Dark Spots? Here's Everything You Need to Know About Pigmentation
If you are starting to notice dark patches on your skin that you can't seem to get rid of, you're experiencing pigmentation. And let us tell you, it's perfectly normal. In case you're not sure, we're talking about those pesky brown patches that make your skin look uneven when you have no makeup on. It's super-common to start seeing them pop up in your twenties, and trust us, they are a lot easier to prevent than treat. The simple answer to prevent it is to wear sunscreen. Every. Single. Day. But, there is lots more you need to know, so we spoke to Claudia Martius, Dermaviduals National Trainer and Skin Expert on pigmentation to give us the lowdown. Study up:
The Causes: First up, you have to know that the skin's pigment is produced by a skin cell called a melanocyte. "This pigment (melanin) is responsible for the colour of our skin, eyes and hair, but it also acts as a natural sunscreen," says Claudia. Which is why you tan in Summer. "So, hyperpigmentation (the dark patches) is caused by excess production of melanin, generally triggered by sun damage and inflammation that will result in age spots. Certain medications can also be a cause, as well as hormones and pregnancy."
When and where it shows: Pigmentation is one of the first signs of ageing (people can start to notice it in their early 20s) and it's a direct result from sun exposure, commonly seen first where you might not have been so great with the sunscreen as a kid, or in areas that were always exposed. Claudia adds, "hyperpigmentation problems start in our childhood and accumulate with ageing," says Claudia. "It traditionally shows up in sun exposed areas of the body like the face, neck, décolletage, arms and hands."
Prevention: "Pigmentation can be prevented by the daily application of products that inhibit and control the production of melanin. Keeping the integrity of the skin intact at all times and avoiding excessive peeling or inflammation is also vital to preventing pigmentation." It's crucial to maintain and improve your skin's natural functions as if you strip it, your skin will be more sensitive to the sun, and you can end up with more pigmentation. It is also important to note, you could treat pigmentation and finally get rid of it, only to have it return within one session of sunshine without SPF protection. Claudia agrees, "always cover up when you leave the house and use sunscreen. Try not to expose too much skin and be sure to wear a broad-brimmed hat and large sunglasses to cover your skin from the harsh rays of the sun. The less direct sun exposure equates to the reduced risk of pigmentation."
Treatment: "There is no easy fix. I totally understand the focus on getting rid of spots as fast as possible, but first and foremost, it's about prevention. Look for products like Niacinamide (B3) and Vitamin C (check out Kakadu Plum, that has one of the highest sources of Vitamin C) and blends of botanical extracts. Products should also contain Vitamin A to help regenerate, repair damage and keep cells healthy. Look out for green tea, a photo-protective, anti-inflammatory, free radical blocker that helps to repair UV-induced cell damage, essential fatty acids and Vitamin E that also decreases sun induced redness."
Lastly, what to avoid: "Avoid all products with fragrance or essential oils as they can be photo-sensitisers and many are known to trigger excess pigment. And only use perfume on your hair or clothes, never directly on your skin." Suprisingly, it can attract the sun and cause pigmentation in those areas.
So, now you have all of that information, simply scroll down for your treatment options. Just ensure you start now (in Autumn, through to Winter) as often ingredients used to treat pigmenation can make your skin more suceptible to sun damage. Now is the perfect time.