When I was 15 and returned from a beach holiday, my boyfriend kissed me and said: “I never realized you had such cute freckles!”
Quite honestly, I had never realized either, but I was flattered. When you are 15, you are easily flattered by things your boyfriend says, and, for the most part, you have no clue what freckles actually are.
Now that I am older (way older), wiser (debatable) and less easily flattered, I know that these freckles were the first hyper pigmentation that showed on my skin, and quite a few more marks have since then appeared.
So let´s today face (pun intended) the facts: Hyperpigmentation – Everything you need to know.
Brought to you in form of a highly entertaining and well structured video (*cough*), which I do recommend you watch on You Tube and in HD. If you want to bookmark something for future reference though, the facts in short are listed below.
Hyperpigmentation is caused by inflammation. There are several reasons for inflammation, but sun burn, spots and general tissue inflammation are the main culprits. When inflamed, the skin releases messenger hormones that attract cells of the immunic systems to the area of inflammation, and among these cells are melanocytes. Melanin has antioxidant properties alongside the ability to absorb UV-light. So when a spot forms, melanocytes are attracted to the area and gather there to produce melanin, which is left in form of a mark after the actual spot is gone.
Chronic sun exposure and thus slight inflammation leads to uneven distribution of melanocytes across the face, freckles and age spots are born.
It is genetically determined how susceptible you are to hyperpigmentation, but the lifestyle (sun exposure, picking spots, nutrition) has the biggest impact.
Anything that prevents inflammation will prevent the forming of hyperpigmentation. Ingredientwise look for things like bisabolol, Omega 3 fatty acids, gamma linoleic acid, green tea or liquorice extract.
SPF plays an important role in prevention as well, as it reduces inflammation caused by the sun and, on top of that, prevents the already formed hyperpigmentation from darkening.
I am sorry to break the bad news to you, but not all hyperpigmentation can be cured. If you have a scar from a spot, it can be healed. But the uneven distribution of melanocytes caused by chronic sun exposure or inflammation, aka age spots, can only be brightened. Whenever the sun hits the area, it will return.
But to make it look less obvious, exfoliation is your best friend. Both chemical and physical exfoliants work well.
Vitamin A seems to have some effect on redistributing uneven melanocytes as well, working on age spots while increasing cell turnover.
Vitamin C is brightening through inhibiting the actual process of melanin being produced.
And, to address multiple skin issues at once, try Niacinamide. It is brightening, acts as antioxidant, helps with sebum control, improves skins barrier function and is anti-inflammatory!
As a bonus tip: Don´t only rely on creams and lotion to put on your face, your nutrition plays an important role as well! All the vitamins I mentioned above are as important in your body as they are on your skin, and excess sugar leads to general inflammation in your body.
Yes, I don´t practice what I preach here either…