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Skin Health Emporium
Pro Skin Tips

Why Pigmentation Occurs

‘KNOWLEDGE IS POWER’ – Our world is full of all types of people with different facial shapes, peculiar hair colors, and incredibly diverse skin tones. Each person’s individuality and uniqueness makes our planet and our human experience richer! Every skin tone, every complexion, is beautiful.

But, sometimes, the pigmentation of one person’s skin can be uneven. This color imbalance can appear between different large zones of the body, or in a smaller area. When irregular pigmentation is present in the skin of the face, it can be quite distressing.

However, as we always love to say, ‘Knowledge is power’. If your skin concerns include pigmentation, there are some key facts you need to understand in order to transform your skin’s health and reach your smoothness goals.

 

The Bare Essentials: Normal Pigmentation – The color-infusing pigment in your skin is called melanin and is made (from tyrosinase, an amino acid) by specialised cells called melanocytes, under the dictates of regulating hormones. These are housed in the deepest part of the epidermis, tightly covering the structures in the dermis, which are vital to keeping your skin alive and healthy. Any human has 5-10% of melanocytes among all their skin cells.

So, what’s the point of making melanin?  The darker color of this pigment has a purpose: to better block the UV rays from the Sun in order to protect the deeper skin structures from irreparable damage. Think of it like a barrier that spreads from the melanocyte, like a protective umbrella, to the surrounding skin cells. This is why the actual pigmentation your skin shows is related not only to the number of melanocytes you have but also to how active they are.

Now, if your melanocytes didn’t do this (form a barrier of darker pigmentation to protect your skin cells from UV), you’d be in deep trouble. The radiation would penetrate the cells’ inner parts and damage their DNA and function, leading to skin that is prematurely aged or too serious illnesses. Your darkening melanocytes are doing a lot of good!

 

When it All Goes Sideways – In an ideal world, we wouldn’t be here, talking about the problems created by pigmentation. Alas, sometimes melanocytes don’t work as they should and you end up with clusters of pigment on your skin, formed by an excessive melanin production. That’s how you end up with moles and freckles in the short term, and with skin discoloration, melasma, and age spots (aka liver spots or sun spots) in the long term. It’s important to understand that skin pigmentation and discoloration can show up visibly many years after the original trigger.

 

The Main Culprits of Pigmentation – What are the factors that cause melanocytes to create that excess melanin and unwanted pigmentation? Some of the culprits are intuitive, but others can be quite unexpected!

  • UV exposure: Because of the natural mechanism of melanocytes, if you expose yourself to UV radiation, your skin will know it needs to produce melanin to protect the tender cells below. If you’re overexposing your skin to UV and not using SPF protection, you’ll probably see some damage now but— and this is spells trouble— you’ll see much more damage down the road (maybe decades from now). Start protecting early!
  • Hormonal imbalance: As you know, the activity of the cells that produce melanin is controlled and stimulated by a vast array hormones. Really, there are lots of different hormones (and combinations of them!) that can trigger melanin production, often in irregular, asymmetric patterns. Hormonal imbalance can be caused by illnesses, medications, or a harmful diet, and gets even worse if you throw in UV exposure. Truth is, you often can’t prevent it, but you can certainly treat it.
  • Pregnancy: Means a huge hormone upheaval, as well as increased sun sensitivity! It’s not surprising to see changes in pigmentation during pregnancy. The most typical concern is melasma (or chloasma), the “mask of pregnancy”, which creates patches of darker pigmentation on chin, nose, forehead, and cheeks. These tend to look symmetrical.
  • Menopause: During menopause, hormone production also varies wildly. Crucially, estrogen levels plummet. Because estrogen can keep melanocytes working normally, this change means that melanin production goes up, revealing the effects of previous UV exposure. In this period, your complexion might get generally lighter, making already present patches of pigmentation even more visible.
  • Injury and scarring: It’s no secret that, if you get a cut or burn, you have a scar to tell the story. Other injuries, such as those caused by acne issues or allergies, also leave you with changes in pigmentation.

 

 How to Target Pigmentation Like a Pro… 

If you want to fight and prevent skin pigmentation and discoloration, you are not alone! Our Skincare Experts stand behind these cutting-edge active skincare product systems:

 

1. The whole package: Brightening Kit by Aspect 

If you want to target all your pigmentation concerns without giving too much thought to it, the Brightening Kit by Aspect is your perfect choice. This is a wide-acting kit that works in tandem to improve your complexion’s tone and bring back its radiance.

The protagonists of the Brightening Kit are Aspect Purastat 5, a gentle exfoliating cleanser to prep your skin for your daily glow system, Aspect Phytostat 9, an intelligent moisturiser with plumping peptides, and two high-powered serums. These are Aspect Exfol L 17 (to refine and soothe the pores) and Aspect Pigment Punch. Pigment Punch by Aspect is designed to halt the oxidizing action of UV rays and block the formation of pigmentation at its base level.

All in all, the Brightening Kit by Aspect covers all your pigmentation needs from every angle and helps you achieve your evening-out goals every day!

2. Nourishing with Vitamin C

Vitamin C, in general, is a powerful tool to target pigmentation, as it prevents and treats the photodamaging effects of UV and contributes to the seamless healing of scars.

Extreme C 20 by Aspect contains oil-soluble Vitamin C that penetrates your skin cells to deliver  clarifying, brightening nourishment. This serum is ideal for impatient skincare lovers, as it provides a “right now” effect. Aspect Extreme C 20 not only makes your skin more even and protected but also helps fill out wrinkle areas. Instant glow up!

Include CE Tetra by Medik8 in your morning skincare regime, right after cleansing, for increased elasticity (hi, newly produced collagen) and, crucially, all-day sun protection and pigment rejuvenation. Medik8 CE Tetra pairs high-performance Vitamin C with potent antioxidant Vitamin E to maximise the restoration.

Our third world-class Vitamin C recommendation is C Tetra Vitamin Day Cream by Medik8. Silky and lightweight, this day cream is ideal to wear right under SPF and make your pigmentation repair last all day. Relish the cheerful citrus scent of Medik8 C Tetra while knowing your complexion is constantly hydrated, UV-and-pollution-protected, and in an efficient process of renewal.

3. The heavyweights: Retinol and Hydroxy Acids

The most sought-after, last-generation skincare to achieve a perfect, pigmentation-free complexion are infused with Retinol and Hydroxy Acids. While Retinol encourages skin cell turnover (say hello to new, unpigmented and radiant skin layers!), Hydroxy Acids (Lactic, Glycolic, Salicylic) can also directly regulate melanin production.

Defy by Cosmedix is a tri-acid exfoliative treatment that can be used to effectively treat even the most stubborn instances of pigmentation. Gentle and non-irritating (don’t apply around the eyes, though), Cosmedix Defy helps renew your skin cells and normalise melanocytes. Thanks to its exfoliative ingredients, this leading treatment peels away dull and lifeless dead cells to reveal a more even tone beneath.

Based on fruit acids (yes!) and an age-defying Retinol complex, Define by Cosmedix is a scientifically designed wonder. If you are new to the practice of Retinol skincare, this gentle treatment cream might just be for you. To be used 2-4 times a week, Cosmedix Define works to deliver its pigmentation-regulating components deep into the skin and resurface your naturally smooth tone. Plus, Define by Cosmedix primes and fills your complexion: maximises absorption of other vital nutrients, minimizes the signs of premature ageing.

Jumping into the deep end, Retinol 3 TR by Medik8 is an ally you’ve got to consider. An intelligent serum that releases its components slowly in order to support your natural cycle of regeneration, Medik8 Retinol TR brings clarifying and evening power to the table.

Remember: use Retinol carefully, as it can overwhelm your skin if you introduce it too fast. Ideally, start by applying twice a week for the first two weeks, then every other night for the following two, then every night. If your pigmentation issues are related to current pregnancy, avoid Retinol skincare.

4. Buckle down with the SPF

Why SPF? After knowing all you know about pigmentation, this one is a no-brainer. To effectively protect your skin from UV effects and melanin production, go with Even Up by Colorescience. This is a multifunctional complex that evens out the appearance of pigmentation with a brightening, corrective effect. Colorescience Even Up is a fail-proof way to defend your skin from UV and melanin excess while wearing a radiant makeup base.

Or, if you need something more intense, buckle down with Envirostat by Aspect Gold. This hardcore 50 SPF is super efficient (it lasts up to 4 hours and is water-resistant), but also lightweight, thanks to its dedicated formulation with non-greasy ingredients. Aspect Gold Envirostat can be used on face and body, and its Vitamin E and Aloe have a hydrating and anti-inflammatory effect. We love it!

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