Living with hyperpigmentation, sun-spots, melasma, freckles or skin discolouration is a huge concern for many. Our sunny climate can make it even more troubling. We are constantly asked “What causes pigmentation and what are the best products for fading brown spots?”
Pigmentation is an uneven skin discolouration with brown spots. This is usually a harmless condition in which patches of skin become darker in colour than the normal surrounding skin. This darkening occurs when an excess of melanin, the brown pigment that produces normal skin colour, forms deposits and clumps together in the skin.
What causes hyper-pigmentation?
Pigmentation can be triggered by hormonal fluctuations, which is the most common cause, genetics, birth control pills, and injury to the skin, such as picking and squeezing the skin. But what really accelerates pigmentation is UV radiation from the sun. The sun stimulates the pigment cells (melanin), to secrete pigment to protect the skin. People are most at risk during the summer months, as they are enjoying the outdoor weather. Stress and heat have an inflammatory effect on our pigment cells, which makes them appear darker.
The difficulty in answering the question of pigmentation is that there is not one clear answer to what the causes is, other than we definitely know it presents itself when we are exposed to the sun.
Types of skin pigmentation
The different types of hyperpigmentation have different causes. For instance, age spots develop when you are frequently exposed to the sun. Dermatologists usually refer to these spots as solar lentigines or sun-spots. While age spots usually form on the face and back of hands, they can also develop on any areas that receive excessive sun exposure. As we age, there is a good chance we will begin to develop age spots on the face. They often begin popping up after the age of forty. These spots are usually black or dark brown and they can also be found on other areas that are exposed to the sun, such as the chest, shoulders, arms and hands.
While age spots don’t pose any kind of medical problem, living with hyperpigmentation makes many people are unhappy with the way they look.
Melasma has a similar appearance to age spots, but is spread out over a larger area. This form of hyper-pigmentation most often presents itself with hormonal changes. This explains why it is common among pregnant women, as pregnancy is a time full of hormonal fluctuations. Women who take birth control pills are also at risk from developing melasma because these medications cause changes in hormonal levels.
Changes in skin colour can be brought about by both internal and external causes. For instance, acne marks may result after a pimple has healed and dark spots may form after injuries. These conditions are usually referred to as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation PIH. The skin has its own immune system, which reacts to the invasion or stimulation of the skin. These substances will increase and speed up the functioning of the melanin producing cells located in the epidermis, which will then release more melanin. In addition, the ability to transfer the pigment between the cells will also be boosted. This is what causes patches of discolouration. People who have darker complexions will suffer from PIH more commonly than individuals with fair skin, but anyone can be affected by this condition. Eventually, these spots can fade on their own; however this process can take months.
Another type of hyperpigmentation is freckles, which is an inherited characteristic, with freckles becoming more prominent when skin is exposed to the sun. When it comes to freckles, prevention is very best. Using a natural zinc sunscreen at an early age and liberally applying it to any visible area of skin, at least thirty minutes prior to heading outdoors, is always the best answer for preventing freckles, especially if one’s skin is prone to freckle.
Our liver plays a big role in our digestion, the conversion of foods into energy and the removal of toxins from our blood that affects the health of our skin. Without bile, our body cannot breakdown dietary fat, which can lead to a slow metabolism and cause patches of itchy, dry white skin. Liver damage inhibits the removal of toxins from the blood. As these toxins build up, they can cause your skin to become red, dry and inflamed.
Dr Sandra Cobot is known as the Liver Doctor and says “not many of us relate the outer glow of our complexion to our liver health. Our liver is the metabolic factory of our body, which produces energy to sustain the thousands of functions performed every minute by all of your body’s cells. Our skin cells require energy to eliminate toxins and repair and regenerate them. Our heart requires energy to pump blood efficiently to our skin to maintain collagen production and oxygenate the cells to protect them from ageing.
If our liver is not doing its job of breaking down toxins efficiently, they must be eliminated from your body by other means – in many cases they come out through our skin!”
When excessive toxins build up in the deeper layers of the skin this causes inflammation to occur and this can manifest as:
- Premature ageing and wrinkling of the skin
- Brown liver spots which make us look older
- Red itchy rashes anywhere on the body
Good liver health should definitely be a consideration for you if pigmentation, ageing and skin irritations are a concern for you.
There are topical skin care products that can help to encourage their fading, one in particular is not without controversy. Hydroquinone is a commonly used skin bleaching agent that inhibits Tyrosinase, an enzyme involved in producing pigment. The controversy around Hydroquinone revolves around redness and skin irritation, but some reports have shown it as possibly causing liver cancer and leukemia in rats. Countries such as Europe, South Africa, and Japan have banned its use, but in the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) still considers it safe and it is commonly prescribed by dermatologists.
SuperNatural Skincare ingredients offer a safe and effective alternative for treating hyperpigmentation and brown patches and don’t cause burning or damage to the skin.
Skin treatments for pigmentation:
At SuperNatural Skincare we believe living with hyperpigmentation can be managed and our three fold strategy to helps to fade and treat hyper-pigmentation.
- To help balance and normalise healthy skin function
- Help fade the pigment mark/s and inhibit the pigment cell from over secreting pigment
- Use a natural zinc sunscreen that prevents UV radiation from entering the skin and causing inflammation (post inflammatory hyperpigmentation)
There are 3 essential products that are key to helping fade pigmentation marks, and NO shortcuts can be taken.
- Lighten Botanical Serum is a dual-action ultra-brightening serum that helps fade age spots, hyperpigmentation, blemish marks and targets dark, patchy uneven skin
- Perfect Skin Serum I improves skin quality and texture, smoothing fine lines and improves skin colour and an even-tone.
- Radiance B3 Moisturiser evens-out pigmentation spots and blemish marks, leaving skin looking fresh, smooth and vibrant
- Zinc SPF+ is our natural zinc sunscreen that helps guard against signs of premature skin ageing, sun-related flare-ups and dark spots.
- Perfection Tinted Day Cremes help protect the skin against UVB & UVA radiation. They need to be applied daily over the skin treatment serums, as they act as a physical sunblock (they don’t allow the UV rays to penetrate the skin, and help keep our collagen safe from the UV Ageing ray)