Skin pigmentation is becoming a growing problem for many of us. In this blog, find out what skin pigmentation is, what causes it, and how it can be both prevented and treated.
What Is Skin Pigment?
Skin pigment comes from cells called melanocytes. These melanocytes produce a substance called melanin and it is this melanin which is the skin’s pigment. This is what causes human skin colour.
This is also why we have a range of skin colours tones. Deeper/darker skin types are going to have more active melanocytes which produce more pigment. The additional pigment comes as a result of evolution. This is because certain ethnicities have evolved to protect their skin from the sun depending on the region that they are from. It’s the opposite for light skin tones who’s melanin production is lower.
Sun exposure causes our melanocytes to produce melanin because this pigment will protect us from UV exposure. This is also why we tan and get darker skin.
What Are the Causes of Skin Pigmentation?
As you get older, your skin accumulates sun damage. This can lead to the formation of what are known as sunspots. These are almost like permanent freckles which arise as a result of long term sun damage. These flat brown spots, also called liver spots (despite having nothing to do with the liver) are harmless, but many people have an aesthetic issue with them.
Another type of pigmentation is melasma. These are much larger patches of lighter brown/orange spots of pigmentation. They are usually hormonally driven and are really common in women, especially around menopausal time. They can also develop during pregnancy.
The last type of pigmentation worth mentioning is post-inflammatory pigmentation. If you have anything in/on your skin that’s causing a lot of inflammation, whether its a big scrape or burn, that needs to heal, this can stimulate the melanocytes to produce melanin and then you get a dark mark after. Examples of this include having large scrapes or burns which need to heal, as well as acne that inflames the skin.
Post-inflammatory pigmentation will go away on its own but it does take time as your skin has to basically resurface. As a result of this it does take a good few months to see an improvement but there are amazing skincare products and treatments out there that will help prevent the pigmentation from happening in the first place, and also speed up the process of it healing.
Why Your Pigmentation Is Getting Worse
Sun damage is the leading cause of aggravating skin pigmentation. In severe cases, sun damage and UV radiation can lead to the skin feeling burnt and raw, and even lead to the development of skin cancer.
Daily SPF sun protection is one of the best things people can do to prevent pigmentation. As well as causing pigmentation, UV light and sun exposure will make existing discolouration worse. Even if you have pigmentation caused by acne inflammation, the sun will still aggravate this. SPF is especially important for lighter skinned individuals as they have less protective melanin in the skin.
The new wave of instant result facial treatments are also causing skin pigmentation.
If someone is going in for a facial treatment like a deep microneedling or a medium/deep facial peel that’s not administered properly, pigmentation issues can occur afterwards. If you’re causing damage this deep down in the skin, people will get darker spots afterwards as a result of the injury caused to the skin.
Skincare Products & Treatments You Need to Prevent Skin Pigmentation
There are many products and treatment that can help prevent, and also treat skin pigmentation. Dermoi’s scientific team have meticulously researched the available products to identify the best on the market.
For sun protection we recommend Heliocare 360: Water Gel SPF50. It’s intensely hydrating, water-resistant and has added vitamin C and E. It’s also infused with green tea extract to provide your skin with optimal antioxidant protection while you are out in the sun. Our experts have found this to be one of the best sun protection products on the market.
The Osmosis Brightening Pigmentation Facial Treatment is a vitamin infusion that’s a next generation “no-acid facial peel” for ultimate correction. It delivers an intense dose of vitamin A, combined with skin-tone evening actives such as pure vitamin C, mandelic acid, and niacinamide, into the skin. This breaks up existing pigmentation patches but also prevents future hyperpigmentation from forming.
The treatment immediately brightens the complexion while healing deep, stubborn hyperpigmentation. It’s effective against all hyperpigmentation including melasma, sunspots, and acne scars.
The PCA Perfecting Peel for pigmentation resurfaces all sunspots, melasma, and acne scars to give a bright and even complexion. The treatment involves deep exfoliation with enzymes, mandelic acid, and lactic acid to smooth the skin’s surface. It penetrates deep enough to fight the source of pigmentation, without going too deep and causing lasting damage.
To finish, an advanced retinoid blend continues to resurface the skin and even the skin tone for 10hrs after the facial treatment.
Why Instant Results Treatments Can Be Especially Damaging for Deeper Skin Tones
When it comes to administering deep facial peels (or even medium) on dark skinned patients there’s always a risk of blanching. This happens when you cause so much damage to the skin’s melanocytes that they become inactive and you end up with stark white patches on the skin. This damage is permanent and won’t go away because the cells have lost their function.
[on deeper skin tones], traditional skin resurfacing procedures such as dermabrasion, chemical peels, and laser therapy can be […] associated with prolonged recovery and risk of complications. These complications can include a higher risk of dyspigmentation and scarring, and unsatisfactory clinical outcomes.¹
Dermoi’s Advice On Skin Pigmentation
Melanocytes live in the basal layer of the epidermis so in order to target them, or if you’re doing a peel to help with pigmentation , you don’t need to go any deeper than that. This means you’re still working within the epidermis which is the top layer of the skin. But many peels and treatments think ‘oh I have deep pigmentation , surely I must go deep and damage my skin all the way to the dermis’ and that is absolutely not what you should be doing as you’re going too deep into the skin for absolutely no reason. Many aestheticians often have no understanding of what these cells do and where they reside in the skin. These are the people giving the treatments!
Author: Sam Pennington