Talking about pigmentation is such a broad subject and can be confusing with a lot of information surrounding the topic. In this article we will try and explain as much as we can to give you a better understanding. Let’s begin:
There are 2 different types of pigment categories:
Hyperpigmentation - a darkening of the skin caused by the overproduction of melanin.
Hypopigmentation - loss of pigment, therefore lightening the skin.
These can appear in small to large patches with various formations and even cover the whole body.
When treating pigmentation within the salon we are only able to treat hyperpigmentation and we can do that with various different methods which we will list for you later on. For now let's dig deep into hyperpigmentation and why it forms.
What is Melanin?
Melanin is the substance produced by our bodies that gives us our unique hair, eye and skin colour. Our skin produces more melanin when we are exposed to the sun in order to protect it, it absorbs the UV rays so as not to allow damage to our cells and the DNA within it, hence why we get tanned.
What are the causes of excess melanin production?
Before we list the causes we must look at the 2 different categories; extrinsic and intrinsic.
Intrinsic factors are beyond our control for example:
- Genetics or a genetic predisposition.
- Hormonal fluctuations such as pregnancy and menopause.
- Certain oral and topical medications including supplements.
- Skin Disorders.
- Medical conditions - autoimmune, problems with kidney or liver function, PCOS, Lyme disease etc.
- Certain medical treatments such as chemotherapy and treatment for autoimmune.
Extrinsic factors are within our control, meaning we can prevent the pigment from getting worse or even forming if we take the correct precautionary measures. Extrinsic factors include:
- Over or prolonged exposure to the sun (UV).
- Trauma; this could be an injury like sunburn, surgery or even acne.
- Treatments or Surgical procedures.
- Inappropriate or overuse of active products or even topical steroids.
Now if you are reading this you are either interested in pigmentation or you have a pigmentation condition yourself and are probably wondering what type of pigment you have. Pigmentation sits within various layers of our skin:
- Junctional (both)
Examples of this are freckles, post inflammatory pigmentation (caused by injury), sun and age spots.
This pigment sits very close to the skin surface making it quite bold and quite obvious. Most commonly found in lighter skin types and is normally brown in colour appearing as a spot or with an obvious border. It is usually caused by environmental factors such as over exposure to UV. That being said, freckles are pigment conditions that are both an extrinsic and intrinsic pigment being that they are both genetics and sun induced.
Examples of this are Melasma, Chloasma and post inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
Sometimes difficult to identify without the use of skin diagnostic devices, dermal pigment is muddy brown and can almost look grey with a hazy border. Melasma is a hormonally stimulated pigment that appears in uneven patches usually symmetrically across the skin, whereas chloasma is the same type of pigment but only when it appears in pregnant women. Dermal post inflammatory pigment or PIH is where severe damage or injury has occurred and the inflammation causes pigment into the dermal layer.
Examples of this are Poikiloderma of civatte.
Junctional pigmentation is where the pigmentation damage occurs in both the epidermis and the dermis. Poikiloderma of civatte is a pigmentation disorder found mainly in middle aged women. It can appear as a mixture of pigment and redness mainly around either side of the neck but can also be on the face.
Now that you have a better understanding of pigment, let's get into some of the treatments available to treat pigmentation and what to expect.
Pre treatment info:
Here are a few things to remember before you start your pigmentation journey.
Get a Skin Check:
When treating pigmentation we are trying to eradicate darker colour and this could lead to a later diagnosis of something untoward. It is advised to get a skin check before any pigmentation treatment whether it be on the face or on the body.
Book a skin consultation:
Before starting treatment you will need to have a skin consultation. This will help us to determine what type of pigmentation we are treating and this will influence what treatments and products are available to you. During our consultation we will ask a lot of questions regarding lifestyle, nutrition, any medical conditions, a timeline of the pigment etc. We will take photos of the skin with the Observ skin diagnostic system showing us an in depth look at the skin and the pigment. We can establish a timeline (if you have an event you would like to be ready for) and build a treatment and product plan together that best suits you.
Take preventative measures:
By now you should know to be wearing sunscreen everyday, SPF should be applied 365 days a year because even harmful UV rays can penetrate through cloud. It is recommended a minimum of SPF 30 for darker skins and 50 for lighter skins.
We recommend Ultraceuticals Ultra UV Protective Daily Moisturiser available in a hydrating, mattifying or tinted and you can choose between SPF 30 or SPF 50.
A wide brimmed hat should be worn especially in the warmer weather, even when just popping out.
Finally introducing a pigment inhibiting product into your routine, this will be an absolute requirement for not only during treatment but for the long term. Those who are prone to pigmentation will surely accumulate more if you aren’t using a pigment inhibitor to disrupt the over production of melanin. We will discuss these in more detail later.
- Skin Peels
Products to help with pigmentation:
- DMK Melanotech drops
- DMK Super Bright
- DMK Melanotech Creme
- Vida Glow Radiance
- Ultra Brightening Range
- Vitamin C