Pigmentation is common in people – especially women – that are approaching or in their “middle age” (around 40 to 50 years old). Hyperpigmentation can present in a number of ways:
- Age spots – darker spots on the face and hands
- Melasma – like age spots but covering a wider area or patch
Hyperpigmentation refers to a darkening of certain areas of the skin, while hypopigmentation (or vitiligo) refers to a lightening or loss of skin colour, which can happen as a result of trauma or a disease (e.g., burns, harsh treatments, or autoimmune diseases). In this blog, we’ll focus on hyperpigmentation.
What Causes Hyperpigmentation?
There are a number of factors that cause or exacerbate hyperpigmentation. These include:
- Sun damage – UV rays (even on an overcast day) causes the over-production of melanin, which can lead to a patchy darkening of the skin.
- Hormonal changes – as oestrogen and progesterone levels change with age, the skin can begin to darken in places. Hormonal pigmentation tends to happen in the centre of our faces.
- Stress – stress hormones may also have a darkening effect on our pigmentation, particularly on the outer edges of the face, as opposed to the centre.
- Skin issues – sometimes, rashes, irritations, infections, and injuries can cause patches or spots that are darker than the surrounding skin.
- Certain medications – these include some antidepressants, thyroid medication, antibiotics, antiretrovirals, certain chemotherapies; and drugs used to treat fungal infections, malaria, viruses, anxiety, and psychotic conditions.
Natural Remedies for Hyperpigmentation
If yours aren’t severe age spots or melasma, you may opt to try some at-home natural remedies to lighten the pigmentation a little. These are worth trying before exploring more intensive medical procedures.
Dab diluted apple cider vinegar onto your pigmented area with cottonwool and allow it to dry on your skin for two to three minutes. Then rinse it off with warm water.
Alternatively, blend two tablespoons of aloe vera gel with a tablespoon of honey well, allow it to sit for about 10 minutes, then apply it as a mask to your affected areas. Let it sit there for 20 to 30 minutes before rinsing it off.
Another option is to allow a green teabag to steep in boiled water for 10 minutes, then remove the bag and let it cool before wiping it over your affected areas twice a day.
For a more proactive and aggressive approach to lightening your pigmentation, salons and dermatologists may be able to assist with:
- Chemical peels – this is, basically, a skin resurfacing technique that removes the top layer of dead skin to reveal the healthier, glowy skin below. A TCA peel is often used for fine lines, wrinkles and, of course, hyperpigmentation. A TCA peel can only be done in winter, when your skin won’t likely be burnt by the heat and sun of summer when it’s in a vulnerable condition.
- Exfoliating polish – remove dead skin cells from the top layer of skin using magnesium crystals. This makes pigmented areas lighter and more evened out with the surrounding skin colour. These polishes usually have lactic acid, retinoic acid, glycolic acid, and mandelic acid. They’re gentle, but very effective.
- Medi-facials – penetrate right into the affected areas to make a significant improvement on the overall condition and health of your skin. These are far more specific and intensive than generic facials, which tend to focus on surface issues.
- Mesotherapy – for this, the doctor or dermatologist injects the agent (vitamins, hormones, plant extracts, and enzymes) right into the affected pigmented area. They’re injected at different depths to target different conditions, skin types, and severity.
- Microneedling – very fine needles are used to puncture the surface of the affected areas, stimulating the body to send healing agents (like nutrient-rich blood and collagen) to the area to repair it. As it heals the wounds, it also heals (or hugely improves the health of) the pigmented areas.
- Laser peels – your dermatologist will use wavelengths on the affected areas, which will destroy the affected cells and reduce the hyperpigmentation. This also helps to improve the overall condition and tone of your skin and is safe.
- Intense pulse light (IPL) therapy – this increases the production of collagen. Over time, this will help to reduce the darker pigmentation of the skin.
- Microdermabrasion – this is a procedure in which your skin is planed to remove the thick top layer of your skin. This is incredibly rejuvenating and helps to reduce fine lines, wrinkles, scars, stretch marks, and hyperpigmentation.
Supplements for Hyperpigmentation
Nordens Ultimate has a number of fantastic products on our online store that help to boost the health of your skin, body, and hormones.
Ultimate Hair, Skin, Nails – in addition to promoting general skin health, this product boosts your own collagen production, is an anti-inflammatory, and reduces fine lines and scarring.
Organamin – this powerful complex has 74 vitamins and minerals and has an incredible range of benefits. These include promoting skin health and reducing inflammation.
Zeolite Detox Powder – this natural detox powder helps to draw out toxins and heavy metals from the body. It makes a fantastic face mask for those battling with hyperpigmentation.
If you’re struggling with hyperpigmentation or you’d like to prevent it in the future, wearing a good sunblock with an SPF of at least 50 is essential. We love Heliocare 360, which even protects your skin from the glare and effects of light while you’re indoors, behind a window, or outside on an overcast day. It’s also very wise to wear a UV-resistant hat that has a brim wide enough to protect your face and neck.
In terms of products, use vitamin C on your face and neck, which brightens and evens out your skin tone. It also has anti-ageing and antioxidant qualities and neutralises free radicals.
Follow Dr Lapiner on Instagram too for excellent advice and insights from one of South Africa’s respected dermatologists.
“Be good to your skin. You’ll wear it every day for the rest of your life.” — Renee Rouleau