Our skin works hard to protect us from the elements, but sometimes (when it tries too hard), it may cause some problems for us. Case in point, hyperpigmentation. Let's look at why it happens, how to prevent it, how to treat hyperpigmentation and some ingredients and procedures that have been proven to work to get rid of it.
What Causes Hyperpigmentation?
Hyperpigmentation is the scientific word for dark spots, sun spots, uneven skin tone, discoloration etc.
Our bodies melanocytes, which produce melanin to protect us from the sun and other environmental damage.
People with darker skin tones have more melanin and likely have more active melanocytes.
These get triggered when the skin is healing and is a natural process, however too much of a response and we get more melanin in one spot on our skin than in another, which we refer to as hyperpigmentation.
This can occur from a variety of factors like;
- exposure to UV rays (aka the sun)
- faded acne scars
- skin injuries
While it's a natural process, sometimes we want to prevent or treat hyperpigmentation to keep our skin even and smooth.
How to Prevent Hyperpigmentation?
The most effective way to protect against hyperpigmentation is to limit sun exposure, use sun protection (even on cloudy days).
So put on a cool hat and sunglasses, some SPF and you're good to go!
If you have darker skin, you already have more natural protection against UV rays, but sun damage and irritation can produce hyperpigmentation, so it's important to limit exposure.
How to Treat Hyperpigmentation
While an "ounce of prevention" is better, as the saying goes, there are some things you can do to treat hyperpigmentation and lessen it's appearance.
First, here are some ingredients that have been showing promising results.
Vitamin C might seem like a boring, old ingredient, but the reality is that it's an anti-aging powerhouse. It can help with hyperpigmentation, improve dull skin and fade old acne marks.
Some scientific studies are showing that Vitamin C is able to reduce melanin formation.
"Normal skin contains high concentrations of vitamin C, which supports important and well-known functions, stimulating collagen synthesis and assisting in antioxidant protection against UV-induced photodamage. "
""Vitamin C derivatives, including the magnesium phosophate ascorbyl derivative, have been shown to decrease melanin synthesis both in cultured melanocytes and in vivo"The Roles of Vitamin C in Skin Health Study
So, while it won't change your skin tone overall, it seems to be able to help break up hyperpigmentation, scavenge free radicals and dispose of toxic oxidants.
You can't go wrong with Vitamin C!
Kojic Acid is produced from a certain type of fungis (aka mushrooms). It slows the production of melanin by preventing a certain amino acid called tyrosine.
Kojic Acid is used widely for skin-lightening effects and to help reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation.
Don't use this on broken or irritated skin. Start off with a small application and see how well you tolerate it.
Kojic acid has been used to reverse sun damage, age spots and acne scars.
This is the "big guns" of treating hyperpigmentation. It's a skin bleaching agent that can cause dryness, irritation and redness. Make sure to use moisturizer and SPF after using Hydroquinone.
Like Kojic Acid, it works by inhibiting tyrosine and therefore preventing the formation of melanin.
Start slow, test it out on small patches of skin before expanding use.