Uneven pigmentation – or hyperpigmentation – is caused by the over-production of melanin. Melanin is what gives our skin its colour and it’s produced by certain cells. If these get damaged, too much melanin is produced and the result is darker patches on the face and body.
So what causes it?
Excessive pigmentation can be brought on by hormonal changes (known as melasma), sun damage or trauma to the skin. Many women experience hyperpigmentation during pregnancy or post menopause – it can also be as a result of taking the contraceptive pill because the pill mimics the hormones you have during pregnancy. Acne can also leave dark spots and uneven skin patches.
Can the sun make it worse?
Yes – if you have dark patches or blotches on your skin, they can become way more pronounced when you’re exposed to the sun. It’s really important to protect your skin using a broad spectrum sunscreen (one that blocks both UVA and UVB).
Is there anything I can do to improve it?
Yes! The good news is that there are a number of ingredients that can help:
Number 1 – Vitamin C
The very best of these is Vitamin C. Vitamin C is probably the top ingredient in any skin care régime. It has a multitude of uses and is a powerful antioxidant, helping to reduce inflammation and protect against toxins.
When it comes to pigmentation however, Vitamin C’s power comes from the fact that it significantly inhibits a particular enzyme called tyrosinase which catalyses the production of melanin.
Think of a peeled potato or piece of fruit – how quickly does it turn black when it’s exposed to the air? This is the tyrosinase acting as an oxidant, and decreasing this activity helps to improve or reduce hyperpigmentation of the skin.
Try the ‘apple test’ using our City Defence Vitamin C Moisturiser – cut an apple in half and put City Defence on one side. See how quickly the untreated side turns brown!
Number 2 – Chromabright
This is a fabulous skin brightener which, like Vitamin C, inhibits tyrosinase up to 25%. It noticeably decreases hyperpigmented areas, evens out skin tone and reduces melasma.
Chromabright also protects from UV damage and is a safe lightening agent.
Number 3 – niacinamide (Vitamin B3)
There are many reasons why Vitamin B3 is good for your skin. It’s an essential nutrient that’s superb for the body, but in the fight against pigmentation, it protects skin from the environment and infrared light (which can stimulate an over production of pigmented cells).
It also reduces uneven pigmentation by slowing down the transfer of melanin to your skin.
Number 4 – liquorice root
The glabridin in liquorice root inhibits pigmentation and helps to lighten dark patches and even out skin tone.
There are other ingredients that can help, such as hyaluronic acid which can fade dark spots caused by acne, and Vitamin A, also known as retinol, which promotes cell turnover.
We’ve included many of these in our hyperpigmentation bundle which contains products that exfoliate, minimise pigmentation, even out skin tone and prevent further damage.
Remember – always use a broad spectrum sunscreen after applying any product that contains retinol.
For more information about skin types and ingredients, head to our FAQs.