Skincare Advice: Hyperpigmentation

Skincare Advice: Hyperpigmentation

Hyperpigmentation is an issue very close to my heart. So much so, I’ve actually put off writing about it. Which is strange, since my whole business was created because I suffered from hyperpigmentation in my skin. 

So why haven’t I discussed it here yet? Probably because it was a painful time during which my self-esteem plummeted.

Unfortunately, it’s not one of those quick turn-around stories where I dreamed up my skincare just days after first experiencing a change in my skin tone, designed a miracle cure and launched an immediately successful business. First I did all the wrong things.

I sought out and took all the wrong advice. I invested my money in costly beauty brands that promised me instant results and I even went for expensive and painful treatments, including laser treatment. Sometimes it would appear to work and then the next week the pigmentation would be back and worse than ever.

Of course, the more you focus on imperfections, the more you notice them. Until it becomes an almost obsession. All I wanted was to look in the mirror and see the pre-hyperpigmentation me looking back.

Sometimes I wonder why it took me so long to make my own skin cream. After all, I had all the skills and I knew deep down what my skin needed. Eventually, though, I walked into my kitchen and started mixing. And yes, my product works for me. Yes, I obviously do recommend it. But I’m not here to sell it to you. I’m here to share with you everything that I have learnt about hyperpigmentation, including the causes and the ways you can control it and I’m here because I understand how hyperpigmentation can shake your confidence and change the way you feel about yourself. So I won’t play down the effect it has or pretend it’s a problem that will ever completely go away, but, hopefully, I can give you some knowledge and advice and a little empathy too.

What Is Hyperpigmentation?

Hyperpigmentation is a skin condition which causes a discolouring spread across small or large patches. Patches are usually darker than the skin and may appear brown, red or pink. People with darker skin are more susceptible to hyperpigmentation.

Woman With hyperpigmentation Dark patches On Their Skin

Hyperpigmentation appears on the face and may be assumed to be age spots, where in fact the condition, though similar in presentation, is different. It can also present like freckles or appear in dark patches, sometimes above the top lip which can look like a facial hair shadow causing particular self-esteem problems for women. The condition is also far more common in women than men.

What Causes Hyperpigmentation?

Overproduction of melanin is the cause of hyperpigmentation and excess production of melanin is linked to changes in hormones. Hence, why it is common in pregnant women and women going through menopause. Mine began when I was on the contraceptive pill as this altered my oestrogen levels.

Although not caused by exposure to sunlight, since the melanin is stimulated into production when the skin comes into contact with light, this is when hyperpigmentation is likely to occur. That being, the condition tends to be more prominent in the summer months.

How Can Hyperpigmentation Be Treated?

Hyperpigmentation is not a condition that can be cured but it can be controlled. By protecting your skin you can avoid flare–ups. Here are a few ways you may be able to lessen the appearance of hyperpigmentation:

Take precautions in the sunlight - Hyperpigmentation loves sunlight. Light tells the skin to produce even more melatonin and the overproduction results in dark patches appearing. For this reason, hyperpigmentation can be more troublesome in warmer weather. However, it is important to protect your skin even in the colder months as the sun is still there.

Due to the huge advantages of being outdoors, including absorbing precious vitamin D, I won’t implore you to avoid going outside at all. What you will need to do though is use very high-factor SPF. Even in winter. I use factor 50 and ensure that there is SPF in all my skincare and any make-up I may wear.

Woman With Hyperpigmentation Wearing Sunhat To protect Her Skin From The Sun

Avoid blue light screens near your skin - It’s not only sunlight that can stimulate hyperpigmentation. Blue light, that radiates from your phone and tablet devices also increases melatonin production. So, using our phones close to our faces can be highly damaging. You can reduce this effect by using your devices far less, but that may not be realistic so try investing in a blue light protective cover, turning the light down and keeping screens further from your face.

Avoid aggressive products - What you need to understand is your skin is not trying to work against you, it’s trying to protect you. Therefore, if you apply aggressive products aimed at preventing it from doing what it is designed to do, it will fight back. This is why these ‘miracle formula’ products can produce visible results for a while, but don’t work long-term. In fact, what they often manage to do is make the problem more established and persistent once the skin has adapted to override these aggressive chemical products. This problem does not tend to happen with natural products. Furthermore, some of these harsher products that lean towards promising fast results and usually carry a high price tag, often use a product that is basically a bleach. Except it isn’t listed under that word on the bottle since most of us would be horrified at the idea of applying bleach to our skin. Not least because it’s not possible to restrict application only to dark patches so you end up lightening all of the skin which can even make the hyperpigmentation more visible.

Natural solutions - There are no miracle cures but there are certain ingredients that can lessen the appearance of dark spots, such as turmeric and carrot seed oil which provides some sun protection. I include both ingredients in my skincare range because hyperpigmentation is a problem that I have suffered from and many of my clients do also. 

Exfoliation also helps reduce hyperpigmentation appearance, however, it will reduce your skin's natural barrier so you must ensure that you protect your skin after exfoliating with a high SPF.

Self-Confidence And Hyperpigmentation

Usually, I’m all about letting women know that beauty comes from within and that many of the things we consider beauty ideals are manufactured to keep us spending money to achieve so-called perfection. Therefore, there is no such thing as a flaw. And yet, I have to be honest with you - my self-esteem was really rocked by hyperpigmentation and if I have a flare-up it provokes an emotional response.

Our faces are so much a part of how we see ourselves and changes to our facial complexion can make you feel like a different person. Someone you don’t recognise. So, I’m not going to tell you to embrace your hyperpigmentation BUT I will tell you not to fight it too hard. Going into battle with hyperpigmentation and using aggressive treatments will only leave you locked in a battle you cannot win and one that will exacerbate the problem. However, you can manage hyperpigmentation by being vigilant around the sun and blue light, protecting yourself with SPF, using gentle products with only natural ingredients which will not send your skin into panic mode and by keeping your skincare routine simple. 

Lastly, remember as you do all of this, and accept you will have to continue to manage this condition, that you are still beautiful and that you most probably notice your hyperpigmentation more than anyone else does so try not to let it affect your self-esteem.

There are far greater achievements to strive for than a perfect complexion and it’s all too easy to miss out on the greater joys of life when we allow physical imperfection to hijack our focus.

hyperpigmentation close up of woman's face

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