It’s stubborn, it’s persistent, and just when you think you have a handle on it, BANG, it comes back with a vengeance! Yes, we are talking about hyperpigmentation.
Hyperpigmentation is caused and exacerbated by both intrinsic and extrinsic factors. This basically means that both internal processes in our bodies, and external variables can create and contribute to hyperpigmentation. Often times it is actually both factors combined together!
There are several types of pigmentation, the main two being epidermal pigment and dermal pigment.
Epidermal pigment consists of normal tanning, freckles, solar lentigines, sunspots and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation caused by trauma, and Melasma.
Dermal pigment can be caused by prolonged tanning, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, and Melasma. Other types of dermal pigment are moles, birthmarks and reactive lesions such as dermatofibromas.
The most common cause of hyperpigmentation is the sun. Sun exposure can result in cute looking freckles, especially in young, fair skinned people. However, sun damage in early years can actually result in more serious forms of pigmentation as we age.
Hyperpigmentation caused by the sun can vary in appearance from a temporary tan and light coloured freckles, to sun spots, pigmented lesions and even Melasma as we age.
Melasma in particular, is also strongly influenced by processes in our bodies, in especially by hormonal imbalances.
Stress has a significant impact on our hormone levels, as it depletes progesterone and increases estrogen and cortisol. This results in an increase in melanocyte stimulating hormone (MSH), which means an increase in pigmentation. Hypothyroidism and Adrenal fatigue also have similar effects on progesterone, with the end result being the same!
Other internal factors which contribute to Melasma are poor liver health, as the liver helps remove excessive amounts of hormones in the body. And Poor gut health, as a gut bacteria called Estrobolome helps to metabolize estrogen, which can also help balance your MSH levels.
Other causes of pigmentation are trauma from friction, a cut, or an infection. Inflammation is also an extremely common cause of hyperpigmentation, this can be as result of a burn, heat, cellular inflammation, allergic reactions, or even waxing and plucking!
Genetic factors and autoimmune conditions are a real consideration when it comes to the formation of hyperpigmentation, as are various forms of medication.
Another common contributor to hyperpigmentation is an impaired lipid barrier, and cosmetics which increase allergic or inflammatory responses, resulting in hyperpigmentation.
Treating epidermal pigment can be done using various ingredients that target the formation of pigment through multiple processes, such as the inhibition of Tyrosinase, Tyrosine and DOPA Quinone.
Some Ingredients have the capability of blocking MSH, and others have the ability to inhibit the transfer of melanosomes (pigment parcels) into the Melanocyte (pigment cell).
Safe and effective ingredients that treat hyperpigmentation include licorice root extract, rumex , resveratrol, vitamin c and Niacinamide.
The best way of treating pigmentation is a multi-ingredient skincare approach, combined with clinical treatments such as IPL, Laser or Peels.
Pigmentation is a complicated and multifaceted disorder, therefore it’s treatment requires intervention through various pathways in order to treat this concern holistically and effectively!