I get asked a lot about hyperpigmentation. How can we prevent it and how can we treat it if we do get it?
Well, fear not, I am here to tell you all the basics you need to know about hyperpigmentation.
WHAT IS IT?
Hyperpigmentation is when certain skin cells produce too much melanin in attempt to protect the skin from sun damage. It can also occur with hormone fluctuations too. The melanin clumps together and causes dark patches in the skin which can be seen as freckles, age spots or even larger patches of darkened skin.
HOW DO WE PREVENT IT?
I think if you have been following me for a while now you will know my obsession with sun protection. What we need to remember is that the melanin in our skin is there to protect us from potential damage from UV rays.
One of the ways it works is to 'clump' together under the skin to almost act like a shield to protect our skin, but unfortunately, by this point we can have already had some sun damage.
The best thing to do is wear your sun protection every single day. I would use a factor of 40 and above and reapply every few hours if possible when going out in the sun or if you have been in water.
We need to remember that the UVA rays (that cause skin damage and cancers) can penetrate through most things including glass, so even if you're sat at home on the computer all day, if you're near a window, wear your SPF.
Also, UVA rays are at the same levels whether the sun is out or not so even on those rainy, dull days, wear your SPF.
AVOID OVER STIMULATING THE SKIN
A great way to treat pigmentation is by gentle exfoliation, but if you over do it or have treatments that can be very stimulating, you may be at risk of post inflammatory pigmentation. Think facial waxing, medium depth or deep chemical peels and any skin resurfacing treatments. Also, facial treatments that involve a lot of stimulating things such as microneedling, followed by peeling or using any strong suction techniques for example.
We also need to keep the skin's natural barrier intact. This is one of the main things I focus on in the clinic and working with clients. When the barrier is impaired, the skin will be more sensitive and therefore at risk of hyperpigmentation (especially if you're not wearing your sun protection daily). Treatments such as dermaplaning where the barrier is removed using a scalpel or chemical peels that are not designed with barrier repairing ingredients can also cause sensitivity.
GIVE YOUR SKIN A BREAK DURING PREGNANCY OR HORMONE FLUCTUATIONS
So I don't mean avoid your skincare routine altogether or stop or even change it, but during pregnancy or during a change of hormones (such as going on the pill), our skin can go through so many changes and melasma (butterfly mask) is a very common occurrence. If you can, avoid trying to treat it whilst you're pregnant because a lot of the time it can go away by itself after giving birth or whilst you're on the pill. This also goes for facial hair too. Sometimes velous hair can appear on the face during pregnancy, however, I would not recommend waxing or practicing any hair removal which might change the growth as this could have long-term effects and the hair more than likely will fall out after giving birth.
HOW DO WE TREAT PIGMENTATION?
We need to remember that treating hyperpigmentation can be a slow process. It is also a vicious circle too if we're not careful. We need to gently exfoliate the skin using enzymes and light peels, but we also need to be aware that this can make the skin more sensitive and therefore prone to further pigmentation.
To get the best results it is important to be very consistent with your homecare and clinic treatments. You want to be using a product range which is designed to specifically treat hyperpigmented skin (such as the Nimue Fader range) and also having clinic treatments regularly but not very close together e.g. gentle peels every 2 to 3 weeks as anything more often than that again could be too stimulating.
I would also recommend exfoliating the skin very gently once a week to begin with and gradually building this up to twice a week. I would advise using enzymes (such as the Nimue Exfoliating Enzyme) instead of granular exfoliators as again, these could be too stimulating on the skin.
If you wish to try any of the Nimue products or treat hyperpigmentation, please do not hesitate to book an online skin consultation with me here and we can discuss a full treatment plan to help you get the clear complexion you want.
Thank you so much for reading,
Lots of love,