Hyperpigmentation!!!!! How Can I Minimize Sun Damage, Age Spots and Brighten My Skin????
Age spots (brown spots), is scientifically referred to as hyperpigmentation. Melanin is what gives color to our skin and hair. Age spots are deposits on the skin caused by an overproduction of melanin. The melanin we have is genetically determined, but can be affected significantly by UV light and/or hormones.
3 Main Causes of Hyperpigmentation.
UV rays speed up the production of melanin in our skin which then results in a tan. Tan skin always sounds wonderful, but abnormally high concentrations of melanin causes damage to the melanocyte cells, resulting in them clumping together. As we age and the skin starts to lose collagen and thins, the melanocyte cells begin to journey to the outer layer of skin and the pigmentation deposits as ‘surface spots’.
Post-inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH)
When the melanocyte cell’s respond to injury on the skin due to infections, allergic reactions, mechanical injuries, reactions to medications, trauma (eg, burns), inflammatory diseases, excessive skin treatments (Over exfoliation, picking) etc… Post-inflammatory Hyperpigmentation occurs resulting in an increased/abnormal distribution of melanin in the tissues, causing scarring.
Referred to as the “Pregnancy Mask”, Melasma is triggered by an increase in hormones due to pregnancy or taking certain oral contraceptives. Melasma can disappear post-pregnancy or after the ceasing of oral contraceptives and can persist for up to five years afterward. If pregnancy or oral contraceptives are taken again the chances of the Melasma returning is very high. UV Exposure can worsen the pigmentation so you should always wear a sunscreen with at least an SPF of 30.
Brightening vs. Whitening Treatments. Pros & Cons.
Hydroquinone, up to 2%, is one of the more popular skin lightening products on the market, but there are many contraindications regarding its safety for use. It’s estimated that at least one third of the population is allergic to Hydroquinone. Severe contact dermatitis has been known to occur and may be photosensitized with prolonged use. (Not recommended for use longer than 6 months.) In some cases with the use of hydroquinone, hyperpigmentation and acne-like lesions, known as onchoronosis can occur. Olive tone to very dark skin can experience hypopigmentation (extreme lightening of the skin) and once the pigment is lost it’s permanent. Hydroquinone is illegal in almost every country except the United States for the adverse reactions it has on your skin and health. Brighter skin, but at what cost???
Safer alternatives for skin brightening have been created in the past few years and are more effective for brightening the skin with few to no adverse reactions or lightening (hypopigmentation) of the skin. Many professionals use botanicals and extracts over hydroquinone to treat hyperpigmentation. Ingredients like Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate), Phytic Acid (Rice Extract), Zinc Glycinate, antioxidants such as White Tea Extract and Licorice Root Extract are all known to slow down the Tyrosinase Enzyme, the chemical catalyst that triggers the development of hyperpigmentation in our skin, to help control pigmentation and brighten skin. Microdermabrasion is known to be very effective in acellerating your results, especially if it can be paired with the proper chemical/botanical brightening treatments.
Professional Skin Brightening Treatments & Home Care That Show Results!
Pigmentation, depending on the cause, can be a step by step process with a strict skin regimine that MUST be followed to the “T” to rid the hyperpigmentation layer by layer. It is recommended you talk with a professional skin therapist that will prescribe a home care regimen and series of professional treatments to accelerate and provide your results.
Regardless of the products you are prescribed, you must have realistic goals on how quickly you will see results. Most cases, you will notice your pigmentation worsen before it gets better. As the skin shows result you will notice more darkening depending on how deep the pigmentation being treated is. This is a good thing because you see your results being achieved and the end result will be evenly toned skin. It can take up to 45 days for existing melanin to slough off depending on your age and how severe the pigmentation is. Stay CONSISTENT when using your prescribed brightening products morning AND night for up to 8 weeks before attempting to detect improvement. The depth of your pigmentation will indicate the effectiveness of your results. Sun-induced pigmentation is the easiest to treat, while hormonally-induced (Deeper Post-inflammatory pigmentation/melasma) can be more challenging due to internal body changes. With following a strict skin brightening regimen your results will fail if at least a UVA/UVB SPF30 sunscreen is NOT worn daily when in sunlight at any point. You must protect your skin from UV Exposure at all times to achieve/maintain results.
Just remember, over 80% of your results come from the care you take at home. For example, when you go to the dentist for your dental cleaning, he/she takes care of the dirty work, but if you don’t brush your teeth twice daily all the work for your results would be a waste, right?? Stop!… Think about it! Take Care. ^____^
- Juanita Bell
Information/image sources: Dermalogica Education Material
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