So called ‘perfect skin’ can be seemingly unattainable. Many of us experience frequent skin dilemmas, from acne, to dryness, to one of the big problems that can be the trickiest to deal with… hyperpigmentation. This can be a skin issue that is hard to understand, from what hyperpigmentation truly is, to what causes it, to what treatments are available and which is the right one to choose. The information out there can get a bit much, so it’s no wonder that tackling our skin issues can feel daunting. When it comes to dealing with hyperpigmentation, we’ve compiled a short guide that can help you to wrap your head around your skin troubles and the options available to treat them…
What is hyperpigmentation?
Hyperpigmentation is a common skin concern that affects many individuals. It involves the appearance of darker patches or spots on the skin. Hyperpigmentation can present itself in several different forms, such as melasma, age or sun spots, or pigmentation from scarring. Hyperpigmentation can sometimes be accompanied by other symptoms like dryness or itchiness.
What causes hyperpigmentation?
Hyperpigmentation can emerge as a result of many different causes. One of the main causes of hyperpigmentation is excessive sun exposure. UV radiation from the sun can stimulate the production of melanin in the skin, leading to hyperpigmentation. A surprising cause of hyperpigmentation can also hormonal changes or imbalance. Some women experience hyperpigmentation as a result of pregnancy or due to medical conditions that cause hormonal issues. Certain medications and antibiotics also have the potential to cause hyperpigmentation. Hyperpigmentation can also be a result of genetics or inflammation, so it has a myriad of causes, hence it is a fairly common skin issue.
How can we treat hyperpigmentation?
So this is the big question. Whilst hyperpigmentation is something that many of us experience, a lot of us lack the knowledge on what to do to reduce it and improve the appearance of our skin. Luckily, there are many different options to choose from when it comes to both treatment and prevention, hopefully something to suit everyone!
- Sun protection
Whilst practicing sun safety won’t necessarily treat existing hyperpigmentation, it is one of the most important and effective preventative measures we can take to reduce the risk of experiencing further hyperpigmentation. Applying a good SPF of 30+ or higher every morning (and reapplying throughout the day), can be some of your best protection against the sun’s UV rays. Apply sunscreen to your face, neck and shoulders if they are exposed. Furthermore, wearing a hat outside on sunny days can make all the difference.
Retinol is a form of vitamin A that is commonly used in skincare products due to its anti-ageing and skin-renewing benefits. Retinol is used to treat a variety of skin concerns, one of which being hyperpigmentation. Retinol does this by increasing cell turnover; as old skin cells are shed, new skin cells replace them, thus reducing the appearance of hyperpigmentation. Retinol is on the market in several forms, such as creams, serums and peels. Retinol is typically used in the evening as sunlight can decrease its efficacy by breaking down the active ingredient. Retinol is a great option for many who are looking to treat hyperpigmentation, but it is important to note that this is a powerful ingredient, so it’s important to start by using small amounts every so often.
- Hormone balancing
If you are experiencing hyperpigmentation as a result of a hormonal imbalance, a way to reduce the emergence of hyperpigmentation on your skin would be to look into balancing your hormones. This can be done through various means such as a healthy diet, exercise, getting enough sleep, and managing stress levels. However, everyone’s bodies are different so it is a good idea to speak with your doctor to get the right guidance.
- Chemical Peels
If you are seeking a beauty treatment to tackle hyperpigmentation, chemical peels a an option that many beauty technicians and dermatologists recommend. Chemical peels can be an at home or in-clinic treatment option. At home options include chemical exfoliants containing ingredients such alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) and beta hydroxy acid (BHA). Start by using a low concentration of product and build up a tolerance. At home chemical exfoliants are more suitable for treating mild hyperpigmentation as well as bringing the skin back to life. For people with more severe hyperpigmentation, an in clinic treatment may be more suitable. In clinic chemical peels work by removing the top layer of dead skin cells, revealing smoother, healthier skin underneath. These treatments are performed by trained professionals as they contain strong active ingredients, meaning that this route is most suitable for those who are experiencing more extreme cases of hyperpigmentation. However, chemical peels are not suitable for everyone with hyperpigmentation so consult with a dermatologist before going ahead.
- Laser treatments
Another in clinic treatment option to deal with hyperpigmentation (and my personal favourite) is by seeing a professional who can perform a laser treatment on the skin. Laser treatments, such as fraxel laser, work by delivering laser energy to the skin in a series of tiny columns. These laser columns penetrate the deep layers of the skin, targeting the pigment producing cells that cause hyperpigmentation. Whilst fraxel laser is highly effective, it is a more pricey and invasive treatment. Always consult a dermatologist to help you decide if this is the right treatment for you.
Hyperpigmentation is certainly a more difficult skin concern to treat, but there are luckily many options available for those of us who want to reduce its appearance on our skin. However, some of the solutions are more invasive, so it is always crucial to speak with a professional before taking these steps.