If you’ve ever been out in the sun without sunscreen, or popped that pimple on the chin (I don’t recommend either, by the way) or just simply lived a life that involves some vino, then chances are that you’ve likely experienced some form of pigmentation at some point.
Pigmentation to the skin is what Japanese knotweed is to soil: persistent, irritating and nigh-on-impossible to see the back of.
It is one of the most common and stubborn skin issues I treat as a facialist, and I've seen a widespread increase in cases – partly due to the boom in cheap air travel and beach holidays, coupled with the stresses of modern lifestyles.
Below is an excerpt from my Financial Times HTSI column on Pigmentation. CLICK TO READ FULL COLUMN
WHAT CAUSES DARK SPOTS TO APPEAR?
When your skin is exposed to the sun, its natural protective reaction is to produce melanin, which helps to block UV radiation from further damaging our DNA and skin. Sunlight can cause melanin production to increase unevenly. Excessive melanin builds up and spills between skin cells, resulting in dark spots.
Dark spots can appear due to acne scars, ageing to nutritional deficiencies, though most are triggered by sun exposure and can appear as age spots, hormonal melasma or post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation caused by heat or friction trauma.
AM: Apply a daily dose of a potent formula like Skinceuticals Discoloration Defense Serum with its multiphase delivery of tranexamic acid, niacinamide and sulfonic acid (hepes) is a good daytime defense against stubborn brown spots.
PM: While you sleep, the skin doesn’t. It’s very much awake and regenerating, making it the best time to introduce exfoliating and lightening AHAs. To correct dark spots whilst you sleep, I suggest incorporating an overnight serum like Allies of Skin Mandelic Pigmentation Corrector Night Serum to inhibit the production of melanin.
U Beauty Resurfacing Compound is a blend of a stable form of Vitamin C, retinol, AHAs to streamline daily skincare and prevent dark spot build-up.
DOES SUN EXPOSURE CAUSE PIGMENTATION?
A lot of skin changes – including hyperpigmentation – are caused by UV damage. HEV, also known as blue light or high-energy visible light (HEV), can cause skin stress. Electronic screens and smartphones aren't the only sources of HEV; the sun also emits it. There's also evidence that blue light penetrates deeper into the dermal layer than UVA and UVB rays. One day of overexposure can undo months of treatment.
Sunscreen is always going to be your first line of defense. It should be applied on a daily basis and reapplied every two to four hours if you're spending time outside in the sun or sitting near a window.
A high-quality sunscreen should have filters like titanium dioxide and iron oxide that scatter light from HEV sources, and antioxidants because free radicals generated by UVA and pollution can also trigger pigmentation.
SOLUTION: Shiseido Expert Sun Protector Face Cream SPF 50+ glides weightlessly, without a residue and becomes more effective when exposed to water and heat. As a frequent flyer this SPF is my regular duty-free purchase.
DO RETINOIDS HELP TACKLE PIGMENTATION?
Using a topical retinoid product that treats and fades hyperpigmentation is a good preventative measure. The difference between prescriptive strength and over-the-counter (OTC) options was highlighted in my previous Financial Times column on retinol. The real results come from high strength retinoids, though OTC Retinols, have always been easier to obtain than prescription retinoids.
SOLUTION: Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Serum is a potent but non-irritating formula for nightime use. Start low, go slow with retinol to reap long-term results!
Each month in my ASK ADEELA column in Financial Times How to Spend It - I cover a skincare topic I am usually asked about the most. Drawing from my experience as a practicing Facialist I share my insights and tips to help de-mystify and simplify skincare issues.
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