08 Sep What is skin pigmentation?
The colour of our skin is decided by how much melanin we have. There are two types of melanin, eumelanin, which is brown/black and pheomelanin which is red/yellow. Skin can have both types in different amounts, which results in the range of our natural skin colours. The more melanin, the darker our skin. Melanin protects the skin from UV damage, so the darker the skin, the less it is damaged by UV rays. If the melanin isn’t evenly spread, we get dark (or light) patches on the skin. This is often called Melasma or Hyperpigmentation. Any changes in the amount of melanin, or the type of melanin produced by the skin will change the colour of the skin. Often, unfortunately, the areas affected by melasma are on the face — forehead, cheeks and chin.
What causes skin pigmentation?
• Hyperpigmentation and melasma can be caused by:
• hormone changes (pregnancy, puberty)
• medication (including contraceptive pills, HRT, anxiety medication, heart medication, anti-depressants, anti-inflammatories, antibiotics, steroids)
• heredity (as in genetic freckles)
• prolonged sun exposure
• tanning beds
• UV light exposure
• use of lasers
• skin injury
• age (as in age spots)
• certain fragrances
• cigarette smoking
• poor nutrition
What can we do to avoid it?
There are many things that we can control in our lifestyles which will help prevent skin pigmentation problems.
• Sun protection. This is the most important thing we can do. Physical application of Zinc oxide (zinc cream) provides both UVA and UVB protection.
• Avoid heat. Excess heat stimulates melanin production in the skin.
• Avoid skin trauma: high level peels and acne can cause skin pigmentation.
• Check for hormonal imbalance.
• Eat a healthy diet. Natural levels of melanin production are helped by lots of fruit and vegetables, low processed-sugar intake, and 1.5 to 2 litres of water-based fluid intake per day.
• Zinc and Vitamin B and C supplements may also help to keep melanin production at healthy levels.
What can we do to fix it?
There are a number of treatments for problematic skin pigmentation. Skin specialists, such as Skin Correctives, take into account the cause of the problem as well as a number of other factors.
• How well does the treatment prevent the problem recurring?
• Is it a long-term, stable solution to the problem?
• Is the change just cosmetic, or are there real changes to the melanin production in the cells?
Could the treatment have any toxic effect on the particular individual?
Each individual is different. The causes of their pigmentation are different, their skin colours are different, their reaction to different treatments is different, so there is no all-encompassing solution to the problem. If you try to work it out on your own, you may be in for years of trial and error before you find a long-term, acceptable solution which is right for you. It is much better to have the testing done for you, and it could save you hundreds of dollars in failed attempts to even out your skin tone.
Skin specialists such as Skin Correctives can advise which treatments are most suitable for each individual, and can apply the appropriate treatments, at the appropriate time and in the appropriate order. The best way to treat skin discolouration is with a multi-directional approach. To treat skin pigmentation successfully you need to be patient and persistent and move forwards cautiously. Sometimes the over-the-counter remedies can do more harm than good.
These are some of the treatments which are possible. (In bold are the DMK products that we can prescribe)
- L-ascorbic acid (vitamin C): antioxidant, protects skin cells from UV damage. DIRECT DELIVERY VITAMIN C, HERBAL PIGMENT OIL, CREME CITRIQUE, FIBROMAX C
- Retinol Molecular (a topical vitamin A): increases the rate of cell turnover. REVITOSIN
- Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs): low strength exfoliants and high strength peels remove skin cells. (Suitable for lighter skins.) PRO ALPHA, MICROPEEL
- Kojic Acid: suppresses melanin production. (Effective, unstable in high light conditions.) CREME CITRIQUE, MELANOTECH CREME, MELANOTECH DROPS
- Magnesium ascorbyl phosphate: enzyme that catacalyzes the oxidisation of tyrosine into melanin and other pigments. CREME CITRIQUE
- Lemon peel oil: brightens and contains desquamating enzymes to help cleanse the skin of rough dry cell material. HERBAL PIGMENT OIL
- Hilidrys siliquosa extract: Exhibits complementary potentialities at several levels of the melanogenesis cascade and can successfully down-regulate skin pigmentation. Before melanin synthesis, it reduces the release of nitric oxide that is an important melanogenic mediator. During melanin synthesis, it inhibits the activity of tyrosinase and the synthesis of melanin. After melanin synthesis, it inhibits the dendricity of melanocytes and controls the transfer of melanosomes to keratinocytes. CREME CITRIQUE, SUPER BRIGHT, MELANOTECH CREME, MELANOTECH DROPS
- Dipotassium Glycyrrhizinate – (Liquorice) A skin conditioning agent that inhibits tyrosinase and reduces redness. MELANOTECH CREME, SUPERBRIGHT
- Morus Alba – (Mulberry) A powerful skin brightener and melanin inhibitor. MELANOTECH CREME, SUPERBRIGHT
- Anminoethylphosphinic Acid – Limits the formation of melanin by interrupting the polymerisation process. MELANOTEHC CREME
- Retinyl Palmitate – A keratolytic antioxidant with exfoliating properties that neutralise free radicals which attack the skin’s primary structures. It also extends the life of the cell and regulates cell proliferation. SUPERBRIGHT, REVITOSIN
- Arctostaphylos Uva Ursi Leaf Extract – The primary chemical constituents of this herb include glycosides (methylarbutin, ericolin), allantoin, flavonoids (quercetin, myricacitrin), tannins, hydroquinone, ellagic acid, gallic acid, malic acid and ursolic acid. It also contains vitamin A, iron, manganese, selenium and silicon. SUPERBRIGHT
- Usolic Acid – Works with phytic acid to prevent the formation of pigmentation. SUPERBRIGHT
- Phytic Acid – The principal storage form of phosphorus in many plant tissues is a strong antioxidant and tyrosinase deactivator. SUPERBRIGHT
- Aminoethylphosphonic Acid – Chelating agent, inhibits melanin (skin pigmentation) production by limiting the enzymatic activity of tyrosinase. It works synergistically with other skin brightening and inhibiting ingredients. MELNANOTECH DROPS
• Laser and IPL (intense pulsed light) devices: can remove affected skin cells and inhibit melanin production. Light is targeted at certain levels of pigmentation. Different lasers either break down the pigmentation by heating, or by causing the molecules to break down. Very effective for sun damage and hereditary conditions.
• Microdermabrasion: removes dead skin cells. (suitable for darker skins)
• Skin needling: stimulates the body’s own healing responses. Normalises melanin production.
If you have any questions, contact Karen at Skin Correctives and she will be happy to answer them — or make an appointment today!