Most of us crave a glowing tan, yet while this type of pigmentation is desirable, many people have pigmentation that they feel needs treatment: these can manifest in the forms of unwanted freckles, brown spots, sunspots, or age spots.
Hyperpigmentation and an uneven skin tone are unwanted side effects of sunlight, damage to the skin, or hormonal changes. It can affect people of all skin colours and occurs as a result of increased melanin production in the skin. These dark spots or patches can appear anywhere on the body, but when they appear on our faces it can negatively impact our confidence and self-esteem.
More than 80% of women over the age of 25 say they have some form of pigmentation that they would like to see lightened. Skin pigmentation comes in three major types and can be treated several ways, which can become quite confusing when searching for the right pigmentation removal cream to help you feel good in your skin.
How Your Skin Affects Your Mental Health
If you suffer from hyperpigmentation you may feel conscious about your looks, and depending on the severity of it, you may think society might view you as diseased. Without seeking treatment, many people cover their pigmentation, usually with makeup or hiding it with hair and clothing.
In the time of social media, photo filters, and the selfie, having a glowing complexion is seen as necessary. Filters and photo editing aps create an impossible beauty standard (pores exist, we all have them, they don’t need to be airbrushed out!), and both women and men are constantly comparing themselves to the unachievable.
However, hyperpigmentation and any other form of pigmentation can be treated with a combination of topical removal creams and in-clinic treatments.
The Causes of Skin Pigmentation and Hyperpigmentation
Melanin is the brown pigment that protects your skin from the damaging effects of ultra-violet (UV) rays. It is produced in the melanocytes, which are found in the deepest layer of your epidermis, as well as your hair and in the irises of your eyes.
Hyperpigmentation is an increase in the amount of melanin and its distribution where there is too much being produced in one area, leaving you with skin discolouration. This type of pigmentation can be triggered by a number of factors, including exposure to UV light, fluctuations in hormones, skin inflammation, injury, and genetics.
Three Types of Skin Pigmentation
Solar Lentigines or Sunspots
These non-cancerous, clearly defined, and pigmented sunspots are larger than freckles. Found in the upper layers of the epidermis and mostly superficial, lentigines can develop over a period of years or suddenly appear anywhere on the body. They range from light brown to black in colouration.
The degree of the pigmentation is dependent on the intensity and duration of exposure. Sunspots should be monitored, as they do have the potential to turn into skin cancer and melanoma. To fade dark marks and patches quickly and safely, prescription pigmentation removal creams that contain powerful active ingredients are ideal for smoothing and brightening uneven skin tone and texture.
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) occurs as a result of injury to the skin from acne, burns, surgery, cuts and scrapes, insect bites, rashes, and aggressive skincare treatments. PIH can fade over time or it may require treatment that takes into consideration your lifestyle factors and triggers.
Melasma is pigmentation that occurs deeper in your skin’s dermis on areas of the face, neck, and sometimes the chest and arms. Hyperpigmentation from melasma takes the form of dark symmetrical patterns (usually across the centre of the face, forehead, cheeks, upper lip, nose, and chin). Women are more prone to melasma than men (only 10% of men suffer from melasma). People with darker skin, those of Latin/Hispanic, African, Asian, Middle Eastern, or Mediterranean descent are much more likely to suffer from melasma.
Melasma is commonly caused by exposure to UV light, which over-stimulates the skin’s melanocytes. Changes in hormones can also trigger melasma, often during pregnancy, which is why it is also called “the mask of pregnancy”. For many women, seeing this change in their appearance adds a new layer of stress to their pregnancy. Birth control pills and hormone replacement treatments can trigger melasma, both of which should be discontinued before treating any pigmentation.
Pigmentation Removal Creams And Treatments
There are a whole range of methods and treatments to choose from when you are looking to fade any unwanted pigmentation. If you are looking for rapid results and to become a more confident version of yourself in the safest way possible, we recommend any treatment provided by a doctor or dermatologist.
Clinically Compounded Prescription Treatments
You can be prescribed pigmentation removal creams and serums that have been tailored specifically to your skin’s needs by a doctor or dermatologist. Telemedicine skin care providers offer an online video consultation with one of their doctors who will account for your lifestyle and skin sensitivity and tolerance. A blend of active ingredients in a pigment removal cream base or serum is delivered directly to your door.
OTC Lightening and Brightening Creams
Over-the-counter (OTC) creams can remove pigmentation, and these creams are often available in higher-strength formulas. Some commonly used ingredients include hydroquinone, liquorice extract, niacinamide and retinoids. While these are more readily accessible, they often take longer than other clinically prescribed pigment treatments.
Acid and chemical peels work by exfoliating the top layer of the skin, encouraging new cell turnover. This process helps even out and brightens the skin tone and texture. Look out for ingredients such as alpha-hydroxy acids (glycolic, lactic, citric, and malic acids), azelaic acid, kojic acid, salicylic acid, and l-ascorbic acid – all of which are active ingredients that work to chemically exfoliate your skin.
Sometimes referred to as ‘resurfacing’, targeted beams of light are used to reduce pigmentation in the skin using ablative or non-ablative lasers. Ablative lasers are more intensive and are used to remove layers of the skin. Non-ablative lasers target the dermis, encouraging collagen production and the tightening of the skin.
Intense Pulse Light Therapy (IPL)
IPL is a form of non-ablative laser treatment that stimulates collagen production in the dermis. This treatment requires multiple sessions to achieve the desired effects, flat dark patches of skin are particularly responsive to this treatment. It also reduces wrinkles, spider veins, and enlarged pores.