The best accessory you can have during summer is a glowing and flawless complexion. Unfortunately for many of us, when the sun heats up during summer is also when we can become as patchy as the bananas in our fruit bowl. Prefer the peachy look instead? …Read on!
Pigmentation occurs when your melanin (the skin cells responsible for whether you’re a J Lo or an Emma Stone), deposit pigment in the visible layer of skin, usually in uneven blotches. The condition can be triggered by many causes including a gift from your parents (genetic predisposition), hormones, stress and damage to the skin, but one of the largest and most preventable factors is the sun.
It’s like a naughty summer fling. It makes us feel oh so good at the time, but a little down the track may leave a nasty reminder why we should always stay protected. Apart from ageing and preventing the luminosity of a glowing complexion, pigmentation can be difficult to treat so always remember prevent, prevent, prevent!
While there are internal causes to the condition that are best to seek the advice of a GP or dermatologist, follow these tips as a good basis for your defence against this summer’s heartbreaker.
#1 – Sun block
I don’t like the smell. I hate the greasy feel. It puts stains on my kaftan. No, this is a non-negotiable! There is no excuse for not keeping your skin protected with a good quality sunscreen that can stop pigmentation from forming in the first place. Even if you tan easily, most of us are not engineered for constant exposure to the harsh Australian climate without experiencing ageing effects such as wrinkles and pigmentation, as well as life threatening skin cancers.
With countless information available on what the best sunscreen method is for protecting your skin whilst getting enough Vitamin D, the options can be overwhelming. As a guide, if you work outside during the middle of the day or have recently undergone a treatment that has left your skin vulnerable, use a sun block that contains zinc oxide. It is a physical blocker of UV rays and is great for healing and calming the skin. A sun block containing zinc will also generally need to use less chemical agents that act as UV absorbers but can be irritating to sensitive skin.
Another tip: make sure the product is broad spectrum, which means it protects against both UVA and UVB rays. What’s the difference? Think A for Ageing (deep penetrating rays which destroy collagen and cause cancer) and B for Burning (shallow penetrating rays that stimulate melanin and increase your risk of pigmentation).
#2 – Skin Brightening and Exfoliation
A combination of skin brightening serums and exfoliation can dramatically reduce pigmentation and prevent it from reoccurring. Popular skin brightening ingredients such as vitamin C, niacinamide, licorice extracts and azelaic acid, can help block the process of melanin from producing pigment and enhance the generation of new cells.
By combining this with an exfoliation serum such as an alpha hydroxy acid, you can gently and gradually remove the pigmentation of the top layer and replace it with new and fresh skin cells to even out your skin tone. If you’ve never used these products before, see a dermal therapist. A good skincare regime could be the end of your pigmentation woes.
#3 – Avoid Inflammation
Post inflammatory pigmentation is a slap in the face when you are supposed to be enjoying the effects of your beauty treatment. If you are undertaking treatments that can cause inflammation in the skin such as waxing or lasers, it is vital to keep the treated areas out of the sun and cool, for up to 2 weeks after the treatment.
While the skin is recovering, further damage or irritation can cause the melanocytes to stimulate further and cause pigmentation in the treated areas. Have you ever wondered why you end up with a darkened spot when you give in to the urge to squeeze that pesky pimple?
If your pigmentation is noticeably darkened and found on the forehead, cheeks and upper lip, you could be suffering from hormone related melasma, often called ‘the pregnancy mask’. As much as you try, this may only be improved in the hands of a professional who can prescribe hormone-altering medications, laser or strong exfoliation therapies and skin care with a high concentrations of ingredients that will block melanin from producing pigment. If you are in Australia, Melbourne Laser & Aesthetic Centre can be the best option for you.
In addition to this, always remember that prevention of worsening the condition with excess sun exposure is vital. Unfortunately if you’ve suffered pigmentation once, it’s most likely going to follow you around forever.
#4 – Stock up on Stylish Hats and Shades
Last but not least, if you’re prone to pigmentation, use it as an excuse to spend a little extra on a killer summer protection wardrobe. Cue vintage hats, leather baseball caps and oversized shades!