Since moving to Australia, I have been amazed how pigmentation affects so many people. In the UK pigmentation was a rare occurrence, whereas in Australia it seems to be a common complaint.
Whilst so many people experience this we have to understand how it happens, how it can be prevented and how it can be treated.
Types of Pigmentation
There are different types of pigmentation but the two most common are superficial pigmentation and melasma.
Superficial pigmentation generally occurs due to sun damage. This type of pigmentation can be seen in the epidermis (top layer of the skin). Melasma on the other hand could appear due to hormonal change in the skin and shows up similar to an ink stain. This pigmentation is seen in the deeper layers of the skin called the dermis. It is quite stubborn and harder to lighten.
Post Inflammatory Pigmentation (PIH) is another type of pigmentation caused by trauma to the skin. I have treated clients where depilatory creams may have burnt the skin. I have also seen PIH when the skin is not prepped properly before a chemical peel or laser treatment. PIH also commonly appears in darker skin types when sun protection is not used.
Pigmentation occurs when a response is alerted by our cell receptors that there is inflammation or trauma to the skin. The enzyme tyrosinase is activated. Tyrosinase stimulates the melanin production which allows the melanin to travel to the area of trauma. Think of an ants nest in the sand. When you poke it with a stick the ants travel to the surface of the sand. The ants are like the melanin in your skin. Melanin is produced to protect your skin.
However, in many cases we want to prevent melanin from being activated.
Prevention of Pigmentation.
Choose your skincare products carefully. Avoid ones that contain Alcohol and Perfume. When applying perfume be aware that application to the neck area can cause a reaction in the skin which may cause pigmentation. Therefore apply perfume to areas that are not exposed to UV or sunlight.
The following skincare products have been formulated to prevent pigmentation from occuring.
Sun Protection The main prevention of pigmentation is to use a full spectrum sunscreen daily. You should be providing your skin with sun protection to avoid activating the melanin production which is the natural response to protect the skin.
Examples of Full Spectrum Sun protection products.
Vitamin A (Retinol) Retinol should be used at night only. It helps to speed up the cell renewal process therefore it makes the skin work harder which in turn reveals new growth. Retinol is absorbed directly into the nucleus of the cell which will help to inhibit Tyrosinase production. Vitamin A can help push pigmented cells up to the surface making it easier to treat and brighten.
CAUTION: Vitamin A products cannot be used during pregnancy or when lactating.
Vitamin B Vitamin B (Niacinamide) is a pigment brightening ingredient. Niacinamide is an active ingredient that works by decreasing pigment transfer within our skin. As transfer is inhibited, it signals the melanocyte to stop producing melanin. Not only does it decrease skin pigmentation, it also helps strengthen the immunity in the skin and as mentioned pigmentation can be produced when the skin gets inflamed. So if the skin is strong, inflammation is reduced therefore there is no need for an influx of melanin to protect the skin.
Pure Vitamin C Pure Vitamin C, also called L-ascorbic acid, suppresses the formation of skin pigment (melanin) and lightens uneven skin tone.
L ascorbic acid also protects the cell membrane from free radical damage created from UV light. It is a great antioxidant to partner with sunscreen. The benefits of Vitamin C are enhanced by Vitamin E as it helps to protect Vitamin C from breakdown.
Now we can see the benefits of how Sunscreen, Vitamin A, B and C serums work as a team to protect the skin against pigmentation.
Superficial Pigmentation can be helped by using an exfoliating serum. As the skin regenerates an exfoliating serum will slough off the old pigment and brighten the skin. This can be used from three night/day times a week progressing on to daily use.
Pigmentations serums are used to brighten the skin and help eliminate present pigmentation as well as preventing further pigmentation. Their function is to inhibit the production of Tyrsonase (as mentioned previously) which will stop further stimulation of melanin production.
If you are prone to pigmentation and intend on having a treatment such as a chemical peel or laser, it is ideal to prepare the skin with a pigmentation serum at least 2 weeks before the treatment. As peels create a controlled wound in the skin we need to avoid the melanin being stimulated. Using a pigmentation serum will prevent this from happening.
Pigmentation serums are also needed when the pigmentation has reached the surface of the skin. The pigmentation will work to lighten and prevent further pigmentation appearing.
At Time Out Beauty we have various pigmentation serums to suit different skin types.
Mild Pigmentation and sensitive skins. Aspect Pigment Punch: a fast absorbing Pigmentation Serum ideal for all forms of Pigmentation and Age spots. This serum will prevent pigment, inhibit the formation of new pigment. It is brightening with antioxidant properties and also soothing and calming.
Synergie Enlighten is a skin brightening pigmentation serum. It is designed to address skin discolouration and sun damage. For non-sensitive skins you can add Synergie Pure C to Enlighten. Mix a 10-20%of Synergie Pure C crystals to 80% of Enlighten. This will enhance the brightening effect.
Synergie Enlighten contains Chromabright which is a new cutting edge molecule designed to address skin discolouration and photo-ageing.
Ageing and reactive skins. Societe Brightening Serum: this serum is formulated using a patent-pending inhibitor that targets the enzymes responsible for pigmentation and ageing the skin. This serum also manages the enzymes which break down our collagen and elastin, and therefore plays an instrumental role in anti-ageing and skin brightening.
Pigmentation Serums with a built in exfoliator.
Cosmedix Simply Brilliant:this gentle yet powerful brightening serum delivers a triple strength blow to dark spots and other visible discolouration for a more even toned brilliance. Packed with ten plant-based brightening ingredients, Simply Brilliant targets existing pigmentation while preventing new problem areas from appearing. Contains Vitamin B (Niacinamide)
Great to use on all skins, for day and night time use. Particularly for stubborn hyperpigmentation, PIH and breakout-prone skins.
Medik 8 White Balance Click: tackles all 7 routes to brightening and provides an effective solution against all types of pigmentation: dark spots, age spots, freckles, blotchiness, sun damage, uneven skin tone and melasma. Applied regularly, this unique brightening serum visibly improves the overall skin tone. It works on localised pigmented areas and also helps to prevent the appearance of future dark spots. The skin will look visibly brighter and more radiant.
Please note as the above Pigmentation serums have a built in exfoliator it is not necessary to add an additional exfoliating serum product.
To sum it up
The number one protection is a full spectrum sunblock.
Vitamin serums A,B and C work together to protect your skin and prevent your skin developing pigmentation.
An exfoliating serum will help to dissolve dead dull pigmented skin cells on the surface of the skin giving it a brighter look.
Pigmentation serums with help brighten the skin whilst inhibiting the release of melanin.
Time Out Beauty is a specialist cosmeceutical and botanical skincare online store. We stock a wide range of products with free delivery available. We have a Reward Money loyalty program for return buyers. Our brands include Medik8, Synergie Minerals, Waterlily, Societe, Skin Medica, LashesMD, Aspect, Teen Aspect, Colorescience and Cosmedix.