Irregular pigmentation is a common concern for my patients. It can affect people of any ages, ethnicities and skin types, although darker complexions are more prone. Hyperpigmentation occurs when the skin produces too much pigment (melanin) – for example in response to UV exposure, hormonal fluctuations and inflammation (e.g. after acne). There are some effective treatments on the market such as hydroquinone and vitamin A acid, however, these are prescription-only creams and treatment should be carefully supervised by a Dermatologist, as there is the potential for side effects.
Some patients prefer over-the-counter products and SkinCeuticals has recently launched a new product, called Pigment Regulator. Impressively this has been shown in a scientific study to be as effective as the gold-standard, prescription hydroquinone. The Pigment Regulator contains kojic acid, which inhibits tyrosine, an enzyme responsible for the generation of melanin in our pigment building cells, the melanocytes. In addition, it also contains antioxidant rich emblica and an exfoliating mix to accelerate shedding of already existing melanin. In the clinic, we combine this home treatment with a weekly Pigment Balancing Masque, a peel containing high-grade L-Ascorbic acid (pure Vitamin C) and exfoliating agents, which I have seen excellent results with.
When treating irregular pigmentation, timing is crucial. The winter months are the perfect time of year to treat hyperpigmentation as the intensity of ultraviolet irradiation is reduced. This is important, as UV exposure will lead to a significantly less impressive treatment outcome. Another corner stone of treatment is therefore sun protection, sun protection and more sun protection, even in winter! Broad-spectrum UV filters with SPF 50-90 are crucial and should be re-applied regularly throughout the day for optimal results.