Hyperpigmentation, or dark spots on the skin refers to the excessive deposition of melanin in our skin. Some common types of hyperpigmentation we are familiar with include sunspots / lentigines, freckles, melasma, seborrheic keratosis, Hori’s nevus, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation or PIH – just to name a few.
Main causes of hyperpigmentation
Main causes of hyperpigmentation are sun exposure, hormonal fluctuation, skin ageing, skin injuries or inflammation and certain illnesses and medications.
Sunlight triggers melanin production and is the leading cause of hyperpigmentation. Once dark spots have developed, sun exposure can also worsen the issue by making age spots, melasma and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation spots even darker.
Hormonal influences are the main cause of a particular kind of hyperpigmentation known as melasma or chloasma. It is very common among women and is thought to occur when the female sex hormones estrogen and progesterone stimulate the overproduction of melanin when unprotected skin is exposed to the sun.
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation or PIH, occurs following skin injury or any inflammatory process such as acne, eczema, cuts or burns etc. The skin is usually left darkened and discolored after the wound has healed. Although it can go off on its own, it may sometimes take several months before they may eventually disappear.
Active ingredients to look out for in skincare for treating pigmentation
VITAMIN C Regular application has been shown to impede melanin production by inhibiting the enzyme tyrosinase, a copper enzyme in humans that speeds up melanin production. This can help fade dark spots and lead to a more even-toned complexion.
ARBUTIN A naturally occurring extract of the bearberry plant and a natural derivative of hydroquinone, it helps to lighten hyperpigmentation by inhibiting tyrosinase activity in the skin.
TRANEXAMIC ACID A useful derivative of the amino acid lysine that inhibits the activity of melanocytes that contribute to stubborn brown patches and dark spots.
KOJIC ACID A by-product of rice fermentation used in the production of sake. It has also been found to serve as an inhibitor of unwanted pigment and is very effective at improving the appearance of inflammatory marks caused by acne.
AZLEIC ACID Derived from grains like barley, wheat and rye, azleic acid has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties that clear bacteria from pores and treat breakouts. In addition, it is also a natural botanical brightener that addresses discoloration and dark spots.
Product recommendation for pigmentation removal
One of the hot favorites among many people is the Self Defence Vitamin C, B, E & Ferulic Acid serum from Radium Skincare. Priced at S$88 for 15ml, it is an anti-pigmentation and anti-ageing product in one.
It is common knowledge that vitamins are supercharged with antioxidants and they are effective for lightening dark spots on the skin. Three of the best vitamins for lightening dark spots are vitamin C, vitamin B, and vitamin E.
Vitamin C helps your skin produce more collagen while inhibiting the formation of melanin. Vitamin B promotes collagen formation while supporting the growth of new skin cells. Vitamin E is widely used to treat scarring, which can help lighten dark spots.
And when we add ferulic acid, an antioxidant, to these vitamins, there is at least an eight-fold photoprotection that we see, simply because ferulic acid helps to boost the stability of this vitamin concoction and protects overall skin integrity by reducing the development of fine lines, dark spots and wrinkles.
Apply sparingly on clean skin, rubbing the excess into the dark spots until they disappear. Leave it on for about 5 minutes before applying your moisturizer. See the difference for yourself after 3 months!