Skin that is even in tone looks youthful, luminous and healthy. However, not many of us actually have a complexion that is free of pigmentation.
In order to tackle this skin issue and reclaim your clear complexion, you first need to understand what pigmentation is, why it occurs and how to treat it effectively.
EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT PIGMENTATION
The definition and cause of pigmentation
Pigmentation is the name given to the presence of melanin build-up within the skin, usually in a concentrated area. It gives the skin an uneven, blotchy appearance. There are two specific types of pigmentation: hyperpigmentation means an increase in the skin’s normal pigmentation, which creates darker patches of skin in a particular area, explains Dr. David Orentreich, Clinique’s Guiding Dermatologist, and hypopigmentation is when the melanin build-up is of a lighter colour in comparison to your natural skin tone.
Uneven pigmentation is often caused by exposure to UVA and UVB rays, however, sun exposure is just one of many causes. “External aggressors, improper moisture balance and hormonal changes [such as pregnancy or taking birth control pills] also contribute to pigmentation,” says Dr David. “When your skin cells are irritated by the sun and other external aggressors, they increase the production of melanin, which results in dark spots.” Skin trauma from inflammation, burns and acne can also cause pigmentation to form.
The best way to treat pigmentation
Topical formulations and laser treatments give best results when it comes to fading pigmentation, says Rachel McAdam, La Roche-Posay scientific communications and education manager. However, it is a gradual process and you need to be patient. “Results can be accelerated, though, if UV exposure is prevented, cell turnover is increased and melanin production is reduced all at the same time.”
Ingredients that speed up cell turnover are exceptional at clearing pigmentation as they bring the melanin-filled cells to the surface, says Rachel. However, if you’re looking to use products that inhibit melanin production, Rachel recommends speaking with your doctor first to determine your suitability. Our favourite skin tone-correcting ingredients include niacinamide (vitamin B3), vitamin A, vitamin C, soy, liquorice and glycolic acid.
How to prevent pigmentation forming
Protecting your skin from the sun is the best and easiest way to prevent dark spots appearing on your skin.
“Using a broad spectrum UV protector 365 days per year is a must,” says Geoffrey Genesky, head manager of Kiehl’s laboratory, research and innovation, as UVA (ageing) rays are strong all year round. “This is important in terms of prevention, but also to prevent the recurrence of brown spots that have already been treated.” (Try La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL Fluid Extreme SPF50+ or CLINIQUE Super City Block SPF 30+.) Treating pimples with care is also important, as squeezing blemishes causes skin trauma that can lead to scarring and dark spots.
5 OF THE BEST PIGMENTATION-CLEARING PRODUCTS
1. Kiehl’s Dermatologist Solutions Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution
2. Racinne Ultimate Aqua Blanc Concentrate
3. NeoStrata Enlighten Illuminating Serum
4. StriVectin® Get Even Brightening Serum
5. John Plunkett Superfade Face Cream
Do you suffer from pigmentation? Have you tried to correct it using topical or laser treatments?