What is it? The skins pigment is produced by a specific skin cell, the melanocyte. This pigment, called melanin, is responsible for our skin, eye and hair colour, but it also acts as a natural sunscreen. That’s why you tan in summer. Hyper-pigmentation is caused by excess production of melanin. This is generally triggered by sun damage & inflammation, but certain medications & hormones can also be a cause. Sun damage can result in age spots, but pregnancy or certain contraceptives can also be a trigger.
How is it caused? accumulated oxidative stress over the years leads to damaged pigment cells. They are still functional but in an abnormal manner, causing an overproduction of pigment. Unfortunately if pigment shows on the surface, there is even more trouble hidden beneath your skin. This is why I use the latest in skin diagnosis equipment, which utilises technology to make many things visible including pigment.
How to prevent the onset? Pigmentation can be prevented by the daily application of products that inhibit tyrosinase, an enzyme that controls the production of melanin. Keeping the integrity of the skin intact at all times and avoiding excessively peeling the skin is also vital to preventing pigmentation. Peeling interferes with the skins protection mechanism and increases sensitivity. It is a proven fact that an impaired skin will show signs of inflammation, which will increase ageing and age spots. That’s why my product & treatment philosophy is based on corneotherapy. This is the science of maintaining and improving skin barrier function, thus preventing hyper-pigmentation & premature ageing.
Always cover up and use sunscreen. Try not to expose too much skin and be sure to wear a broad brimmed hat and large sunglasses to cover your skin from the harsh rays of the sun. The less direct sun exposure equates to the reduced risk of pigmentation.
Ingredients which can treat? Keep in mind there is truly no easy fix for this condition, if anyone tells you there is – quite frankly they are telling untruths. The first and most important step is to prevent the formation of further pigmentation & repair an impaired skin barrier. If your skin shows diffused redness, you will have an impaired barrier. This needs immediate attention. Otherwise any hyper-pigmentation treatment will fail, or even worsen the condition.
I focus on ingredients that prevent excessive pigment production working as a melanin suppressor and aiding in breaking up the existing melanin. Ingredients like Vitamin A, Green Tea, Vitamin E to name a few. Another decisive factor for success is a delivery system for active ingredients that will penetrate deep into the skin. My choice is liposomes and nanoparticles which have proven successful in doing so.
Avoid? All products with fragrance or essential oils as they can be photosensitisers and many are known to trigger excess pigment. Only use perfume on your hair or clothes, never directly on your skin & don’t use bleaching agents like hydroquinone as they are toxic chemicals.
Also avoid DIY recommendations which we see on Facebook and in magazines like lemon juice or apple cider vinegar, these have absolutely no effect on melanin production as water soluble substances are unable to penetrate the skin surface. Both are acidic and have a slight peeling effect which is a no, no with hyperpigmentation.
In summary, it is ALL about your barrier function first – optimal skin health is the starting point in the treatment of any pigment condition. This starts with a full Clinical Skin Assessment.
Certified in Oncology Aesthetics (COA)
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