The Truth about Pigmentation and Sun Damaged Skin
What is Pigmentation?
Have you ever noticed that in the warmer months of the year, dark and brown spots will sometimes appear throughout your body? Typically, this happens on areas that are most frequently exposed to the sun including the face, décolleté, neck, arms, and legs. And no, we are not talking about freckles – rather pigmentation! Simply put, pigmentation is a term that is used to describe the color of a person’s skin. The specific pigment responsible for providing color to not only the skin, but also our hair and eyes is called melanin. When the production of pigment increases to a level where a small section of the skin becomes considerably darker than its surrounding area, it is referred to as hyperpigmentation. Hyperpigmentation can appear in the form of dark brown spots, age spots and melasma, which many of us find troublesome.
So how and why do we end up with these undesirable flat brown spots? Well – there are cells in the body called melanocytes that are responsible for producing melanin. Although we all have the same number of melanocytes, the rate at which melanin is produced in the body is determined by genetic makeup and environmental factors. This explains the reason that we all have different skin tones and colors. The primary factors that affect one’s pigment are hormonal changes, pregnancy, aging and sun exposure – which is the largest contributor. The connection between time spent in the sun and melanin production has been proven to be positively correlated. Excessive exposure to UV rays causes the body to react by overproducing melanin, which oftentimes results in hyperpigmentation. This is especially true for those with fair skin, who are genetically more prone. On the other end of the spectrum, individuals with darker complexions will notice that pigmentation often appears in the form of grey or ashy patches on the skin. Although we all love a sun kissed look, too much exposure to UV rays can result in skin pigmentation disorders that have long lasting impacts on the appearance of our skin.
With summer quickly approaching, this blog will cover everything you need to know to protect your skin from these bothersome brown spots. If this information is finding you a little late, don’t worry! Our clinic has solutions that can minimize the appearance of sun damaged and hyperpigmented skin.
How Do You Treat Pigment?
While the damage that the sun causes to one’s DNA is unfortunately permanent, there are treatments that our clinic offers that can reduce the appearance of related pigmentation. To treat these signs of aging most effectively, it is not uncommon to use more than one treatment and course of action. Technology that uses multi-wave light such as The BBL (Broad Band Light) sets new standards in this realm. An intense pulsed light is used to blast discoloration on the skin in this non-invasive treatment. Brown and sunspots are targeted by distributing heat to the upper layer of your skin. The pigment will absorb this light energy, and in turn stimulate the regeneration of new skin cells. Optimal results can be achieved between three to six treatments spaced four weeks apart. It is crucial to note that following any light therapy treatment, your skin will be more sensitive to the sun for a fixed duration of time. Being diligent about reapplying SPF and hydrating your skin during this time is of the utmost importance to maximize your results.
Another popular solution for those with pigment disorders is the PicoWay. Unlike the BBL that uses light, the PicoWay draws upon the use of a laser. This laser works at a speed and energy that is so fast it is measured in picoseconds. Operating at this rate allows the laser to penetrate below the skin’s surface, breaking down melanin and lightening the skin. There are several different handpieces that allow this laser to work at varying lengths and depths, making it a customizable treatment. Most commonly, the Zoom handpiece is used to focus on specific dark spots to eradicate hyperpigmentation in the skin. Other wavelengths can treat pigmentation of varying sizes, with large spots most commonly visible on the face and back of hands.
Finally, consistent HydraFacial treatments are one of the best ways to maintain the integrity of the skin. One of the unique features of this facial treatment is the add on boosters that allow our technicians to tailor each treatment to the patients’ specific needs. The Britenol booster is commonly used on those who have spent too much time in the sun. This booster has Alpha – Arbutin in it, which inhibits an enzyme within the melanocytes that controls the production of melanin. In turn, it brightens and lightens the appearance of dark and brown spots that have been caused by sun damage.
How to Prevent Pigmentation
When it comes to skincare, Vitamin C is going to be one of your best friends! Some of the most popular Vitamin C serums amongst staff and patients at our clinic is the CE Ferulic and Phloretin from SkinCeuticals, as well as the CE peptide from Vivier. These serums inhibit the production of melanin which will help brighten your skin and lighten the appearance of dark spots. Vitamin C should be the first serum applied after cleansing in your morning skincare routine, and should only be applied in the a.m. As an antioxidant, it will also serve as an added layer of protection against free radicals and ultraviolet rays, which leads us to the importance of sun protection. There is nothing more paramount than being diligent about wearing and reapplying SPF all year round. Simply put, your skincare products are not reaching their full potential if you are not locking them in with a good sunscreen. We carry SPFs across all six of our medical grade skincare lines varying in molecular structure and ingredients. We know how difficult it can be to find an SPF that works for you and your skin. Our team of skincare professionals are here to help you find an SPF that seamlessly integrates into your routine regardless of your skin type, and the duration of time you spend in the sun.
Another popular skincare solution for pigmentation are our Hydroquinone kits, a sought-after skin lightening program. Our clinic offers a full-encompassing system formulated to repair damaged skin by using a strong bleaching solution that gradually lightens hyperpigmentation. Hydroquinone helps to even skin tone by slowing melanin production, while simultaneously boosting the body’s generation of collagen and hyaluronic acid. Due to the potency of this at home treatment, skincare consultations are mandatory before the purchase of this kit.
Alastin’s new A-Luminate Brightening Serum is a breakthrough product that tackles all forms of discoloration for a brighter and more luminous complexion. Its proprietary PATH-3 Technology not only helps to minimize the appearance of surface pigmentation but also protects against future damage with continued use. The serum also improves the appearance of redness that usually accompanies hyperpigmentation. With powerful antioxidants that promote optimal skin health, A-Luminate is designed to support in-office treatments such as chemical peels, lasers, and skin brightening treatments. What’s more, its Hydroquinone and Retinol free formula is non-irritating, making it suitable for daily use.
Finally, we cannot forget about the importance of using retinol. Retinol, which is a Vitamin A derivative, repairs and regenerates cellular turnover. When new skin cells are stimulated, often they appear more evenly pigmented. After using a retinol in your evening skincare routine for roughly six months, it can significantly reduce the appearance of hyperpigmented skin. Slowly integrating this product into your routine is an absolute must for those who suffer with hyperpigmentation.
Our Favourite Skincare Products to Reduce the Appearance of Hyperpigmentation
We could go on and on about treatments and products available at our clinic that help reduce the appearance of pigment. As we wrap up this blog post, we want to share with you some of our favourite skincare products that help reduce the appearance of hyperpigmented skin.
Recommended Products for Hyperpigmentation
Skincare Products with Vitamin C
Skincare Products with Hydroquinone:
- ZO Multi-Therapy Hydroquinone Program Kit
- Vivier Hyperpigmentation 2% HQ Program
- Skin Brightening Program + Texture Repair
Skincare Products with Retinol:
- SkinCeuticals Retinol 0.3%, 0.5%, 1.0%
- ZO Retinol Skin Brightener 0.25%, 0.5%, 1.0%
- SkinMedica Retinol Complex 0.25%, 0.5%, 1.0%
- Vivier 0.5% Retinol
- Vivier 1% Night Complex
Additional Recommended Products:
If you would like further information on products that can fade and lessen the appearance of pigment, be sure to send us your questions, click here. Our skincare consultants are always happy to find products and a regime that are appropriate for your skin type and concern.