Next in our ‘Handy tips’ series, we take a look at … (drum roll please) – pigmentation.
What is pigmentation?
Pigmentation – otherwise known as hyperpigmentation – is the broad name given to patches or spots that become darker than the rest of the surrounding skin. It happens when the skin produces more melanin – the pigment responsible for giving it its colour. It’s a common condition that affects every skin type.
Associate professor of dermatology at George Washington University, Adam Friedman, explains it perfectly, according to an article in Allure: Pigmentation is the result of melanocytes being stimulated to produce a surplus of pigment, “causing them to dump their pigment into lower levels of the skin, like tattoo pigment, where it doesn’t belong.”
Skin pigmentation disorders
Skin discolouration can manifest itself in a myriad of ways. They include:
- Age spots
- Melasma (usually occurring on the face, on women and in darker skin). “[It] typically appears as symmetric blotchy hyperpigmented patches … usually the cheeks, bridge of the nose, forehead, chin and upper lip”, New-York based dermatologist, Sejal Shah, is reported to have said. Melasma is also common in pregnancy, known as Chloasma.
- Post-injury and/inflammatory hyperpigmentation (most common in darker skin)
Image: Robin Jay
What causes pigmentation?
- Sun exposure. The more exposed we are to the sun, the more melanin our skin produces to protect us from UV radiation. The result, of course, is sunspots.
- Skin inflammation, such as acne, eczema, lupus and injury. Inflammation is the body’s way of fighting unwanted intruders, but it can also turn on itself and ravage the skin. Severe trauma may be harder to treat as it can disrupt the bottom layer of the epidermis, causing leakage into – and subsequent trapping – in the dermis (second layer of the skin).
- Hormone changes – common in pregnancy and as a side effect of birth control.
- According to DermNetNZ, side effects may be the cause of 10-20% of all cases!
- Medical conditions, such as the hormone-disrupting Addison’s disease and Hemochromatosis.
- Genetics – thanks mum.
How to get rid of pigmentation
To both prevent the condition or stop it getting worse, there are a number of things you should do:
- Limit exposure to sun. Always wear a hat in the sun and use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 – reapplying every two hours (yes even in winter in New Zealand!). We’re delighted to sell a range of protective sunscreens here at Lovoir Beauty!
- Choose protective makeup. New York City-based dermatologist, Shari Marchbein, recommends choosing products containing iron oxide to help block visible light. And guess what? We also sell a translucent powder with SPF 30, so no excuses!
- Don’t pick! Yes, we know it can be tempting to play with spots on skin, but the more you do so, the higher the chance of developing skin discolouration.
- Natural remedies. Some studies have suggested a range of natural cures, such as:
- Aloe Vera. Aloesin – a compound present in this remarkable plant – may lighten dark spots by preventing the production of melanin in the skin.
- Research points to the anti-inflammatory and skin-whitening effects of glabridin – an extract found in Liquorice.
- Green tea. Is there anything it can’t do? Researchers have long studied the hot drink of the moment for its potential anti-inflammatory properties.
- Vitamin C. Highly effective at brightening skin, this wonder vitamin also increases skin cell turnover, hinders the production of melanin and defends against UV-related damage.
- Topical treatments. There are lots of over-the-counter things you can try – each containing ingredients that help lighten the skin, such as corticosteroids, retinoids and Vitamin C. It may not be a bad idea to regularly use an anti-inflammatory cream, either.
- Procedures: Lovoir Beauty to the rescue once again!
- Exfoliants can help shed dark patches in the upper layer of skin. Check out our range of exfoliating treatments, such as Dermaplaning, Microdermabrasion and O Cosmedics Peels. Psst … A Dermapen special is on at the moment – don’t miss out!
- Available at Lovoir Beauty from October!
Check out our wide range of treatments for pigmentation and book now!
Featured image: lado/Shutterstock