What is pigmentation? 

Pigmentation is a condition that causes light or dark patches on the skin.

In this blog, we’ll focus on hyperpigmentation. Hyperpigmentation is the appearance of darker patches on the skin. It is relatively common but can be difficult to treat. 

Hyperpigmentation is the over-production of Melanocytes. These are the cells responsible for giving us pigment to our skin. So, too many of them will result in dark patches becoming visible on the surface of the skin.

Credit: Eeva medical clinic

Why do we get pigmentation?

The biggest reason for pigmentation is sun exposure. UV rays damage the skin if it’s not protected with sun cream but may not show up as damage until many years later, typically in your mid 30’s – 40’s. Years ago we were completely unaware of the damage that UV rays caused, so we would spend all day on the beach without sun cream! Hyperpigmentation looks more like blotches on the skin and they can show up all over the body, especially those areas that are exposed to the skin all year round i.e the hands, face, décolleté.

Hormonal imbalance is another reason for suffering with pigmentation. This condition is called Melasma. Melasma comes from within and can appear on the forehead, cheeks & chin. It is triggered by hormonal imbalances such as, pregnancy, menopause, trauma and medication i.e contraceptive pill. Although it is triggered by internal factors it’s as equally important to wear spf daily, as without it, UV exposure can make it more visible. Melasma is much more difficult to treat but don’t give up hope! 

Here are some tips for at home:

Daily SPF

Wear a minimum SPF 30 everyday to avoid worsening existing pigmentation and preventing further UV damage. 

Vitamin C

Use a Vitamin C product everyday. A potent antioxidant that helps to brighten the skin (but don’t expect it to erase dark patches on its own!)

Tyrosinase Inhibitors

Tyrosinase Inhibitors these are enzymes found in the cells that produce melanocytes. Through using Tyrosinase as a cream or serum everyday, we can restore a more even skin tone and reduce the appearance of darker patches by rebalancing melanin production. Common Tyrosinase Inhibitors are Kojic acid & Arbutin acid. Hydroquinone is another inhibitor but one that should come with expert guidance only!

Hydroquinone

Hydroquinone has been known to work wonders for pigmentation but if misused it can make pigmentation worse. It works by bleaching the skin. Make sure you do thorough research before using any Hydroquinone products. Treatment with hydroquinone needs to be led by a skincare expert as excessive concentrations will provoke the opposite desired effect and melanin production will increase. 

Tretinoin

Tretinoin is a Retinoid. It’s more concentrated than Retinol and it can be used to treat sun damage and dark patches when applied topically. 

My Pigmentation Skin Journey

I am about to begin my pigmentation skin journey with Hedox Clinic in London. I will be following their Obagi Medical Nuderm Transformation system and I’ll be sharing my progress along the way! I feel completely in safe hands with Dr Humble and his team.

The Obagi NuDerm system is a transformative, medical grade skincare system. 

To prep my skin for the home care system, I first need to use an enzyme peel to work to remove dead skin cells from my skin so that the targeted treatment products can absorb more deeply and work more efficiently at an accelerated fashion.

I’ll be keeping you all updated with my progress and will show some photos along the way and report any changes.

Other treatments that can help with pigmentation:
  • Micro-needling – this involves tiny needles that create micro traumas under the skin to boost collagen production and trigger the skin’s healing response. Micro-needling will increase cell renewal to repair the skin and reduce the appearance of ageing. Contact me for a Micro-needling consultation or to book a treatment
  • Chemical peels – I’d recommend Kojic acid peels, they work to rebalance an uneven skin tone.
  • IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) – safe & effective for treatment of hyperpigmentation but not Melasma.
Always seek professional advice to diagnose your pigmentation first and make sure you book treatments with skincare professionals. 

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