Whether you’ve spent too much time in the sun without sunscreen or have experienced hormonal fluctuations (haven’t we all?) after going off the contraceptive pill or having a baby, you may notice more prevalent dark spots on your cheeks, forehead and upper lip area. The culprit? Pigmentation.
The truth is, pigmentation is a common skincare complaint amongst women and men (although it’s more prevalent in women) and can flare up in warmer months, as you spend more time in the sun. The not-so-good news is that studies show that pigmentation and an uneven skin tone can make a person look up to 20 years older!
While not all types of pigmentation are avoidable, there’s a lot you can do to protect and treat dark marks, sunspots, and age spots on your skin – and it starts with taking the right preventative steps as well as caring for your skin, from the inside out.
But first, let’s look at the types of pigmentation which may affect your skin.
6 types of pigmentation
Hyperpigmentation refers to areas of skin that are darker than the surrounding skin.
Causes: Sun exposure, acne, inflammation
The most common types of hyperpigmentation are melasma, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, age spots and sunspots – all discussed below:
Melasma is a specific type of hyperpigmentation that’s characterized by patches of dark, discolored skin that typically appear on the face, but can also flare up on the neck and forearms.
Causes: Hormonal changes (such as during pregnancy or while taking birth control pills), sun exposure, and genetics.
While both hyperpigmentation and melasma involve an excess of melanin in the skin, the causes and specific appearance of each condition can be different. If you’re unsure what type of pigmentation you have, it’s a good idea to see a dermatologist.
3 Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH)
PIH is a type of hyperpigmentation that occurs after skin inflammation or injuries such as acne or eczema. It causes dark spots or patches to appear on the skin, which can take months to fade.
4 Age/sun spots
Also known as liver spots or sunspots, age spots are flat brown spots that appear on areas of the skin that have been exposed to the sun such as the face, hands, and arms.
This is the opposite of hyperpigmentation, where areas of skin are lighter than the surrounding skin rather than darker.
Causes: Conditions such as vitiligo or albinism contribute to hypopigmentation.
Vitiligo is a skin condition that can last a long time and is identified by patches of skin that lose their pigment, or color.
Causes: Doctors don't fully understand what causes vitiligo, but it's believed to be related to the immune system attacking and damaging the cells in our skin that produce pigment (called melanocytes).
How to treat hyperpigmentation
When it comes to minimzing the appearance of pigmentation on your skin, specific nutrients can help. Here are just a few examples:
- Vitamin C: This powerful antioxidant can help brighten skin and reduce the appearance of dark spots.
- Vitamin E: Another antioxidant, vitamin E can help protect the skin from damage and promote healing.
- Vitamin A: This nutrient is important for skin health and can help regulate the production of melanin.
- Niacinamide: Also known as vitamin B3, niacinamide can help reduce hyperpigmentation and improve skin texture.
- Zinc: This mineral is essential for skin health and can help reduce inflammation and hyperpigmentation.
- Other nutrients that can be beneficial for the skin include selenium and omega-3 fatty acids.
Can antioxidants help to treat pigmentation?
They can, indeed! Antioxidants play a key role in treating hyperpigmentation because they help to protect the skin from further damage and work to brighten and even out the skin tone, creating a gorgeous, healthy glow.
For instance, resveratrol, found in red wine, is a potent antioxidant that's been shown to have skin-brightening effects and may help to reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation.
Some studies have suggested that co-enzyme Q10 (CoQ10) may also have some potential benefits for hyperpigmentation. For example, a small study found that topical application of a cream containing CoQ10 and vitamin E helped to reduce the appearance of dark spots and uneven skin tone.
As a nutrient, coQ10 prevents further damage to the skin, as it can help to neutralize free radicals and protect against oxidative stress, which can contribute to the development of hyperpigmentation.
The flavonoid quercetin, found in many plants, has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. One study found that quercetin helped to reduce the formation of dark spots and even out the skin tone in a small group of participants.
An all-in-one solution
Rather than spending countless hours searching for these ingredients online or in the pharmacy aisles, you can find them all in just the right quantities in our ageless skin VITAMINS. Just two supplements a day will protect your skin from harsh environmental factors, whilst taking care of fine lines, wrinkles and an uneven skin tone characterized by age spots and sunspots.
Hyperpigmentation also responds well to topical treatments, such as hydroquinone, retinoids, and vitamin C, as well as chemical peels and laser treatments. It’s important to protect your skin from further sun damage by wearing sunscreen and protective clothing, as sun exposure is your worst enemy when it comes to hyperpigmentation. So be sure to take care on sunny days!
You are beautiful!
While skin pigmentation, especially around the face takes away from that narrative of “perfect skin” it’s important to remember that no matter what you are battling physically or internally, you are beautiful in every way.
There is no shame seeking solutions for skin pigmentation, nor is there shame for loving the marks that make you different. Just remember, we are here to support you through your journey to loving yourself and achieving that self-confidence from within.