When it comes to preserving a youthful and smooth complexion, wrinkles are usually the number one concern for women. Yet research suggests that hyperpigmentation can be just as much of a problem, leaving skin looking dull and adding years to your face, reports Beauty Director, Sheree Mutton.
“Colour variation is, along with wrinkles, synergistic in our appearance of ageing,” says Associate Professor Greg Goodman, from the Dermatology Institute of Victoria. In fact, one such study in Austria by doctors Karl Grammer and Bernhard Fink found that facial skin discolouration can make you look up to 12 years older. The good news is that hyperpigmentation is a common condition and can be treated with a range of new technologies and topical fading agents.
If you’re after porcelain, dewy skin like Cate Blanchett and Nicole Kidman, the first rule is to avoid long periods in the sun and wear SPF50+ sunscreen daily to protect your skin. “Make sure your sunscreen offers broad- spectrum cover against UVA and UVB,” explains Rachel McAdam, Scientific Communications and Education Manager for La Roche-Posay. “By consistently protecting skin against the sun, brown marks may begin to fade.”
Unfortunately for many of us, the sun is not our only skin enemy. Being exposed to a range of free radicals, including pollution, smoke and stress on a daily basis, can lead to dark spots as can acne. The spots that develop following a pimple are called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
Then there are hormonal changes. Pregnancy, the oral contraceptive pill and hormone replacement therapy (HRT) after menopause can all wreak havoc on the skin.
“Melasma or chloasma is partly due to a person’s skin type, with a big component due to UVA and hormones, made worse with many oral contraceptives and pregnancy,” says dermatologist Dr John Sullivan.
“Where melasma mainly affects the face [cheeks, nose, forehead and upper lip], the HRT-related one can be more the forearms or chest.”
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