer as suggested. For me that is my old favorite Weleda Skin Food. Irritation issues popped up again once I added the tretinoin cream to my evening routine but I’ll talk more about that in my review of that product below. I didn’t notice any fading of my dark spots immediately but The Spot Cream needs time to work. According to Musely, results usually take about 6 – 8 weeks of use. I would say that I could see a difference on my hyperpigmentation and sun spots after about 5 – 6 weeks and I’m quite satisfied with what I’m seeing so far. There has been some visible fading in my upper cheek area which is a trouble spot for me. And I haven’t been using any other products or doing anything else other than making sure I use sun protection and avoiding the sun in general.
Musely The Anti-Aging Night Cream
$70 – (1 fl oz./30 mL) which is a 2 month supply
The Anti-Aging Night Cream is a prescription grade anti-aging retinol treatment customized for the user. A formulation of tretinoin, hyaluronic acid, and niacinamide works to effectively treat wrinkles and fade sun damage. The Anti-Aging Night Cream comes in 3 formulations in varying concentrations- Gentle Balanced, and Veteran. The doctors determine each individual’s prescription based on their skin condition and medical history. Dr. Jhin prescribed Anti-Aging Night Cream Gentle for me. This is the starter formulation with the lowest amount of tretinoin since this is my first time using this ingredient and I mentioned experiencing some minor irritation with retinol before.
- Tretinoin 0.025% – speeds up the skin cell turnover process to treat wrinkles, acne, and more.
- Niacinamide 4% – a potent antioxidant that helps tone and repair the skin
- Hyaluronic Acid 0.5% – helps skin to retain moisture to reduce loss of elasticity and aging
How To Use
I was advised to use The Spot Cream first for 1-2 weeks twice a day so that my skin could adjust to the new treatments and then add the anti-aging tretinoin Night Cream on alternate nights. Apply The Spot Cream first, wait a couple minutes then apply The Night Cream. Follow with moisturizer and always use sunscreen.
The Anti-Aging Night Cream is packaged in a heavyweight opaque white plastic bottle with a pump dispenser.
As directed I didn’t start using The Anti-Aging Night Cream until 2 weeks after starting The Spot Cream. I would apply it a few minutes after The Spot Cream followed by my moisturizer. I’ve had sensitivity issues with retinol so I knew I could expect it with tretinoin as well. As my skin was going through the retinization process which is the skin’s adjustment to the treatment that can cause irritation such as dryness, redness, peeling and flaking, as well as trigger acne breakouts. This is a possible side effect of all retinoid products but the increased potency of prescription tretinoin makes it even more likely. I had expected this and experienced all the side effects so I took a break and went off the tretinoin for a week and slowly worked it back in. As my skin got used to it, I was still experiencing some minor irritation but I also began seeing a difference in the texture of my skin. I noticed that it had become smoother and more luminous and this happened much faster than with over the counter retinol. And when used in combination with The Spot Cream, I think it has amplified my results. And my skin looks plumper and more even toned overall. I definitely understand the advantages of prescription skincare now.
I’m impressed with the ease of the Musely telehealth process and the level of support they offer on their platform. And I like that their customized prescriptions are freshly compounded and conveniently delivered direct to my door. As far as their products, I think my results so far speak for themselves after getting past the initial adjustment period. I’m so happy with the lightening of my darks spots I’ve seen so far and look forward to continuing my journey. The Spot Cream and The Ant-Aging Night Cream are available through Musely. If you’ve been curious about prescription grade skincare, I would recommend Musely as a good place to start because they make the process simple and affordable. Most importantly their products work.
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