Does it feel like one day, out of nowhere, tiny brown spots and brown patches appeared on your skin, particularly on the cheek area? You’re not alone. This is what is known as Hyperpigmentation, one of skin’s most frustrating conditions to treat.
These stubborn brown spots are likely to start appearing in your 20s and beyond. The umbrella term of Hyperpigmentation gets used a fair bit, and can include anything from age spots, sun spots, unevenness and a patchy skin tone. If they appear in your teens, it is highly likely that they are just in fact cute freckles (lucky you!) however, great care also needs to be taken with freckles in protecting them in staying cute. It is true that freckles can also turn into stubborn Hyperpigmentation later on.
But first, what is the difference between Pigmentation and Hyperpigmentation?
Pigmentation refers to your skin’s natural colour, and hyperpigmentation is what is used to describe when this pigmentation is interrupted, making the skin uneven in colouring. Hyperpigmentation occurs when the skin produces more melanin which is your skin going all warrior and in fact trying to protect your skin from changing colour. Hyperpigmented areas of the skin are darker in colour compared to the skin that surrounds it, making the overall appearance of the skin look uneven and sun damaged. No thanks!
What causes this change?
Sorry friends. Excessive exposure to the sun is the first culprit on the list. It's no wonder then that Hyperpigmentation will always appear where our skin has been exposed to direct sunlight, like the face, back of the hands and chest area.
It can also be caused by skin inflammation such as trauma that disrupts pigments to leak into the lower layers of our skin. If you need any more motivation to stop picking your pimples, then this should be it.
Give me a little more info, I'm all for the knowledge.
Your skin is made up of many different kinds of cells, and one of those cell types is called a melanocyte which is responsible for creating melanin. Melanin is the naturally occurring pigment in your skin that gives your skin its colour. What happens when these melanocytes are exposed to UV? They react slowly in releasing pigment granules into the skin as a means of protective mechanism to shield other cells from damaging UV rays.
What do I do if I start noticing hyperpigmentation and how to treat it? Here are some doctor approved ways to help fade these stubborn spots.
- Start wearing sunscreen every day, even during winter (winter UV rays can almost be as bad as summer UV rays). This is the first and most crucial step in preventing sun damage, protecting your skin from skin changing UV, and in treating hyperpigmentation.
- Exfoliating regularly with an exfoliator will help you lift off dull and dead skin cells to reveal the vibrant, newer skin underneath you know is there, waiting. So yes, exfoliating does help slough away any dead skin cells, most of which will also be damaged cells.
- Use loads of Vitamin C daily, regardless of your age and skin type. Not only does Vitamin C help stimulate collagen production, it is a winning ingredient in making skin brighter and even in tone. Also naturally high in antioxidants, it is effective against protection from further free radical damage (note: UV rays are free radical damage, as is pollution, smoke, environmental aggressors). Ferulic Acid is also great as it contains skin vitamins A, C, and E for all round protection while increasing photoprotection, making it perfect for minimising UV skin damage.
Generally speaking, when trying out new skin care products, look to natural solutions first, before resorting to prescription medications that may come with unwanted side effects as well as costing a small fortune. Be consistent with your skin care routine and use products that support healthy cell turnover. Added hydration is a bonus.
Don’t give up and you will start seeing your Hyperpigmentation fade slowly over time.