Hyperpigmentation is one of those conditions that can appear from out of nowhere – one day you’re relaxing in the sun, and the next you’ve got dark spots of every shape and size. But whether you’re battling melasma, sun damage or dark spots left behind from an injury, understanding the condition – its triggers and aggravators – is ultimately the key to preventing pigmentation.
Hyperpigmentation is an increase of melanin, the pigment that gives skin its natural colour is overproduced in certain areas. This can be caused by both internal and external factors. Internal factors such as hormones, stress, nutrition, medical treatments and any other factor that changes the body’s natural regulatory functions can all result in excessive pigmentation on the skin. External factors are caused by the environment and include exposure to harsh weather conditions, sun exposure and physical touching/ rubbing of the skin, which can all cause hyperpigmentation. And so there are many different forms of hyperpigmentation, but for the most part, they can be divided into three categories:
- Hormonal - Melsma causes large areas of discolouration of the face typically during pregnancy (known as the mask of pregnancy) or hormonal pills like birth control. This condition normally resolves itself once oestrogen levels have been rectified. However, it can take anywhere from a couple of months to a few years to fade entirely.
- Post-Inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) - causes dark spots when an injury has caused the skin to become inflamed, this can be due to acne, psoriasis, eczema or other inflammatory conditions. As the inflammation subsides and the injury begins to heal, the skin can overproduce too much melanin, resulting in the discolouration. PIH if untreated will show improvements from three months to three years.
- Sun-induced - Sun damage one of the most common forms for hyperpigmentation, consisting of freckling and dark spots of the skin due to sun overexposure. Anyone can be affected at any point in their lives. Oftentimes you will find that sun damaged accumulated in the 20s can start to surface in the 30s or 40s, which is why it’s essential to use sunscreen every day from an early age.
With all that said, how can you prevent hyperpigmentation you ask? Well if all cases of hyperpigmentation are worsened by sun exposure, proper suncare is crucial. Applying a daily sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or above is the best way to keep pigmentation at bay. Protective clothing such as hats and sunglasses should also be worn to enhance protection. For those who are prone to some form of skin inflammation, it’s important not to pick at the skin.
For optimal results, follow an at-home anti-hyperpigmentation regimen treatment. This should include an exfoliating cleanser, serums for pigment correcting and brightening the face, retinol cream/serum, a sunscreen of 30+. Plus include professional in salon chemical skin peel treatments, every 4/6 weeks.
Photography: Claire Graham | Maud Simon
Louise has been within the medical aesthetic industry for 10 years, specialising in Laser and skincare as well as having an advanced knowledge in skin products.
Louise’s knowledge and passion for all result driven treatments as well as makeup, have lead to her being featured in numerous editorial material throughout her career.