Best Practices in the Treatment of Hyperpigmentation

Best Practices in the Treatment of Hyperpigmentation

Nov, 15 2016

The hyperpigmentation that is perched on it, however, NO. We are not friends. We are enemies, and it is my chief focus in terms of corrective skin care. I wish it a grisly death many times over.

Hyperpigmentation, also known as sun spots, age spots, dark spots, brown marks and `the mask of pregnancy`, is so common among Australian women that my statistic calculator broke when I asked it for some numbers. We all have it, and while all skin tones suffer from pigmentation, those with darker Asian, Mediterranean and African skin tones are particularly prone. Especially if they have a lot of sun exposure.

IT`S REAL EASY TO GET.

Just ask any doll who`s spent a week on a beachy holiday only to return with brown smatterings across their nose, upper cheeks, upper lip and forehead and they will tell you just how easy.


Standard hyperpigmentation… Look familiar?

This is because hyperpigmentation is (most often) caused by UV exposure. Ysee, UV stimulates the pigment cells (melanocytes) in our epidermis to start making melanin. This is what causes suntans (sooo `80s) but also hyperpigmentation. Another terrific reason to not to hang out in the sun.

Sadly, most of the hyperpigmentation you`ve got now, you actually probably actually earned 20 years ago. (It takes an average of 10 years for sun damage to translate into brown spots.) It`s just being encouraged and worsened by current UV exposure. Cute!

Other causes:

Heat: Environmental heat can trigger your hyperpigmentation. This is so incredibly shit because even if you are FBI vigilant about your skin care and physical sun protection and hat and sunnies, you can still cop discolouration, because thermal heat encourages those naughty melanocytes to produce melanin.

Hormones: Hormonal hyperpigmentation looks the same as UV hyperpigmentation, but has a bitchier attitude and eats more Tim Tams. It`s generally caused by the pill or pregnancy and is further exacerbated by that big hot witch in the sky.

Injury: Know how when you pick at a pimple, you get that red-browny scar that won`t piss off, no matter how much Vitamin E oil you use on it? That`s because it`s not a scar, it`s post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, which comes about after trauma or injury to the skin. It can also happen after needles, injections, burns or any kind of inflammation.

WHY SHOULD I CARE SO MUCH ABOUT MY PIGMENTATION?

Because, to be blunt, it`s making you look older than you actually are. You see, hyperpigmentation creates uneven skin tone, which I believe is far more ageing than lines and wrinkles. 

I`m not alone in my thinking of this. In the last five years or so, you would have seen a whole bunch of new products pop up that are skin discolouration targeted. They have names like `Dark Spot Corrector` or `whitening` or `brightening` and work to fade that excess melanin to the point where your skin is brighter and in the case of Caucasian and Asian markets, whiter. They are not bleaching products. Most of the time they simply exfoliate the skin to remove the layer of skin cells with the brown spots and therefore give an overall more luminous complexion, and/or they incorporate ingredients and technology to specifically target the site of the melanin production, and put up some stop signs.

If you have hyperpigmentation, you should be using these products.

Trust me on this one. If you focus on removing (or seriously fading) those dark spots, and making your skin look as bright and luminous as possible, you won`t care about any lines and wrinkles you have. I promise! I promise. Such is the power of even skin tone. Think about women in countries that see very little sun: they may have many wrinkles, many creases, but since their skin tone is free of sun spots, they still maintain a look of youth and glow. Compare this to a woman who has spent a lot of her life in the sun, and has a face covered in dark splodges: the skin looks uneven, weathered, aged, uncared for.


This woman has had a series of intense laser treatments for her discolouration. (I think it was worth it.)
See how even though she has the same lines and creases in both pictures, she looks far younger in the right?


A study in 2010 brought this to light using photos of middle-aged women that were Photoshopped into two sets: one version with extremely uneven skin tone (“hyperpigmentation”), and one version with an abundance of deep wrinkles. Both sets of pictures were showed to a group of people who had to rate the attractiveness and youthfulness of the women`s faces. Almost unanimously the women with uneven skin tone were voted less attractive (reeeowr!) and much older than their wrinkled compatriots. Clearly we shouldn`t be judging any woman on her ageing process, digitally manipulated or otherwise, any dingus knows that, but what we can take away from this is that our brown spots age us more than our wrinkles.