Skincare

This is how you can get rid of skin hyperpigmentation

For good.

By Amber Elias
Hyperpigmentation is a common skin condition that can affect almost anyone.
It becomes particularly obvious as we get older, and have spent more time in the sun.
The good news is that hyperpigmentation can be treated with a range of new technologies and topical fading agents.

What causes skin hyperpigmentation?

Skin hyperpigmentation is caused when the melanin levels in the skin increase, creating brown spots, patches and areas of discolouration, often on the face and areas frequently exposed to the sun.
Sun damage
One of the most common forms of hyperpigmentation is damage caused by UVA/UVB rays which can result in a tan, freckles and sun spots. Wearing sunscreen everyday (yes, even when it's cloudy and during winter) will stop harmful rays form reaching 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."
Melasma
This is more specific than sun damage, and is caused by hormonal changes including those from pregnancy, the oral contraceptive pill and hormone replacement therapy (HRT) after menopause.
"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."
Acne
Unfortunately if you have suffered from acne, you might also suffer from post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Occurring in areas where you've had acne, this skin discolouration is a side effect of the skin's healing process.

What at-home topical skin care ingredients should you use?

Look for products containing vitamin C in levels above 25 per cent and vitamin A in the form of retinol (in varying percentages). Ideally, you would use a vitamin C serum during the day (followed by sunscreen) and a retinol product at night. However if you are pregnant, you are advised not to use any form of vitamin A and should check with your doctor.
Chemical exfoliation using Alpha Hydroxy Acids (such as lactic acid and glycolic acid) are also good to use to gently remove the top, dead layers of skin and increase cell turnover.

What are the in-salon treatment options?

Yes, an in-salon treatment by a trained professional can also help treat hyperpigmentation.
"The best candidate for any sort of pigmentation treatment is someone with fair skin as there's less chance of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH)," says Natalie Abouchar, registered nurse and founder of Privée Clinic in Sydney. "Darker skin types can still be treated, however, the treatment they choose will need to be adjusted to suit their skin type."
Option include:
Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)
IPL uses broad-spectrum light to break down melanin pockets within the skin into smaller pieces, which are then removed by the body's natural lymphatic draining.
A chemical peel
Cosmelan is a specific type of chemical peel that targets all types of brown patches and skin discolorations, including melasma, explains Natalie. It works by decreasing the skin's melanin production by inhibiting the enzyme tyrosinase (responsible for creating melanin) within the body. A mask is applied to the skin which is left on for a period of time, and then washed off. Afterwards, clients will notice significant skin peeling, redness, sensitivity and mild swelling which can last up to five days after treatment.