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Pigmentation

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What is it?

In its simplest form, pigmentation is an uneven skin tone. Dark spots often resemble oversized freckles and tend to appear on the face, chest and hands. While pigmentation usually does not need to be treated, it can be a sign of damaged skin and it’s important to look out for any changes to the look or texture of pigmented areas. Sufferers may also feel they need to do something to reduce its appearance. Here’s everything you need to know…

Causes

“There are many things that can cause pigmentation,” says Gerwyn Powell, Education Manager at Kiehl’s. “[These include] hormonal fluctuations (menopause or pregnancy), medication and pollution, but the biggest challenge is photo damage caused by sun (light) exposure.” Continued exposure to UVA and UVB rays manifests itself in a number of ways, but areas of pigmentation on the skin are particularly common. The production of the pigment Melanin from UVA light causes skin to tan on holiday, but can also cause unwanted dark spots. These areas get darker the more you go in the sun, and can develop years after the damage is first done.

Prevention

The most important factor? Staying out of the sun as much as you can – and making sure you are protected when you do go outside. “Daily use of a high factor broad spectrum, photo stable SPF 30+ protecting against UVA and UVB damage is vital to block exposure to photo damage from a young age,” notes Gerwyn. Try INSTITUT ESTHEDERM Photo Reverse, a high protection cream which is designed with uneven skin tones in mind, or Darphin Environmental Shield, which has SPF 50.

What we often forget is that other light sources such as High Energy Visible Light (HEVL) are also damaging to skin. Blue light from phones and computers can encourage the development of pigmentation, so it’s crucial to try and limit your time with technology as much as you can day to day.

Treatment

While professional laser treatments are the most effective way to combat signs of pigmentation, more affordable solutions can help to fade dark spots. Talika’s at-home Pigment Control Device uses light therapy to target areas of uneven skin tone and allows you to try out a technology-led solution without the hefty price tag.

Other ways to fade pigmentation include exfoliating the skin regularly and the incorporation of Vitamin C into your routine. Vitamin C is a “potent and stabilised anti-oxidant [which helps to] neutralise free radical damage” (Gerwyn Powell) and is therefore great at helping to brighten up the complexion. Try Oskia’s luxurious Micro Exfoliating Balm to buff away dead skin cells, which in turn will aid the skin’s renewal process, freshen up the face and fade existing pigmentation.

Reach for a Vitamin-C based exfoliant such as De Mamiel Brightening Cleanse & Exfoliate for a doubly effective approach or use a vitamin-infused retinol, like the Chantecaille Retinol Intense +. Retinol boosts the skin’s healing properties, meaning it’s perfect for damaged areas. Inject some vitamin C into your daily routine with a hydrating cream like Dr Dennis Gross C+ Collagen Deep Cream.

In addition, it’s worth opting for serums and lotions with ingredients directly targeted at brightening skin, like Kiehl’s Dark Spot Correcting Serum and Eve Lom’s Brightening Lotion. Be sure to be diligent with your application, however. We also like to mix Sarah Chapman Skinesis Skin Tone Perfecting Booster in with our daily moisturiser as it helps to restore clarity and the overall appearance of skin, thanks to a cocktail of botanical extracts and antioxidants.

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