Dark spots, age spots, sun spots; they're all types of pigmentation. No idea what pigmentation is? We're here to help.
GLAMOUR has spoken to skincare experts to find out exactly what pigmentation is, what you can do to treat it and top tips for preventing it from happening.
What is Pigmentation?
Pigmentation, or hyperpigmentation, is the overproduction of melanin (the natural pigments produced in our cells responsible for skin and hair colour) in specific areas on the skin, creating darker spots compared to the overall skin tone and resulting in an uneven complexion.
What are the causes of pigmentation?
"Pigmentation can be due to hormones, sun damage and past inflammation like acne," explains Dr Jules Nabet, medical director of Omniya Knightsbridge. "Some skin types are more prone to pigment than others due to the amount of melanin (pigment) within the skin and treatment options will differ depending on skin type and type of pigmentation."
Will SPF help?
"If you're suffering from pigment caused by UV rays and over exposure to the sun, you should be careful to prevent further damage and even more pigmentation," says Dr Nabet. A broad spectrum sun cream SPF 50 covering protection from both UVA/UVB rays will help prevent the existing pigmentation from getting worse.
But you should also be slathering on the SPF if you suspect your pigmentation is due to hormonal factors. "Melasma pigmentation often occurs during pregnancy, so it's a good idea for expectant mothers to wear a high SPF, which will help to control melanin production," he added.
The best face suncreams to protect you (even in the winter!)
Dr Ross, Medical Director of agrees; "The best way is to wear a high factor sunblock and a hat and keep out of the sun during its hottest periods."
Which skincare ingredients are best?
"The Best skincare ingredients to treat pigmentation are Retinol or Vitamin A, to promote cell turnover and the production of healthy skin and Vitamin C, a potent antioxidant to best prepare skin for any oxidative stress caused by environmental aggressors like UV rays," advises Dr Ross.
A good product to use daily is - a vitamin-packed anti-ageing facial mist and a great quick-fix spritz to keep on your desk or in your handbag. "It stimulates, refreshes and rebalances the skin," says skin expert, KerryLou Herbert. Key ingredients include White Lilly, which helps to nourish damaged and irritated tissue, and Vitamin C and vitamin A fight free radicals and boost cell renewal to gently reduce the appearance of pigment patches.
What about treatments?
"IPL intense pulse light is great for superficial pigmentation and freckles as it helps to rejuvenate the skin. More intensive laser treatments that are able to penetrate deeper into the dermis can be helpful for more pronounced pigmentation and melasma (grey-brown patches on the skin)," says Dr Ross.
Dr Nabet agrees, noting that both laser and IPL would be a good treatment option for hormonal pigmentation, while chemical peels are the best solution to pigment caused by sun damage and by inflammation and trauma (like acne). "A mandelic acid peel would be a good way to lift the pigment in these cases," he says. Mandelic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid like glycolic and acts to deeply exfoliate the skin, and is a great option for people with darker skin tones who are experiencing pigmentation.
Happy summer skin!
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