Hyperpigmentation - What is it? & How to Treat it
Now more than ever we know how the sun affects our skin. SPF has become all the range and for good reason. The sun is one of the biggest factors that cause pigmentation changes on the skin but not the only factor. There is a lot of talk about how there is no hope to reverse it, once you get it. Well that is not true at all. Let’s look into exactly what hyperpigmentation is, the ways to help reverse it but most importantly how to prevent it.
Hyperpigmentation is caused by an increase in melanin. Melanin is the natural pigment that gives our skin, hair and eyes their colour. Several factors can trigger an increase in melanin production, but the main causes are sun exposure, hormonal influences, age and skin injuries and inflammation.
What is Pigmentation?
Over time, the natural ageing process and exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun causes the accumulation of pigments in the skin leading to age spots, hyperpigmentation or freckles (Including brown spots, liver spots, age spots, sun spots, sunburn freckles, lentigos, or senile/solar lentigines). Skin pigmentation can also occur during pregnancy due to hormonal changes in the body which can resolve naturally postnatal to worsen.
These marks are located in areas most often exposed to the sun, particularly the hands, face, shoulders, arms, decollate and forehead (and the head if bald) and range in colour from light brown to red or black. Most are harmless, but all are ageing and may be unattractive.
Café au lait and other pigmented birthmarks are localized areas of increased pigmentation in the skin and are present at birth.
What Causes Pigmentation?
Pigmentation does not discriminate and may be caused by any or all of the following factors:
- Sun damage caused by long-term overexposure to UVA and UVB rays
- Vitamin deficiencies
- Medication that causes sensitivity to sunlight
What are the Common Types of Pigmentation?
Hyperpigmentation is the result of excess melanin in the skin often caused by skin damage such as burns or scarring, or UV damage caused by overexposure to the sun. Hyperpigmentation can also be the result of trauma to the face caused by severe acne.
Melasma often appears on the face and may be caused by hormonal changes caused by pregnancy, birth control, overexposure to the sun or ongoing stress.
Can pigmentation go straight away?
No- unfortunately not. It is a gradual process. Pigmentation can be superficial or it can be quite deep within the skin. This means we need to treat the areas sufficiently with a course of treatments and cosmeceutical products at home.
Can Pigmentation be Cured?
Once pigmentation sets in, it can be hard to cure. It is a generally painless condition, so many people learn to live with pigmentation. Because the condition indicates unhealthy cells, however, putting up with pigmentation is a mistake as cellular irregularities may lead to permanent skin damage and even cancer.
There are many products on the market formulated to clear pigmentation and even out skin tone, but these must be used with caution.
Traditional pigmentation lotions may contain harsh acids, retinoids (vitamin A compounds) or ingredients that quite literally bleach the healthy skin cells to reduce the patchy appearance. With many of these solutions’ prescription-only, it is essential that these are used sparingly to protect the healthy skin cells.
As a further concern, the synthetic emulsifiers and activating agents required to make moisturisers work dilute any natural active ingredients meaning that results are often achieved from a concoction of chemicals rather than from natural healing.
What treatments are best for pigmentation?
We have many different treatments at beautology that are great for pigmentation. Until we assess the area we cannot say what is best for your specific concern. However, here are a few treatments that are great for pigmentation.
Enzyme peels, chemical peels, laser treatment, LED light therapy.
A lot of people wonder if there are supplements and foods that can help prevent or reduce hyperpigmentation. Absolutely! It is always good to try and help your skin from the inside out. When it comes to this skin condition you want to be having a lot of foods that are rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants help protect your skin from the pollution in the air that is damaging your skin and they also help with reducing your melanin production. Foods that are rich in antioxidants are broccoli, blueberries, flaxseed, spinach, carrots and surprisingly potatoes. You also want to have citrus like oranges and lemons and any orange colour food, they will be high in Vitamin C which helps brighten your skin. Carrots, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin are a good start. Vitamins can also play a big part of helping your skin from the inside. Vitamins such as C, E, B12 and zinc help your skin produce more collagen while helping slow the production of your melanin.
Our top products for hyperpigmentation:
- Image Iluma Brightening Cleanser - We love this cleanser for a couple reasons. It is oil based when you put it on and then add water to make it milky for a deep cleanse picking up any stubborn makeup and dirt. It also has a brightening blend of olea europaea leaf extract, ascorbyl glucoside, zinc to help fade dark spots and discoloration, leaving you with a more even skin tone.
- Beautycoll Brightening Toner - To keep your skin bright and radiance we always need a hydration boost. That is exactly what this toner does. It has Vitamin B5 which is known as a natural hydrator as well as aloe vera to help really lock in that moisture and to soothe your skin from any inflammation along with keeping your skin cool.
- Image Iluma Brightening Exfoliating Powder - Use this exfoliating powder a couple times a week to help gently buff away those dead skin cells. This is a water activated micro exfoliant to help renew your skin for a brighter complexion.
- Jan Marini Zyme Papaya Mask - A multi purpose mask is what we have here. This mask has papaya enzyme in it to help eat away at the dead skin cells without doing any harm. It is also full of our favourite ingredient for hyperpigmentation, vitamin C to help fade away any discolouration.
- Medik8 White Balance Day Cream - This lightweight, fast absorbing, non greasy, SPF 50 cream is perfect for your everyday use. It will protect your skin from the harsh damaging rays of the sun as well as keeping you hydrated all day long.
- Skinbetter Science Rejuvenate Even tone correcting serum - Did you know that the kakadu plum has the highest concentration of natural vitamin C, that is why this serum is your go to if you have severe brown patches or sun damage. This lightweight serum will help fade away any discoloration as well as evening out your entire complexion.
- PharmaClinix Lightenex - A great post inflammatory hyperpigmentation cream is here and it is full of active ingredients like Azeleic acid, Phytic acid, Liquorice extract, Citrus Unshui peel extract, Arbutin, Dioic acid, Vitamin C, Salicylic acid, and Vitamin E to really help those dark mark left by acne or cuts and burns on the skin.
Love Beautology xxx