For anybody who has had to deal with hyperpigmentation before, you’ll know it sucks. Not only is it hard to remove and as annoying as seeing your ex-boyfriend is dating a Cindy Crawford look alike, but once it’s there it’s also something you’ll forever have to work on/be mindful of – because it doesn’t just disappear.
Seriously though, today I wake up every morning and think IF ONLY I could turn back time and run outside WITH sun protection/NEVER visit a solarium and REFUSE to lay out in the sun for a tan. IF ONLY.
(Why do solariums exist lord Jesus why!)
But alas, my sins have been committed and now I’m reaping the benefits (Jokes. I meant to say I’m paying the price.)
Anyway, of course I’m being dramatic. My pigmentation isn’t too bad. I do like to dramatise stuff plus I’m in my third trimester so everything feels like the end of the world. However, I am also currently dealing with spots of melasma (pregnancy induced pigmentation) following my growing two humans inside my torso, sooooo maybe IT IS the end of the world?
*Cries like a psycho pregnant person.*
*Looks for ice-cream.*
Watevs though… babies are cute and I plan to laser the shiz out of my face post breastfeeding, so will chat about that a little more later. But for now let’s chat a little more about what exactly hyperpigmentation is and how to fix it.
Because… what is hyperpigmentation exactly?
WELL to put it simply it’s darker pigmentation than the surrounding skin. The patches can be light brown to black in colour and can vary in terms of size and shape. Freckles, age spots and post-acne marks are all examples of hyperpigmentation and it tends to affect areas of skin that are consistently exposed to the environment such as the face, hands and décolleté.
Medik8 Formulation and Development Director, Daniel Isaacs says “hyperpigmentation occurs when melanin – the pigment that gives skin, eyes and hair their natural colour – is overproduced in certain areas of the skin. The exact cause of this activity is unknown, which is part of the reason why hyperpigmentation can be notably difficult to treat. But in most instances, the condition can be attributed to three main categories:
Melasma is a condition that is thought to arise as a result of imbalanced hormones. It presents itself in large, dark patches, rather than small spots, and is usually symmetrical with matching patches on both sides of the face.
This is why some women may begin to notice dark patches appearing when they are pregnant or while they are using hormonal contraception. You may have heard it referred to as the mask of pregnancy. (This term was coined due to the fact that the condition affects around 90% of pregnant woman.)
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation or PIH is what develops when a scrape, rash, breakout or other wound causes your skin to become inflamed. As the skin heals, it sometimes produces too much melanin, and it’s the excess melanin that darkens and discolours the skin. This discolouration remains even after the wound has healed. Darker skin types are especially vulnerable to PIH. This is because melanin is much more present in darker skin, and therefore much more susceptible to irregularity.
This typically refers to age spots (or liver spots as they are otherwise known). This kind of hyperpigmentation is caused by sun damage. Despite the name, age has nothing to do with the condition and anyone can be affected at any time in their lives. Interestingly, age spots do not necessarily appear at the same time that the skin is afflicted. (Often you will find that sun damage accumulated in the 20s can start to surface in the 30s or 40s.)
Daniel adds that many people believe that there is a quick fix for hyperpigmentation. Unfortunately though, this idea is very far from the truth.
“Hyperpigmentation is a condition that affects multiple layers of skin and as such, it is extremely difficult to treat in a quick manner. A consistent skincare regime that incorporates brightening actives and sunscreen is the first step, and at times this will need to be accompanied by more advanced treatments such as chemical peels, laser treatment and microneedling.”
WHICH IS WHY PREVENTION IS KEY!
Seriously, I actually think that pigmentation is worse than wrinkles and can make you look older too. SO like anything to do with anti-ageing and preventing even more hyperpigmentation forming, the easiest way to do this is by avoiding getting it in the first place.
Simples. (The pain!) But how?
Well, staying out of the sun is key. And if you can’t do that then wearing sunscreen, re-applying it like a crazy person and always wearing a hat will be the way to go. Because you know what? All pigmentation is made worse by sun exposure.
Melasma on the other hand, does have the potential to clear up once your hormones are rebalanced.
“After giving birth or stopping contraception melasma can take a few months to a year to fade entirely,” Daniel Isaacs told me.
(PHEEEEEW. So maybe it isn’t the end of the world.)
AND if you’re prone to blemishes it’s important to not pick at your skin! (FOR F’s sake!)
“Even when an extraction is performed correctly, it can still deepen the inflammation of the pimple, which can significantly increase the likelihood of hyperpigmentation as well as making it worse,” Daniel says. “Post inflammatory hyperpigmentation will improve over time, even if it’s left untreated, but this can take anywhere from three months to three years depending on the severity of the pigmentation.”
(QUICK FYI: darker skin types such as asian, mediterranean skin, middle eastern and black skin all have more potential for hyperpigmentation because of different hydration levels for the skin as well.)
Anyway, NOW LET’S TALK TREATMENT OPTIONS
You see, how you aim to treat your hyperpigmentation will depend on your skin type and what type of pigmentation you have. (However, a consult with a professional will help you find the best treatment for your specific needs!)
Buuuuut if you want to know what ingredients to look for in your skincare NOW! (Like I did because I’m gen Y, super impatient and can’t wait.) Dr Ronald Moy, founder of DNA Renewal, Past President, American Academy of Dermatology, American Society for Dermatologic Surgery and American Board of Facial Cosmetic Surgery and Medik8 Formulation and Development director Daniel Isaacs, recommend looking for the following:
“Look for ingredients such as hydroquinone, topical retinoids, glycolic acid, mandelic acid and kojic acid. “We’ve seen great results from hyperpigmentation like melasma with our DNA Regeneration Serum – $192.00 too,” Dr Moy says.
TRY: DNA Intensive Renewal Serum – $157.50
To be used in conjunction with the serum above! Best at night. Both help with ageing, hydration and pigmentation. Perfect if you’re looking for a little more bang for your buck! And suited to all skin types too.
Daniel agrees with the use of chemical exfoliators and adds “AHAs, like glycolic and mandelic acid, are great at reducing the appearance of hyperpigmentation. When applied topically, they gently dissolve the bonds that hold dead skin cells to the surface of the skin to reveal the new, radiant cells underneath. Because pigmentation affects multiple layers of skin, you will need to be consistent in order to see the results, but it’s a great way to speed up the recovery process!”
“Also Medik8 uses Oxyreseveratorol. In the past ingredients like hydroquinone and kojic acid have been used widely to treat pigmentation, but recently there has been some controversy surround their safety. For this reason Medik8 uses oxyresveratrol.
“Our patented stability system allows us to use the active at its optimum concentration 0.5%. Chemically similar to well-known resveratrol with an extra “oxy” group, oxyresveratrol (oxy-r for short) ensures an even skin tone by inhibiting tyrosinase activity (the enzyme responsible for melanin production) and brightening skin complexion over time. Remarkably, oxyresveratrol possesses 32 times higher anti-tyrosinase activity than kojic acid!”
SO there you have it. A little info on how to deal with hyperpigmentation. Of course mild peels are also generally considered safer for all skin types, however those who are prone to PIH and those with darker skin types should be careful. These are treatments that can inflame the skin and worsen the condition if not carried out properly.
However, let’s just stay out of the sun – k? (And if somebody could turn back time and stop my teenage self from laying in a solarium bed that would be fabness too.)
PS. Some of my favourite products are below!
Try: Aspect Pigment Punch – $129.00
My favourite pigment fighting product at the moment. Uses an ingredient called Tyrostat™ which is a powerful tyrosinase inhibitor and skin brightener that eliminates the need for harsh skin brightening ingredients. Also infused with Lactic Acid and a bunch of soothing and calming antioxidants. Helps with age spots, brown spots, freckles, hormonal marks, blotchy uneven skin tones and even acne scars. My ride or die.
TRY: Cosmedix Simply Brilliant 24/7 Brightening Serum – $99.00
Another powerful brightening serum and packed with ten plant based brightening ingredients including their star tyrosinase inhibiting ones: Palmeria Palmata: that interrupts the transfer of melanosomes (a pre curser for UV induced pigmentation) and Waltheria Leaf Extract: which is designed to help ‘lift’ away pigmented areas. This prod. helps with dark spots and visible discolouration – and is a little cheaper than the Aspect one above – although I think, just as good!
TRY: Medik8 White Balance Duo – $129.00
If you want to target other areas with the serums you can still target hyperpigmentation with these hydrating babies! The day formula contains a sunscreen, while the night cream also contains Niacinamide (which is one of my fave ingredients!) to help brighten your complexion, add moisture and give you an antioxidant hit! Both also contain the Oxyreseveratorol Daniel is chatting about above.
Tell me babez, do you have hyperpigmentation? How do you deal with it?