Find Out More About Your Skin with Our Fitzpatrick Skin Test
Since pigmentation is complicated, it would be a good idea for you to complete the Fitzpatrick test to determine how your genes affect your skin type and how your skin has been reacting to UV radiation.
The test will help us identify whether you have any of the various types of skin patches, which produce different types of pigment from the rest of the body; for example, freckles or birthmarks (including port wine stains) age spots or melasma.
First… What is Pigmentation?
The colour of skin and hair is mainly down to a combination of genetics and environment. Our genes determine the amount of brown or melanin pigment cells we have. But that’s not all…. Our pigment skin cells produce the pigment melanin, but the way we see it with the naked eye is affected by how the brown pigment is reflected over the red and blue pigment of our blood, specifically our red blood cells.
And, if that is not complicated enough, the yellow hues in our skin’s pigment come from the number of carotenoids consumed our diet (the brightly coloured food we eat).
These constitutional factors and the skin’s phototype, i.e. the result of exposure to ultraviolet radiation (tanning), determine the final overall tone of our skin.
Most Common Pigmentation Problem
Post-inflammatory pigmentation (or PIH) is a common cosmetic problem of uneven skin tone or skin with darker patches. The temporary pigmentation that follows injury (e.g. a thermal burn) or an inflammatory disorder of the skin (e.g. dermatitis, acne). It is mostly observed in darker skin types.
Essentially, inflammation in the (upper/outer) skill cell layer stimulates those cells to increase melanin production and to spill extra pigment into surrounding skin cells.
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmented patches can be found at the site of the injury after it has healed. These patches range from light brown to black in colour and may become darker if exposed to sunlight (UV rays).
I Think I have PIH…How Can It Be Treated?
If an area of your skin is affected by PIH, the most important thing to do first is start a daily application of SPF 50+ broad-spectrum sunscreen. This will minimise the darkening caused by UVR until you can begin treatment. Cosmetic camouflage can be used over the sunscreen to further protect the area.
There is no one -size-fits-all for the solutions to pigment shifts but a systematic approach to treatment can help to achieve desired results. With all skincare, momentum and consistency are important.
Essential Methods of Treatment
The three key methods of treatment for hyperpigmentation include:
Protect (with sunscreens) - to prevent worsening of hyperpigmentation.
Prevent (with antioxidants) – to prevent abnormal transfer of pigment across skin cells.
Correct – correct abnormal pigment production by the pigment cells and the transfer to the other skin cells across the layers of the skin.
The good news is there are several powerhouse ingredients that can treat hyperpigmentation.
The information below will talk you through each ingredient.
Hero Ingredients In Your Pack
Hydroquinone is used to lighten the dark patches of skin (also called hyperpigmentation, melasma, "liver spots," "age spots," freckles) caused by pregnancy, birth control pills, hormone medicine, or by injury to the skin.
It works by decreasing the production of the melanosomes [ the little organs in the pigment cells that make, store and carry pigment] and increasing their breakdown in the melanocytes.
It does this by inhibiting the activity of tyrosinase, the enzyme needed to make melanin.
There are risks associated with prolonged use of Hydroquinone (ochronosis – a persistent blue-black pigmentation), so Dr Jeni does not recommend using this as part of regular skin maintenance and will typically recommend this only in an initial phase of treatment.
Glucosamine is an amino sugar and a naturally occurring substance, found in the connective tissues of the body. It is one of the building blocks of cartilage.
Glucosamine has been shown to accelerate wound healing.
Glucosamine is an inhibitor of tyrosinase activation and melanin production and so is useful in treating hyperpigmentation.
Glucosamine inhibits the excessive production of melanin (the pigment) and so is useful in treating hyperpigmentation.
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is an antioxidant a vital molecule for skin health. Both dietary and topical ascorbic acid have beneficial effects on skin cells.
Some studies have shown that vitamin C may help prevent and treat ultraviolet (UV) photodamage. It plays a role in helping the skin create collagen
This antioxidant helps to heal damaged skin and, in some cases, reduces the appearance of wrinkles.
Vitamin C can help skin repair sun damage.
Vitamin A as Tretinoin is a topical retinoid derived from Vitamin A. Vitamin A as Tretinoin is an extremely useful and effective way of reducing the transport of abnormal pigment to cells and so diminishing hyperpigmentation. It is also useful in preventing the lesions from acne, which can cause hyperpigmentation.
By affecting the way in which skin cells develop, Tretinoin can reduce the transport of abnormal pigment to skin cells.
It is also a powerful exfoliator and so is a useful and effective way of encouraging change in facial skin.
Azelaic acid is a natural material produced by a yeast that lives on normal skin.
It is used to clear the bumps, lesions, and swelling caused by rosacea (a skin disease that causes redness, flushing, and pimples on the face).
Azelaic acid cream is used to treat the pimples and swelling caused by acne and so is helpful in preventing hyperpigmentation.
Kojic's Acid. The primary use — and benefit —of this acid is to lighten visible sun damage, age spots, or scars.
In addition to its skin-lightening effects, kojic acid also contains antimicrobial properties and may decrease the chances of skin developing bacterial skin infections.
Kojic’s Acid can lighten the hyperpigmentation caused by sun damage, age spots and scars.
Niacinamide is the water-soluble, active form of vitamin B3. It inhibits abnormal pigment transfer and improves skin elasticity.
In multiple clinical studies, topical nicotinamide improved hyperpigmented spots and skin sallowness (yellowing)
One study showed nicotinamide could increase the skin's production of ceramides, which are natural emollients and skin protectants, improving hydration.
Niacinamide inhibits the abnormal transfer of pigment that causes hyperpigmentation. It can reduce the yellowing of the skin. It can also protect the skin and improve hydration.
Ferulic Acid is a naturally occurring antioxidant that assists with skin hydration and decreases the development of brown spots (which involve hyperpigmentation).
It protects and cares for your skin, helping to protect its integrity