There are various types of pigmentation. You can get Hyperpigmentation where there is increased pigmentation in the skin, and you can also get Hypopigmentation where there is a loss of pigment in the surface.
Melanin is the pigment in skin that is produced by cells called melanocytes. If melanin production is faulty, it creates too much or too little melanin. Melanin is triggered by tyrosinase, an enzyme that determines the colour of our skin. Too much melanin causes Hyperpigmentation, and too little melanin causes Hypopigmentation.
Is There A Difference Between Pigmentation And Hyperpigmentation?
No, they are the same condition.
What Is Hyperpigmentation?
There are various sub-types of Hyperpigmentation: The small, discreet round, dark areas commonly found on the face, décolletage and back of the hands are what we call Solar Lentigines or sun freckles.
The other more distressing type of Hyperpigmentation is what we call Melasma, and this is a more diffuse type of pigmentation that is commonly seen in women, often over the forehead, cheeks and upper lip.
Melasma is more challenging to treat, and the specialist help of a Dermatologist is often required to make the diagnosis and to oversee the treatment with hydroquinone before the patient is started on maintenance treatment.
What Is Melasma?
This tends to occur in people with more olive or darker skin. Hormonal factors such as pregnancy and taking a contraceptive pill containing oestrogen can trigger this condition. It is also aggravated by sun exposure.
One Essentially Gets Two Types Of Melasma
Epidermal Melasma: This is where the pigment cells are found in the epidermis, the top layer of the skin. This often occurs during pregnancy, and if treated early with the proper use of sunscreens it can settle down spontaneously.
Dermal Melasma: If the Epidermal Melasma is not treated properly, the pigment falls from the epidermis into the deeper layer of the skin, the dermis. Once the pigment is in the dermis it is far more difficult to treat. However, many patients have a combined form of Epidermal Melasma as well as Dermal Melasma.
What Can I Do About Melasma?
Ideally, all patients who have hyperpigmentation should have a proper assessment done by a Dermatologist.
They will assess the patient’s hormonal status and it may be necessary to stop or change hormonal treatments such as the contraceptive pill.
If the Melasma is severe and has been present for some time a Dermatologist will often prescribe a mixture of a fluid or cream that contains hydroquinone of various concentrations. This will lighten the pigmentation but it does not always clear it completely. Once the pigmentation has improved the Dermatologist will prescribe a maintenance regimen which includes non-hydroquinone skin products with ingredients that specifically target melanin production and of great importance a daily sunscreen.
Why Does The Sun Make Pigmentation Worse?
Just one day in the sun without a proper sunscreen and the hyperpigmentation will take you back to square one – it is guaranteed to make your pigmentation worse. The sun is a trigger for pigmentation and your skin should never, ever be unprotected when you are outdoors. Always apply your sunscreen half an hour before sun exposure and re-apply regularly and especially after swimming and sweating. Your Dermatologist will always recommend a good quality, broad-spectrum sunscreen to be used strictly on a daily basis.
My Recommendation: SkinCeuticals Ultra Facial Defense SPF 50
What Other Treatments Will Help My Hyperpigmentation?
Chemical peels that have been specially formulated to treat pigmentation. These peels should be performed by a Dermatologist or an experienced skin therapist because if a harsh peel is applied to the face it can leave Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation, which means the peel will make the pigmentation worse. Sun freckles can be lightened and reduced with regular peels.
Intense Pulsed Dye (IPL) is recommended for Superficial Hyperpigmentation – sun freckles respond extremely well to this treatment. It cannot be used to treat Melasma.
Cryotherapy (Liquid Nitrogen) is another treatment for sun freckles but not for Melasma.
Dermapen Micro-Needling can help break up and reduce more superficial hyperpigmentation.
Clear + Brilliant Laser Treatment: Read All About It Here
Will My Melasma Ever Go Away?
Unfortunately, in many patients, Melasma it tends to be a chronic condition. There are many treatments that will improve and lighten the pigmentation but often the patients will have to use some form of treatment for many years.
What Is The Most Important Advice You Can Give Someone With Hyperpigmentation?
Never miss a day without sunscreen even on overcast days.
Never, ever use hydroquinone in an over-the-counter preparation. You should only use hydroquinone if you are under the care of a Dermatologist or medical doctor who understands pigmentation.
What Skincare Should I Be Using?
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I recommend the Dermaceutic Range from Dermastore and Dr Webster
Dermaceutic Laboratoire is a French cosmeceutical company and the partner of choice for over 30,000 Aesthetic Dermatology Specialists throughout the world. It was one of the first laboratories to develop products using ingredients such as Hyaluronic Acid, Vitamin C Complex, Retinol and Glycolic Acid. Dermaceutic has led the cosmeceutical industry in the discovery of effective combinations of ingredients and is supported by extensive clinical trials. Not tested on animals.
Advanced Cleanser is an expert cleansing foam, used as a daily cleanser to effectively remove makeup and sebum, leaving the skin clean, fresh and hydrated. The Advanced Cleanser is recommended for all skin types, including sensitive and dehydrated skin.
Contains: Xylitol, Zinc, Urea & Glycerin
Foamer 5 is a gentle expert cleanser which exfoliates and removes impurities and dead skin cells while purifying the skin. Foamer 5 is recommended for darker or more sensitive skins with a dull complexion, irregular texture and skin imperfections. Foamer 5 restores radiance and tightens pores by smoothing and exfoliating the skin.
Contains: 5% Glycolic Acid & Enoxolone
Foamer 15 is an exfoliating foam that removes impurities and dead cells and purifies the skin. Foamer 15 is recommended for dull complexion, irregular skin tone and skin imperfections. Foamer 15 leaves the tightens the pores and restores radiance, leaving the skin silky and smooth.
Contains: 15% Glycolic Acid & Enoxolone
Mask 15 is an oil reducing, astringent, clay mask. It removes dead skin cells, excess sebum, and purifies combination and oily skin. Mask 15 is recommended for oily skin, and skin that is prone to acne. Mask 15 can also be used as a bi-weekly “at-home-peel“ leaving the skin with a beautiful matte appearance, pores are tightened, and texture is refined.
Contains: 15% Glycolic Acid, Bentonite Clay & 2% Salicylic Acid.
Light Ceutic is a skin toning night cream which contributes to skin radiance and evens out complexion. Light Ceutic is recommended for dull skin and irregular complexion. Light Ceutic is a wonderful product to use to prep the skin pre-aesthetic treatments. Light Ceutic helps maintain pigmentation treatments by regulating the production of melanin, which causes pigmentation spots.
Contains: Glycolic Acid, Phytic Acid & Vitamin C
Turn Over is a stimulating night cream, with 15% Glycolic Acid. This powerful rejuvenating night cream contributes to cellular turnover and reduces the appearance of ageing. Turn Over is recommended to treat loss of skin tone, wrinkles and fine lines.
Contains: 15% Glycolic Acid
The restore action of the range forms the heart of the Dermaceutic portfolio. The restore products are specifically designed to restore, treat and heal skin post-aesthetic treatments. They can also be used either long term as daily moisturizers or used during periods when the skin is stressed or compromised.
Hyal Ceutic is an intense moisturizer providing your skin with 24 hours long-lasting hydration. It is also hypoallergenic and ideal for sensitive skins. Hyal Ceutic provides essential nutrients to keep the skin hydrated all day.
Contains: 5% Hyaluronic Acid, Aloe Vera, Jajoba Oil & Vitamin E
Regen Ceutic is a skin recovery and repairing cream which accelerates epidermal restoration, nourishes and firms the skin. Regen Ceutic is recommended for sensitive, dehydrated and aging skin.
Contains: 3% Peptide Complex, 3% Hyaluronic Acid, Vitamin C & E Complex, Shea Butter
K-Ceutic post-treatment cream helps nourish the skin following aesthetic treatments, by soothing the skin and delivering essential nutrients. K Ceutic helps reduce redness and irritation. This advanced formula helps skin maintain optimal moisture, which advances the healing time. This cream is wonderful post-injury, sun burn and can be used to aid bruising, swelling and scarring.
Contains: K Complex, Glycoprotein & Vitamin C&E
Panthenol Ceutic is a nourishing ointment, which restores skin comfort following aesthetic procedures, irritated or dry skin. Panthenol ceutic relieves irritated symptoms immediately.
Skin is soothed and highly nourished while suppleness and comfort are restored. Panthenol Ceutic can be used immediately after house-hold burns, sore and irritated skin, dry and cracked lips, cuticles, feet.
Contains: Panthenol, Bisabolol, Shea Butter, Beeswax & Vitamin E
Sun Ceutic is a SPF 50+ age defence sun cream. It provides high protection for skin exposed to UV rays and helps to prevent premature ageing of the skin.
Contains: Zinc & Titanium Oxide, Hyaluronic Acid & Aloe Vera
C25 Cream is an antioxidant concentrate cream, combining a powerful and concentrated formula of antioxidants. C25 Cream is recommended for irregular complexion and loss of radiance. It is a wonderful all-in-one product and is perfect for travel as it not only moisturizes but fights free radicals too.
Contains: 25% Vitamin C, Vitamin A, B5, E and polyphenols.
Tri-Vita C30 is a 30% vitamin C serum. This ultra-concentrated Vitamin C serum is an innovative combination of 3 forms of Vitamin C to reach several depths of the skin and release antioxidant benefit over time. Leaving the skin looking younger, healthier and more radiant.
Contains: 30% Vitamin C (15% L-Ascorbic Acid, 14.5% Ascorbyl Silanol, 0.5% Ascorbyl Ester) Vitamin E Ester and Ferulic Acid Ester.
Activ Retinol age defense serum is formulated in two strengths: medium (0.5%) and extra strength (1%). These retinol serums improve skin texture and reduce the signs of ageing. Recommended to treat fine lines, loss of skin tone, wrinkles and dull complexion.
Contains: Retinol complex, 1% Pure Vitamins C and E, 12% Ceramides, Panthenol, Allatoin and Mineral Cocktail.
Dermalift 5.0 is a lifting power serum with an immediate lifting effect combined with a long-term peptide skin-boosting effect. Recommended to treat the appearance of sagging skin, expression lines and fine wrinkles.
Contains: Lifting peptide complex, Pullulan extract, Bakuchiol, Ceramides, Panthenol, Allantoin and Mineral Cocktail
Yellow Cream is a dark spot concentrate cream for use as a targeted treatment on pigment marks. This expert skin toning cream stimulates and promotes skin radiance and harmonises complexion. Yellow Cream reduces the appearance of pigment marks and uneven skin tone.
Contains: Kojic Acid, Arbutin, Licorice, Morus Alba, Glycolic Acid and Salicylic Acid
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