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Pigmentation Blog

Can Pigmentation Be Cured Permanently?

September 7, 2020

Pigmentation comes in many forms; age spots, sun spots, freckles, moles, or patches and stains as you may see with melasma.

There are several root causes of pigmentation, such as sun damage, inflammation or hormonal changes in the body, but they all lead to the same symptom; pigment-producing cells in the basal layer of the skin (known as melanocytes) produce more pigment in certain spots of the face or body, or they distribute pigment unevenly. There are many treatments that can remove existing pigmentation, but no permanent cure. To keep pigmentation away in the long-term, you will need some maintenance. Here’s how it all works.

How is pigmentation formed and why does it recur?

As mentioned above, there are cells in the deeper layers of your skin called melanocytes which produce melanin, or pigment. Ideally, that pigment would be made and distributed evenly across the skin, but we all know that isn’t always the case.

Inflammation, sun damage, or in the case of melasma and pregnancy-related pigmentation, hormones may trigger the melanocytes to over-produce pigment, leading to dark spots patched and stains.

The melanocytes are always producing some pigment, every day, which is why uneven pigmentation can return after it’s been treated.

The surface layer of our skin is 0.1-0.2mm thick and it is exfoliated or shed every four weeks. Visible pigment that gets trapped in this layer can be reformed every month as the melanocytes transfer pigment into the new skin cells in the deeper layers and these new cells make their way to the surface.

To manage pigmentation long-term, you need to remove the existing pigmentation trapped in both the surface and the deeper layers of your skin, and then use a pigment inhibiting serum and manage your triggers to keep the new pigmentation from forming.

How do you remove existing pigmentation?

There are a number of different lasers used to treat pigmentation, but it’s important to consult a professional Clinician to ensure you’re getting the right treatment for your condition.

For example, the Fraxel laser can be very effective for certain types of sun damage because it uses heat to accelerate your skin cell turnover. Pigmented cells at the surface flake off and new, healthier layers come through with a more even skin tone.

Although it works well for sun damage and age spots, if you have post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) or Melasma, the Fraxel can aggravate your skin and make the pigmentation worse.

For PIH, melasma or similar conditions, it’s often better to use a Pico laser. The Pico uses vibrational energy (barely any heat) to safely target pigmentation in your skin and break it down into tiny particles. Your body then removes those particles naturally.

You may require a few treatments to achieve your desired results. A pigment inhibiting serum and management of common triggers can help you achieve better results, and help you maintain your results long-term.

How do you keep pigmentation from returning?

There are four main considerations when it comes to managing pigmentation; UV protection, exfoliation, pigment inhibiting serums and vitamins/antioxidants.

UV Protection

First and foremost is sun protection. Regardless of the type of pigmentation you have, it can be triggered by UV exposure, so a daily physical sunblock is important. Sun damage is cumulative, and UV rays can penetrate through glass windows, so you need to wear sunblock even if you’re only outdoors for short times, such as parking the car.

Melasma, in addition to being sensitive to sunlight, can also be triggered by stress or hormonal changes in the body, so it can be helpful to manage these triggers as well.

Exfoliation

Exfoliation helps remove pigmented cells on the surface layer of your skin and promote healthy cell turnover. More importantly, exfoliation helps remove some of the dead cells on the surface of your skin so that your pigment inhibitors and active serums can penetrate and absorb more effectively.

We recommend a gentle AHA cleanser followed by an exfoliating serum. This will be better for your skin than abrasive scrubs.

Pigment Inhibiting Serum

Your melanocytes produce melanin regularly, and when you have visible pigmentation, we know that they’re overactive in their production. A good pigment inhibiting serum should have a few ingredients to inhibit the overactive melanocytes.

Symwhite (an enzyme derived from pine), Algowhite (Amla Fruit Extract) and Sepi-White are three naturally derived but powerful ingredients that inhibit pigment production in the melanocyte cells.

RejuvAus [S2] Super Whitening & Brightening Serum contains all 3, along with Vitamin B3 which can help regulate pigmentation by blocking the transfer of melanin from melanocytes into your regular skin cells.

Vitamins To Reduce Pigmentation

The most important antioxidants are Vitamins A, B and C. Vitamin A is well-known for its anti-ageing benefits, but it also promotes natural cell-turnover. Some forms of Vitamin A can make your skin more photosensitive, so be sure to practice good sun safety when you’re using it.

Vitamin B3, also known as Niacinamide, has a number of different benefits for the skin, and one of them is regulating pigment by blocking something called the PAR 2 receptors in your skin.

Cellular organs called melanosomes are responsible for transferring pigment into skin cells, and they’re activated by PAR 2 (protinase-activated receptors). Vitamin B3 can help block the PAR 2 receptors and prevent unwanted pigment from transferring onto your skin cells.

Vitamin C can also help inhibit pigmentation, but it works on a different pathway to Vitamin B3. Basically, Vitamin C inhibits tyrosinase, which is an enzyme that catalyses pigment production. It also helps to brighten your skin overall skin tone.

Professional Guidance

We’re all unique and the nature of our pigmentation will vary. While it’s good to have a general guide to treatment, UV protection and pigment-inhibiting skincare, it’s even better to have a professional Clinician to help you understand the nature of your skin, and the best treatment and maintenance plan for you.

Do you want to reduce your uneven pigmentation?

Book a complimentary, obligation-free consultation today.

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