Hyperpigmentation: what it is and how to stop it!
What are all these dark spots that are popping up on my face, hands and chest especially this time of year? That, my friends would be pigmentation!
The little cells responsible for all this trouble are called melanocytes. They’re cheeky little cells that live in the basal (bottom) layer of skin and look like little octopuses with long arms (dendrites). These dendrites extend into your skin and deposit pigment known as Melanin.
Pigmentation can commonly present in the form of freckles, sunspots and melasma (pregnancy mask) and post inflammatory hyperpigmentation. In a nutshell, it’s the darkened spots on your face and body that contribute to an uneven skin tone and appearance.
We all generally experience some form of pigmentation related to UV exposure due to our raging sun, depleted ozone and general love for all things outdoorsy.
Post inflammatory hyperpigmentation is caused by trauma and inflammation. Generally, it presents itself in the same distribution as the initial inflammatory process or in other words – in the same area of the trauma. An example of this are those dark marks that are left behind after having acne or other types of skin injuries like grazes, blisters or burns – particularly in darker coloured skins; Asian, African or European.
Another strong trigger for the production of hyperpigmentation (specifically in women) are hormones. This is known as melasma and is often seen in patterns on the face and body during pregnancy or through the use of the contraceptive pill.
That is some of the science behind pigment, but why should it concern me?
Pigment can be concerning from an aesthetic perspective as it makes the skin appear uneven in tone and colour. However, it can also be a sign of something more sinister, such as skin cancer – just because your skin may tan easily doesn’t mean you are safe guarded from it. We encourage all of our clients to have regular skin checks, ideally annually and to be aware of any changes to pigmented lesions. It is always better to be safe than sorry - when in doubt, check them out!
How can I prevent and treat hyperpigmentation?
First and foremost – slip, slop and slap. Sun protection is absolutely vital as it minimises the production of pigment. There is no point of trying to improve your pigment concerns unless you are willing to protect it, especially because re-occurrence is often common.
Here’s two products we love for daily skin protection:
The next step is to get some active ingredients into your skin routine. Vitamin A, C, Kojic Acid, Tranexamic acid, Licorise root extract and
Niacinamide all do wonders for pigmentation! These ingredients not only help slow and inhibit the production of melanin, but they help brighten pre-existing pigmentation. They are typically found in serums and creams and are applied morning and night on clean, damp skin after cleansing. Here are some of our favourite go-to serums:
What treatments do St.Skin recommend for hyperpigmentation?
When treating hyperpigmentation, we start with LED and facial infusions to prepare the skin’s barrier. We then lead into more intense treatments such as chemical peels, cosmelan, Q-switch laser and skin needling. Once our clients have completed their treatment plan, they progress to a maintenance plan specifically tailored to them alongside their customised skincare. You can find more information on our treatments here.
It is important to remember that with hyperpigmentation, prevention is always best!