With summer already here, it’s time to talk about one of the biggest skin concerns of the warmer months – hyper-pigmentation. Hyper-pigmentation can appear in many different forms. Some occur because of normal hormonal changes, others, like freckles, are genetic. Some forms of pigmentation are a result of permanent skin damage. In this guide, we’re going to take a look at the different causes and types of hyper-pigmentation. We’ll also be bringing some solutions for how to prevent and treat them.
What is it?
Our skin’s pigment comes from a compound called melanin, which helps to protect our skin from the sun. Skin cells called melanocytes are responsible for producing melanin. Factors like sun exposure, toxins or hormonal changes cause overstimulation of the melanocytes and they begin to produce excess melanin. This is when hyper-pigmentation occurs. Hyper-pigmentation can affect nearly all skin colours, but is more common in women than men.
A lot of sun damage occurs before the age of 18, thus it’s so important to keep little ones (and reluctant teenagers) protected from the sun at all times. Don’t forget about yourself too of course! The visible signs of sun damage can vary. Your skin might start to develop an unevenly pigmented appearance or you may start to get age spots, which usually begin to form on the hands and face.
Although it might feel lovely to have a tan, every time you do it you’re risking hyper-pigmentation and age spots in the future. If you just can’t shake the habit, switch to the fake stuff and apply a good SPF over the top. Use a BB Cream or moisturiser with SPF during the winter months. Make sure you apply regular layers of SPF 30 or higher when you’re out in the summer sun, or on holiday. It’s never too late to start undoing the damage of years caused. If you’re starting to see the visual effects of years of tanning and sun exposure, there are treatments available to you…
Microdermabrasion to Treat Sun Damage
A Microdermabrasion Facial is an exfoliating treatment that uses fine crystals and vacuum technology to remove dead skin cells, rejuvenate the skin, stimulate circulation and speed up cell renewal. This helps to lift away pigmentation more quickly and efficiently than your skin ever could on its own. After a course of Microdermabrasion, your skin will be more even toned and smoother. Use high factor sun protection during and after your course to prevent pigmentation returning.
SkinBase IPL Photo Facial
If you have age spots, you may need a treatment that works on a deeper level inside the skin, rather than just removing the surface pigmentation. SkinBase Intense Pulsed Light is a photo rejuvenation therapy that is ideal for age spots because it targets stubborn areas of pigmentation and breaks them down, allowing your skin to remove it as part of the natural skin cycle.
Although freckles are the result of a genetic predisposition, they tend to become more prominent in the summer months, before fading in the winter, so they are affected by sun exposure. Freckles aren’t necessarily an indication that anything is wrong with your skin, but you should still use good sun protection and take care not to stay in the sun too long, because they are an indicator that the sun is affecting your skin. Since freckles aren’t a problem by themselves, our advice is to embrace them and enjoy your natural, unique beauty!
Melasma, or ‘Pregnancy Mask’
Hormonal changes during pregnancy can cause unwanted patches of pigmentation, usually on the face. This condition is known as melasma. While melasma can actually affect anyone, it is most common in pregnant women because of the scale of hormonal changes they experience, but it can also affect people who take the contraceptive pill and can be triggered by stress too. While melasma can’t be treated during pregnancy, a course of Microdermabrasion Facials after you give birth will help to remove it. Our Microdermabrasion Facials are relaxing as well as effective, which makes them the perfect treat for all new mums! If your melasma has a different cause, such as stress or the contraceptive pill, you can get yourself booked into a course of Microdermabrasion Facials right away to help prevent the melasma from getting too noticeable.
Pollution and other toxins
Did you know that the toxic compounds found in pollution particles cause pigmentation as well? The more pollution we are exposed to, the more likely we are to experience this because microscopic pollution particles settle on the skin and are hard to remove using normal cleansers. If you live in a city, book a course of Microdermabrasion Facials to prevent pollution from causing pigmentation, and to help eliminate any that may have already started to form.
Skincare for Hyper-Pigmentation
It doesn’t matter what kind of hyper-pigmentation you have, sun protection is always the most effective preventative measure. Even pregnancy-related melasma can be worsened by the sun. Always use an SPF of 30 or more and if you already have pigmentation, consider using an even higher protection factor, or covering up with a sun hat. Make sure that the SPF you choose protects from UVA rays as well as UVB, because while UVB rays are the ones that stimulate melanin production and cause pigmentation, UVA rays can cause premature ageing and more serious skin problems.
There are alterations you can make to your skincare routine to reduce pigmentation as well, such as using gentle skincare that contains antioxidants like vitamin C and make sure you cleanse every single evening before bed. Exfoliation is the key to reducing pigmentation, and while Microdermabrasion is the most effective method, there are plenty of home-based options that you can use before and after your treatment course too, including masks, scrubs and exfoliating toners.
Chemical peels are a safe option, but they can cause inflammation, pain, redness and hypersensitivity, which means that they have a long recovery time. This can make them almost impossibly inconvenient for people with busy schedules. If you have melasma from pregnancy or stress, chemical peels are probably the most inconvenient option imaginable; you need to be back on the go as quickly as possible after a treatment! The best way to use chemical exfoliators is in your own skincare routine; for example, a toner containing an AHA like glycolic acid, or a face mask containing lactic acid are both effective and gentle ways to maintain your skin after a course of Microdermabrasion.
The best way to tackle hyper-pigmentation is a gentle, effective skincare routine, good sun protection, and a course of convenient, painless SkinBase treatments, designed to support and care for your skin whilst correcting the unwanted pigmentation. Find your nearest Microdermabrasion therapist here, or contact us here to book a course of Intense Pulsed Light to eliminate those age spots.