Hyperpigmentation—dark spots or patches of excess pigment in the skin—can be caused by hormones, inflammation, and exposure to chemicals, pollutants, and UV radiation. It can also be caused, or worsened, by things you are doing, unwittingly, to trigger your skin’s protective melanin response.

Here are a few facts about hyperpigmentation and how to repair the damage.

Injury to the skin causes inflammation, which spurs the skin’s natural protective melanin response, resulting in a darkening at the site of the damage. Pimples, which are the result of inflammation inside the pore, can leave dark spots behind after they heal. Picking at pimples will amplify the inflammation response, making it far more likely that a dark spot will develop.


Avoid picking at blemishes at all costs.

Instead:

  • Focus on reducing the inflammation to speed healing of the pimple and avoid triggering the ensuing hyperpigmentation.
  • Rub ice over the area to constrict blood vessels and calm inflammation.
  • Follow the ice with an application of toner that contains healing anti-inflammatory ingredients like mandelic acid (also a melanin inhibitor), salicylic acid.


Treatments that use heat or aggressive physical exfoliation, i.e., laser, microdermabrasion, high percentage chemical peels, or excessively abrasive scrubbing can trigger melanin production as the skin becomes inflamed and irritated. Gentler treatments and lower acid percentages are the best approach. Look for products containing gentle mandelic acid. It’s a natural inhibitor of tyrosanase, the enzyme that catalyzes melanin production. The larger molecular structure of mandelic acid means it’s absorbed more slowly by the skin, and, therefore, is less likely to cause melanin-triggering irritation.

Mandelic acid is ideal for darker skin more prone to hyperpigmentation. Click To Tweet


UV exposure triggers melanin production and darkens existing pigmentation, making sun protection a must. Always. Use broad-spectrum sunscreen for outdoor activity, and a daily moisturizer with sun protection that contains zinc peptides and aloe to support healthier skin and reduce inflammation while guarding against UV damage.


Boost your sun protection with a daily vitamin C & E serum. This combination of powerful antioxidants has been shown to enhance the photo-protective properties of sunscreen exponentially. Additionally, vitamin C is a melanin-inhibitor, so it will help to prevent new pigment from forming, and vitamin E enhances cellular repair and reduces inflammation. Not the best for acne prone skin, so always check with your esthetician to make sure you are using the correct serums.

Melasma is another common skin problem that causes brown to gray-brown patches on the face. Although the exact causes of melasma are unclear, common triggers include sun exposure, pregnancy, birth control pills, and cosmetics.


If you have melasma, the following tips can help you achieve a more even skin tone:

  • Wear sunscreen daily. One of the most common treatments for melasma is sun protection. Since sunlight triggers melasma, it is important to wear sunscreen every day, even on cloudy days and after swimming or sweating. Choose a sunscreen that offers broad-spectrum protection, a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or more, and zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide to physically limit the effects of the sun’s rays on your skin. Apply sunscreen 15 minutes before going outside and reapply at least every two hours.
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses when you’re outside. Sunscreen alone may not give you the sun protection you need. Whenever possible, seek shade and wear protective clothing in addition to applying sunscreen.
  • Choose gentle skin care products. Choose skin care products that don’t sting or burn, as products that irritate the skin may worsen melasma.
  • Avoid waxing. Waxing may cause skin inflammation which can worsen melasma, so it’s important to avoid waxing areas of the body affected by the condition. Ask a professional about other types of hair removal that may be right for you.

If you are dealing with hyperpigmentation and need help handling it, schedule a treatment with me today. This condition can be the most difficult to clear and can take time but with patience, consistency and perseverance, it can fade drastically.

xoxo
Elle

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