What is hyperpigmentation and why does it happen?
Hyperpigmentation of the skin is a serious problem for many people. People with non-Caucasian (brown/darker) skins are more prone to hyperpigmentation due their larger and more active melanocytes (melanin pigments-producing cells).
So why does pigmentation happen? This is a much more complex process, but to simplify, it starts with irritation or inflammation of the skin, which can be caused by hormonal changes (e.g. during pregnancy, menstrual cycle, or puberty) or external factors such as sun damage, irritants present in some of the skincare, burns, and other irritations. When inflammation occurs, the melanocytes are triggered to overproduce melanin, and you end up with hyperpigmentation, which manifests as skin discolorations that range from light to very dark spots or patches, depending on the size of your melanocytes. Understanding this can go a long way in helping to avoid things that will irritate your skin.
Now you know. What should you do?
Serious hyperpigmentation needs to be treated by a doctor, who would be best placed to assess the problem and provide the right cause of action. However, there are things you can do to avoid hyperpigmentation or address it when it occurs.
First, you should always avoid putting irritants on your skin. This means you need to educate yourself about the ingredients used in skincare you are using and whether they are good or bad for you. For example, some of the treatments used such as glycolic acids or facial peels that contain glycolic acid, can cause further irritation because it tends to quickly penetrate deep into the skin and can cause further burns and increased hyperpigmentation. With the help of your doctor, you should be able to make the right decisions. You should also avoid fragrance/perfume/aromatic essential oils, and drying alcohols such as denatured alcohol, SD alcohol, and isopropyl alcohol. These ingredients are not good for you – fragrance will irritate and strip your skin of its natural moisture, which you want to retain.
What you need to do is to use active ingredients that would not irritate your skin. These include acids such as Ferulic acid, Azelaic acid, and octadecanoic acid; Niacinamide, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and several other ingredients that are effective with the least irritation. When using Vitamin A, it is important to note that, if you are susceptible to hyperpigmentation, it is wise to use a much lower percentage, preferably 0.5% and below in order to avoid burns. It is also important to know that treatment of hyperpigmentation takes time but using the right ingredients will give you better results in the end.
If you are interested in scientific research on different ingredients of skin products you can learn more here https://www.paulaschoice.com/ingredient-dictionary.
Your skin routine matters a lot.
You should never wear active ingredients during the day because they will react with the sun, since most of the active ingredients are UV-unstable and irritate the skin. Your morning routine should be simple – make sure you properly wash off all the ingredients you applied the previous night, then tone and moisturize the skin. People (especially with oily skin) forget that moisturizing the skin properly is so important to the healing process of the skin. You can have an oily skin but still have dryness, which is another source of skin irritation. So always wear a good moisturizer that goes well with your skin type and is packed with good emollients, including ceramides, which are lipid barriers that are very essential for the skin to retain moisture. You should note that our skin is generally made of 50% ceramides, and they are naturally produced by the skin to provide a natural skin barrier. However, we lose ceramides as we get older, so you do not want to leave them out of your skin care routine.
Lastly, but not least, sunscreen should be your best friend and you should make sure you are applying it every two hours during the day in order to get the best protection. Physical or mineral-based sunscreens would do the best job for you as they are formulated with a high percentage of Zinc oxide, which have a white cast that better reflects the UV rays and is also an anti-inflammatory. You read our blog on sunscreens here.
Disclaimer: all content found on our website related to skincare, including text, images, audio, videos, or other formats, has been created for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health care professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Website. Reliance on any information provided on our website is solely at your own risk. Links to informational/educational content not created by author are taken at your own risk and VALUESPOT is not responsible for the claims of external websites.