Skin pigmentation can appear from a very young age, or appear later on, generally triggered by hormonal changes, acne, overexposure to UV radiation, and other environmental factors.
While some love the natural charm of freckles, others make it a priority to achieve a flawless skin tone. If you are looking to even your skin tone, know that not all types of pigmentation are equal.
Differences between the Types of Pigmentation
There are different types of pigmentation, each of which have their distinctive characteristics.
#1 Freckles are small, flat brown spots that commonly appear on the face and arms. They are the most common type of skin pigmentation and can occur from childhood. They often develop after repeated exposure to sunlight, especially if you have fair skin, and so their appearance is very prominent during summer and fade away in winter.
#2 Age spots are larger, darkened patches with clearly defined edges, varying in color from grey to light brown and black. They start appearing in the thirties and occur due to skin damage and are aggravated by prolonged exposure to sunlight. With age, the skin becomes more sensitive to UV exposure, so you may find that these age spots appear even with limited time under the sun.
#3 Pregnancy mask is characterized by large brown patches that appear under the eyes, on the forehead, chin and neck. They are caused by hormonal changes that stimulate the overproduction of melanin, and can be made worse by sun UV exposure and stress. Known as “mask of pregnancy”, it often occurs in pregnant women and are commonly found affecting Asians with darker skin tones.
#4 Post-inflammatory pigmentations are caused by an injury to the skin, such as acne scarring, and burns from aggressive skin treatment such as chemical peels and dermabrasion. These dark spots are very sensitive to UV exposure and appear where the scar is healing. They can be combined with a bumpy and irregular skin, when the healing occurs on sensitive, inflamed skin.
Prevention and Reduction of Pigmentation
All skin pigmentation problems are either caused or worsened by exposure to the sun. Prevent skin pigmentation by applying quality UV protection daily, even when you don’t intend to spend time outdoors. In this case, choose a light UV protection suited to urban living, as opposed to waterproof sunblock which is too oily to be used every day.
Several options to reduce age spots
#1 Stimulate skin renewal: the first step is to moisturize and exfoliate your skin to stimulate the renewal of skin cells. This will accelerate the removal of discolored dead skin cells. Ensure you use gentle skin care products, avoid scratching or picking at your skin, and popping pimples and blemishes.
#2 Stimulate collagen production and slow down the production of melanin: Look for ingredients that stimulate collagen production, as well as slow down the production and the transfer of melanin to the surface of the skin, such as Vitamin C, Vitamin A and Babchi seed extract. Bear in mind that these products take time to show visible results, as the skin needs about 28 days to renew itself.
#3 For immediate results, consider skincare treatments that remove dark age spots already present at the surface of the skin: many solutions are now readily available: laser therapy destroys cells that produce melanin, dermabrasion and chemical peels removes outer layers of the skin, along with the discolored cells present in them. Avoid sun exposure at all costs after these treatments as they may trigger a chain reaction where your skin becomes more sensitive to UV exposure and produces more melanin to protect itself.
For post inflammatory pigmentation, acne related in particular
As long as the skin looks tender and pink, avoid exposure to sun as it will cause the new skin to darken and result in pigmentation spots. Look for ingredients which sooth and reduce skin inflammation, such as allantoin, or vitamin A. Another interesting ingredient to look out for is Centella asiatica, which offers the combined benefit of reducing inflammation as well stimulating collagen production. As a result, the healing process is accelerated, the scar less visible.
Still unsure what type of pigmentation you have or what treatment to go for? Alcheme offers a free online consultation that can help you confirm your type of you have, and provide you with a personalized skin care products guaranteed to make your dark spots fade completely.
Updated May 21, 2019