Pigmentation is areas of uneven skin tone, darkness, age spots or freckles. It occurs when excess melanin (skin pigment) has been stimulated. There are two different forms of pigmentation: passive and inflammatory.

Passive pigmentation comes from an internal imbalance, which activates the melanin-stimulating hormone. Inflammatory pigmentation is a result of the activation of our skin’s natural defence mechanisms, which causes melanin to move up and defend the skin against trauma.

Both forms of the condition can occur on the shoulders, neck, décolletage, hands, bikini area and face. It can affect all skin colours and all skin types and conditions.


A range of external, internal and genetic factors can cause your skin to over-pigment. Inflammatory pigmentation is typically triggered by sun exposure, the use of poor skin products, or trauma. Passive pigmentation is more likely a result of hormonal changes, pregnancy, the contraceptive pill and various medications.