Source: Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay 

In our society being dark is a horrendous crime. Who is going to tell the black badge is not a shame! But, it is scientifically proven that the colour of your skin is imparted by melanin.

Melanin is a pigment that gives skin its colour.

Melanin is produced by skin cells, melanocytes. According to Rossi and Perez, the alterations in melanocyte production or distribution of melanin result in skin hyperpigmentation disorders.

What is hyperpigmentation?

Hyperpigmentation is a skin disorder that results in patches on the skin by surplus melanin production. These patches can cover small areas, large areas, or the entire body.

There are several causes for hyperpigmentation some of them are listed below.

  • Genetics
  • UV rays, Visible light
  • Skin Inflammation (eczema, acne)
  • Skin injury ( cuts, bug bites)
  • Environmental stressor (pollution)
  • Aging
  • Medication (chemotherapy drugs)
  • Skin irritation (waxing, shaving, harsh polishes, exfoliants, scrubs, and face wash)
  • Intense heat (excessive sun exposure, hot wax)
  • Hormones (In pregnancy and in hormone replacement therapy)

Dermatologists diagnose the cause of hyperpigmentation. They take a medical history and physical examination to determine the cause. Sometimes a skin biopsy is also needed.

Types of Hyperpigmentation:

  • Melasma: This type is mainly due to hormonal changes or development during pregnancy. It occurs mostly on the stomach and face.
  • Sunspot: Sunspots occur due to over-exposure to the sun. It occurs mostly on the hands and face.
  • Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation: This type of hyperpigmentation is due to injury or inflammation of the skin. One of the common causes is acne.

How you can prevent your skin from hyperpigmentation?

Use sunscreen at least, SPF 30. To avoid excessive sun exposure wear hats and clothes that block sunlight. Avoid the sun between 10 am to 4 pm. Do not pick scabs or scars. Consume foods that are rich in vitamin B12 and antioxidants.

Treatment options - chemically!

Your dermatologist can give you the best plan of action for targeted and effective treatment. Some are described here -

  1. Chemical peels: A chemical peel works by removing the top layers of skin. This can reduce the appearance of dark spots by removing unwanted melanin from the skin. Chemical peels include AHAs like glycolic acid, BHAs like salicylic acid, and TCA.
  2. Microdermabrasion: Microdermabrasion is a non-invasive cosmetic procedure. The dermatologist rubs fine crystals onto the skin with a wand that gently exfoliates the surface, removing the top layer. People can have treatments in two weeks, or monthly, depending on their skin type
  3. Intense Pulsed Light Laser: An Intense Pulsed Light laser (IPL) uses multispectrum lights in different wavelengths to target certain colours in your skin. It’s important to consult a dermatologist before treatment.
  4. Freezing (cryotherapy): For this treatment, your dermatologist will apply liquid nitrogen to your age spots using a cotton-tipped swab. This will destroy some pigments at that spot making your skin clearer.

Skin tone can be evened at home!

Yes! It is possible, you need to act in accordance, and have a strict regime. For getting better results six steps need to be followed.

Step1: Using tender cleanser: 
First, you need to wash your face. A double cleansing method is the best way. First remove the makeup and oil, by washing, then use a creamy cleanser to rinse everything.

Step2: Exfoliate
Liquid exfoliants, like AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids e.g glycolic and lactic acids) and BHAs (beta hydroxy acids e.g salicylic acid). They just dissolve the dead skin and makes the skin even. If you don’t exfoliate, the serum and moisturizer don’t penetrate into your skin as they will block dead skin cells.

Step 3: Add gentle serum or lightening cream
Serums contain a high percentage of active ingredients that deeply hydrate your skin. Lightening creams containing licorice and kojic acid can be used.

  • Kojic acid: It helps in blocking new spots to stick around and it also fades the discolouration of the skin.
  • Niacinamide: This not only fades your dark spot and also helps in balancing out your oil production.
  • Vitamin C: It helps in fading acne scars and dark spots. It also treats inflammation on the skin.

Step 4: Retinoids
These are the smallest particle that penetrates deeply into the skin. They boost collagen and increase cell turnover for smoother and brighter skin.

Step 5: Moisturize
Moisturizer is to be included in your daily beauty regime. It hydrates your skin. It makes the outermost layer of your healthy. Apply on your skin in the morning and at night.

Step 6: Protect with SPF
Apply a layer of physical blocking sunscreen that contains zinc oxide. It should have SPF 30-50 and has a broad spectrum coverage. Use it daily. Reapply after two hours when you are out in sun. Use it more frequently if you are sweating or swimming. The more eco-based product you can introduce in your beauty regimen the more beneficial it is for your skin.

Hyperpigmentation can be treated at home, by using natural products like:

1. Apple cider vinegar

  • Apple cider vinegar contains acetic acid.
  • Method: Take 1 spoon of apple cider vinegar in that add 1 spoon of water. Apply on dark patches and leave for two to three minutes. Rinse with water.

2. Aloe vera
  • Aloin is a natural depigmenting compound that is present in aloe vera. It lightens the skin.
  • Method: Apply pure aloe vera gel to pigmented areas before bedtime. Rinse with water in the morning.

3. Green tea extract

  • Green tea extract has a depigmenting effect when applied to the skin.
  • Method: Keep a green tea bag in boiled water for three to six minutes. When cooled, remove the bag and rub it on the affected area of your skin. Repeat the process twice daily.

4. Masoor dal (red lentils)
  • Masoor dal contains antioxidants that are used in face masks, for treating hyperpigmentation.
  • Method: Soak masoor dal in water, overnight. Make a fine paste and apply it to your face for 15 minutes. Wash with cold water.

5. Milk

  • Milk, buttermilk, and even sour milk contain lactic acid which is responsible for lightening skin colouration.

6. Tomato paste

  • Tomato paste is rich in lycopene and protects the skin against short-term and long-term aspects of photo damage.

Even you are spending so much time sometimes dark spots and hyperpigmentation peeks from your skin, chances are that you could be skipping a few crucial steps required to cover pigmentation and dark spots. Use the correct method to apply makeup.

Prep and primer:

According to Mamta Mody, Beauty and Health Director, Elle 18

“Prepping the skin ensures the makeup lasts long and your base appears even. Spend time moisturising your face and under-eye with your usual moisturiser”

Then use a primer. They are used to create the base.

Colour corrector:

To cover discolouration and dark spots, the colour corrector is the best weapon. Use an orange colour corrector before applying concealer.

Full coverage concealer:

A full-coverage concealer will cover under the eye, acne, and dark areas around the mouth.

Full coverage foundation:

Apply full-coverage foundations which reduce the chance of heavy discolouration peeping through. Once it is done you can set the makeup with mineral-based powder.

Lipstick for pigmented lips:

On the pigmented lips use concealer first as suggested by Neha Parmar. According to her “It helps to minimise the appearance of the pigmentation and give a smooth base for your lipstick shade to show”

Final Outlook!

Hyperpigmentation is generally not harmful and it’s not a sign of a serious medical condition. Sometimes the dark areas fade on their own on the contrary sometimes the dark areas do not fade completely after treatment. The solutions provided do not necessarily work overnight, so you need to keep your patience. To get better results you need to follow a routine for at least a few months.

Look after yourself from within, your beauty will surely shine through on your skin!!!

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