– the causes of pigmentation and how to tackle it
When we think of the way our skin ages, fine lines, wrinkles and sagging are usually front of mind, but brown spots and uneven skintone are also a factor. While a smattering of freckles is often deemed ‘cute’ in our youth, larger areas of pigmentation – those uneven patches of brown skin on the face, décolletage and hands – are much more bothersome as we age and can add years to our appearance.
If we could turn back time, I’m sure we’d all slather on the sunscreen to protect our delicate young skin from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. But it might interest you to know that the sun isn’t the only culprit when it comes to skin discolouration, known as hyperpigmentation.
In fact, there are numerous factors at play, including hormonal imbalances, acne, chemical reactions and even eczema.
The good news, according to Dr Geoffrey
Heber, founder of Ultraceuticals skincare, is that hyperpigmentation can be treated. Here, we delve into three of the main causes of this patchy problem and identify the whitening and brightening products that can help tackle it.
This type of pigmentation typically arises in response to inflammation or trauma to the skin and can affect both the face and body. “This can be anything from acne scarring, post-IPL [if you went into the sun after treatment], burn-on-burn, a chemical reaction or eczema,” says About Face founder Marianna Glucina.
Flat spots of discolouration, known as macules, can range from pink and red to brown, depending on skintone and the depth of the pigmentation. They can look like small, discoloured freckles or larger patches of darker skin and may be shiny or look like ‘new’ skin.
“The discolouration is down to the skin’s melanocytes [pigmentproducing cells] going into overproduction when trying to heal a trauma,” says Glucina. Luckily this can be treated successfully. “Our gold standard for post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation reduction would be laser treatments such as Fraxel or Clear + Brilliant,” she says. “We also use Omnilux Light Therapy if the pigment is recent and if there is a need to reduce inflammation,” she says.
As with all treatments, good at-home aftercare is required to achieve the best results and Glucina recommends using skincare containing tyrosinase inhibitors and high-strength vitamin A, C and E. “Over time, pigment will be reduced as long as you’re also using proper sun protection with a broad-spectrum SPF 30+,” she says.