Do you suffer from acne marks and blemishes? Are you starting to get sun spots and age spots? Have you noticed that your freckles have gotten worse as you age? Find out how to improve skin pigmentation and achieve even and fair complexion.
What is Hyperpigmentation?
Melanin is the pigment that gives colour to the skin, eyes and hair. Hyperpigmentation occurs when the skin produces too much melanin, and the excess pigment shows up as dark spots or patches. Some subtypes of face pigmentation are:
- Acne marks and PIH. Post-inflammatory pigmentation (or PIH) appear when any skin injury heals. Acne breakouts are the most common cause, but PIH can also happen after laser treatments and chemical peels.
- Sun spots. Sun spots are caused by sun exposure, and can appear on any part of the body that is frequently exposed to UV rays: the face, neck, décolleté, hands and arms. They are also called age spots or liver spots.
- Melasma. These are grey-brown patches that appear on the forehead, cheeks, and upper lip. The American Academy of Dermatology says the skin condition is often triggered by hormones, which is why it can sometimes be precipitated by pregnancy or thyroid disease.
Sun exposure and Skin Pigmentation
Sun exposure is the biggest reason for pigmentation on face. It can darken acne spots and freckles, and trigger and aggravate melasma.
“Underlying factors such as hormonal changes may not manifest until a person spends more time in the sun,” says Dr. Kourosh, director of the Pigmentary Disorder and Multi-Ethnic Skin Clinic at Massachusetts General Hospital, in a Harvard article on melasma. “The sun is the major exacerbating factor, whatever the underlying cause.”
How to Treat Hyperpigmentation
Sometimes, the excess pigment is limited to the skin surface and will fade naturally. However, more severe hyperpigmentation – such as melasma or large sun spots — penetrates even the lower skin layers. The deeper the pigment, the harder it is to treat. Here is how to get rid of pigmentation on face quickly.
- Topical creams. Spot treatments and brightening masks usually contain ingredients like hydroquinine, retinol, Vitamin C, kojic acid and azelaic acid, licorice and papain (from papaya extracts).
- Chemical peels. Chemical peels contain high concentrations of exfoliating ingredients. By breaking down dead surface cells, these treatments reveal new (and brighter) skin. More powerful peels can also penetrate deeper layers, but may have side effects like peeling, redness and skin sensitivity.
Stay away from home chemical peels that contain a concentration of any acid that is higher than 10%. Aggressive treatments should be done by trained and licensed dermatologists.
- Laser treatments. Lasers emit heat energy that can penetrate deeper skin layers. These can be used to stimulate collagen (for acne scars and wrinkles) or to shatter pigment deposits (for hyperpigmentation).
A statement from the European Academy of Dermatology and Venerelogy that was reported in Dermatology Times cautions that there’s no “one-size-fits-all” laser for pigmentation. Different skin pigmentation issues will need different frequencies and therapeutic treatments. The wrong treatment can actually worsen skin pigmentation, or lead to other complications. Always go to an experienced and trusted aesthetic doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.
- Oral supplements. Some skin supplements claim to treat hyperpigmentation. Be sure to only take those that are clinically proven. For example, Crystal Tomato® supplements contain white carotenoids, has also been clinically proven to improve hyperpigmentation among melasma patients.
Be wary of celebrity-endorsed diet programs that claim to brighten the skin and fight ageing. There is no such thing as a diet for pigmentation on face. Instead, aim for a balanced diet that has the right nutrients and rich in antioxidants from fruits and vegetables. Your body needs this to produce healthy skin cells and maintain a healthy complexion – but food alone is not enough to fade hyperpigmentation.
Sunscreen, Skin Pigmentation and Skin Health
Sunscreen is your best defence against skin pigmentation, and other problems caused by excessive UV exposure, such as premature ageing. UV rays increase melanin production and destroy collagen and elastin. Daily exposure to the sun can make you look years older than you really are. Your skin looks dull and lifeless. You develop dry patches, and over time, your skin texture will become rough and leathery. You develop fine lines and wrinkles. Any dark spots you have will increase in size and become more difficult to treat.
Sun exposure also increases your risk for skin cancer. According to the Australian Cancer Council, 99% of non-melanoma skin cancers and 95% of melanoma are caused by UV radiation.
Sunscreen is an important part of any skincare routine, and is critical for any hyperpigmentation treatment. Ingredients in brightening skincare, chemical peels, and laser treatments may temporarily increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun. If you don’t use sunscreen, your skin pigmentation may actually become worse.
This is why even the simple step of using sunscreen daily is able to make a big difference to your complexion. A Japanese study where elderly people were asked to apply sunscreen for 6 months experienced significant improvements in skin clarity, texture and health (Journal of Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology, 2016). Results showed:
- Less dark spots and skin pigmentation
- Brighter, more even skin tone
- Higher skin moisture content
- Smoother skin texture
How to Choose the Best Sunscreen for Bright, Youthful Skin
Get a broad spectrum sunscreen that protects you from both UVA and UVB rays. UVB rays cause tanning and sunburn, whilst UVA rays – which make up 95% of UV exposure and have a longer wave length – cause premature ageing and sun spots.
Beyond Sun Protection is a breakthrough sunscreen that provides the most complete protection from sun damage and skin pigmentation. It also protects you from other environmental hazards that can weaken your skin and affect your complexion, such as pollution and blue light. A study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology compared women living in urban and rural environments over 24 years and found that those exposed to increased pollution had more dark spots and wrinkling. Another study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology found that blue light causes pigmentation, redness and swelling.
- SPF 75+. This is more than double the minimum recommended SPF 30.
- PA ++++. PA is a Japanese system of measuring how much it prevents UVA rays from turning the skin brown, also called Persistent Pigment Darkening (PPD). The number of plus signs (+) indicate the PA score. Beyond Sun Protection has the highest score of 4 plus signs, which means Extremely High UVA Protection.
- Blue Light. The sun also emits High Energy Visible (HEV) light, which can penetrate into the deeper layers of the skin. It causes oxidative stress, which breaks down collagen and elastin layers. Beyond Sun Protection blocks 54% of Blue Light – the highest in the industry today.
- Anti Pollution. Toxic compounds in the air can irritate your skin and cause free radical damage.
Beyond Sun Protection also has additional skincare benefits. It moisturizes and lightens your skin, helping to treat pigmentation and dry skin, caused by sun exposure.
Clear Complexion, Complete Protection, Comfortable Formula
Beyond Sun Protection can help you fight skin pigmentation and damage caused by exposure to environmental toxins. Its dry-touch formula is also very comfortable to wear all day long, and can be worn under makeup. Wear Beyond Sun Protection every day to prevent face pigmentation and get rid of pigmentation quickly.