Pigmentation refers to the discoloring of the skin. Our skin gets its color from a pigment called melanin, which is produced by specialized cells known as melanocytes. Everybody has different levels of melanin, thanks to genetics. When the body produces more melanin, the skin gets darker (hyperpigmentation). When it doesn’t produce enough melanin, the skin becomes lighter (hypopigmentation).
Both hyper- and hypo- pigmentation can be caused by genetics, skin disorders or injuries, but hyperpigmentation happens to almost everyone as they age due to repeated sun exposure. The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays stimulate the production of melanin and can cause dark spots or patches to appear on the skin over time. These are known as sun spots, age spots, or lentigines.
Hormonal changes can also cause hyperpigmentation. During pregnancy many women develop dark patches on their face and body. This condition is called melasma, and it often disappears on its own after giving birth. Women who take the birth control pill may also experience similar skin changes.
A crucial step to prevent further hyperpigmentation from developing is to apply a sunscreen to your face and décolleté and any other affected area when you are in the sun.
Using vitamin A is important in reducing hyperpigmentation, as it regulates melanogenesis by inhibiting tyrosinase - an enzyme that plays a vital role in the production of melanin.
Vitamin C is another important ingredient for pigmentation, as it brightens the skin and evens out the tone, lightening dark spots.
Botanical extracts can also help brighten the skin and diminish dark spots.
While chemical peels, and laser skin resurfacing do address hyperpigmentation, these treatments can be harsh on the skin and produce unwanted side effects.
For a gentler option, we recommend microneedling combined with a brightening treatment. Microneedling creates microchannels in the skin, so the products that follow penetrate deeper, and are in turn, more effective.
If you are pregnant, talk to your healthcare provider before undergoing any treatments for hyperpigmentation to ensure they are safe. You may be advised to wait until after you have your baby.