As careful as one can be about applying sunscreen, even the most cautious of us can get caught unawares – in the car, walking along the beach, or in an outdoor restaurant.
UV light is one of the main causes of hyperpigmentation, so increased sun exposure during the summer months means that those tell-tale dark patches are all the more likely to appear. Yet the issue of pigmentation is one of the most confused in skincare.
Which is why we set about getting the facts on pigmentation.
Fact: Melanin – the pigment responsible for the colour of our skin and hair – is produced by melanocytes in the skin. Common causes of excess, or ‘hyperpigmentation’ include: Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, (following acne, eczema or psoriasis) and hormonal melasma, (which is often associated with pregnancy or certain contraceptive pills).
Fact: From around the age of 30 onwards, sun exposure, genetics and the skin’s natural ageing process can disrupt the production and distribution of melanin. This uneven distribution can contribute to the ‘pooling’ of melanin – forming larger and more visible dark spots.
Fact: There are several ways to prevent and reverse pigmentation. SPF is obviously a crucial preventative measure. Once the skin is already pigmented, products and treatments work by blocking tyrosinase (the enzyme responsible for kick-starting the pigment production process), stopping melanin from rising to the skin’s surface or by lightening patches on its outermost layers or both.
Fiction: It’s all bad news. Melanocyte-stimulating hormones produce melanin, which in fact protects the skin from DNA damage – up to a point. They are also believed to suppress appetite by acting on the hypothalamus in the brain – so good for those who are watching their weight. It’s only when melanin production goes into overdrive that we find ourselves with hyperpigmentation.
Fiction: There’s a quick fix. Unlike dry skin, spotty skin – even lined skin, there is no quick fix for pigmentation, in fact, skin specialists often rate it as one of the most difficult skin conditions to rectify. The good news is that with the right products and plenty of perseverance, you can make a visible difference and really turn back time on those dark patches.