Pigmentation occurs when a variety of factors cause melanocytes in the deep cell layers to produce melanin, the dark colouration on your skin. Factors such as sun exposure, hormones and scarring are all associated with the formation of hyperpigmentation.
UV rays stimulate the melanocytes to produce melanin, giving the skin a natural sun protection. Burns, eczema, acne or psoriasis can all cause post-inflammatory scarring. This is occurs when the area around the wound darkens as the healing process is taking place usually due to sun exposure. Hormones, especially during pregnancy or when taking birth control, can make you more photosensitive meaning that you react to the sun more than you normally would. Hormonal produced melasma is a pigmentation disorder often experienced during summer pregnancies. The more common term for this is the “mask of pregnancy”.
What types of treatments can I have to get rid of the pigmentation?
There are a variety of treatments that will help take care of all types of pigmentation. A course of chemical peels will help to renew the basal cell layers (where the melanin is formed) and will over time greatly reduce the appearance of the pigmentation in the skin.
Photorejuventation treatments using VPL + RF are also very effective. The Variable Pulsed Light will target the dark colouration of the pigmentation, and destroy the responsible cells while the Radio Frequency will help to target the source of the pigmentation, without heating the surrounding skin. By combining the two frequencies, we are able to target the pigmentation more effectively without the usual side effects.
Various types of facials such as microdermabrasion and hydradermabrasion can also be effective, especially for acne scarring. When combined with a medium strength glycolic peel, a microdermabrasion can help to deeply exfoliate the top layers of skin, resulting in a faster cell turnover. This helps heal the scarring faster than it could by itself.
What can I do at home?
By using various serums before and after treatments, you can help yourself to get much better results in fewer sessions. Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) works as a lightener and brightener for your skin as well as a mild tyrosinase inhibitor. Tyrosinase is the enzyme which controls the rate at which melanin is produced. When this enzyme is inhibited, the rate is zero; therefore no melanin can be produced. The main effect of Vitamin C is to lighten the pigmentation so that when you do have the treatment, so it will be easier and quicker to treat. A very successful serum is Aspect Dr™ Active C Serum. This serum uses an oil soluble form of ascorbic acid called tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, which is more easily absorbed into the deep layers of the epidermis. It is also pH neutral, so will not irritate the skin.
Serums that are directed at preventing pigmentation have a strong tyrosinase inhibitor. As mentioned before, this stops melanin being produced. This is a perfect serum to use before and after treatments, as it will prolong the results of your treatments, meaning fewer treatments in the long run. An effective serum is Aspect Dr™ Complete Pigment Serum. This serum contains Rumex Occidentalis, a strong tyrosinase inhibitor.
When combining the vitamin C and a potent tyrosinase inhibitor, you will see the lightening of pigmentation as well as the inhibition of the pigmentation forming.
You should ALWAYS use a broad spectrum sun block, even during the winter months. Reapplying this twice a day is the most effective way to help block out harmful sun which causes the pigmentation.
When and how should I use the serums?
For at least 2 weeks prior to any treatment, you should definitely be using Vitamin C morning and evening. This will help to lighten the pigmentation, making the treatment more effective. Using the tyrosinase inhibitor alongside the vitamin C will help to stop the formation of more pigment, also making the treatment more effective as it is only treating what is there, and not what is forming deep in the basal cell layer.
Once you have had the treatment, you should continue using both the vitamin C and the tyrosinase inhibitor. The inhibitor is the most important as you want to prevent the formation of new pigmentation in order to prolong the effects of your treatments. These serums can be used separately or together. If using separately, it is best to use the vitamin C in the morning, then the tyrosinase inhibitor in the evening. If using together, cocktail a mixture of the two serums on your fingertips, then apply to the face as normal. This can be done twice a day.