Pigmentation

Pigmentation (also referred to as hyperpigmentation) occurs when areas of the skin darken due to an increase in melanin. It’s a very common skin concern, especially here in Australia, and it only worsens with age.

The good news is, there’s a variety of treatments that can help to address skin pigmentation.

‘I suffered from hyperpigmentation when I was pregnant with my first son. I noticed darker patches of skin show up around the sides of my forehead and around my jaw line and neck. It was really hard to cover with makeup and took ages to finally fade.’
Amy, 41

We know that it can be difficult to manage skin concerns like pigmentation, so we developed the AMPERNA® range for people like you.

All of AMPERNA®’s products have been tested on real people with real skin concerns, including pigmentation.

 

Which AMPERNA® Products can be Used by People with Pigmentation?

We recommend the whole AMPERNA® range for people with pigmentation prone skin.

AMPERNA® products contain a unique probiotic complex that delivers good bacteria to your skin gently and effectively. Our probiotic helps refresh the appearance of skin, which can help to minimise the appearance of pigmentation.

Continued use of our AMPERNA® 10% Pro+ Resurfacing Lotion helps reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, dark circles and uneven skin tone including pigmentation.

When using glycolic acid and other AHAs, always wear sunscreen and appropriate sun protection. Chemical exfoliants can increase skin’s sensitivity to the sun.

As everyone's skin is different we recommend you undertake a spot test in a small, discreet area to test for adverse reactions before using any new product.

 

What Causes Pigmentation?

Your skin gets its colour from a naturally occurring pigment called melanin. When your body makes too much melanin, your skin appears darker. There are various reasons why your body produces excess melanin – it’s good to understand the causes so that you can find the best ways to prevent or manage pigmentation flare-ups.

Sun exposure
Exposure to the sun is one of the biggest causes of pigmentation. When the skin is burnt or damaged by the sun, our body triggers an excess production of melanin in an attempt to protect itself from UV radiation. Unfortunately, this additional melanin often appears in patchy clusters on the face.

Hormones
Changes to hormones are thought to be a trigger for pigmentation, although the link is still not fully understood (Source: Dermalinstitute). Many women find that their first experience with hyperpigmentation (known specifically as Chloasma in this case) comes about when they are pregnant, using hormonal contraceptives or on Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT).

Medication
A variety of medications can cause pigmentation. According to DermNet, it can be the cause of between 10-20% of all cases!

The main drugs known to trigger pigmentation include:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Phenytoin
  • Antimalarials
  • Amiodarone
  • Antipsychotic drugs
  • Cyotoxic drugs
  • Tetracyclines

The reasons for the medication-induced pigmentation vary. Some medications react with melanin while others induce an accumulation of melanin.

Find out more about how medications can cause pigmentation on the DermNet New Zealand website.

Acne and post inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH)
Acne is another recognised pigmentation trigger, especially for those with naturally darker skin tones.

A recent study by international dermatologists in Asia found that in a group of patients who were consulting a dermatologist due to acne, 58% also had PIH. (Source: NCBI)

According to the Australian College of Dermatologists, there are two main causes of PIH:

  1. Inflammation including acne, eczema, lichen planus (a skin rash triggered by the immune system) and some allergic reactions.
  2. Trauma including surgery and the incorrect use of microdermabrasion, lasers or chemical peels.

Furthermore, the condition can be deeper and more difficult to treat because severe inflammation or trauma can ‘disrupt the bottom layer of the epidermis (first layer of the skin) causing the pigment to leak into and become trapped in the dermis (second layer of the skin).’ (Source: Australian College of Dermatologists).

They note that UV light exposure and some medications can make the condition worse.

 

Types of Skin Pigmentation

Changes to skin pigmentation can affect people of any race or skin colour. There are a variety of different types of pigmentation disorders, characterised by their appearance or how they are triggered.

Melasma
Melasma shows up on the face as brown, tan or blue-grey spots. It’s most likely to appear in the centre of the face, cheekbone or jaw line.

For some people it’s caused by sun exposure, for others it’s due to genetics or hormonal changes. The best way to prevent or minimise the appearance of melasma is to avoid the sun or ensure that you protect yourself from the sun as much as possible. Read our page on sunburn to find out about recommendations for sun protection.

Aside from regular application of sunscreen, there are some medications such as 4% hydroquinone and other fading creams that can be applied (Source: Medicinenet.com).

Chloasma
When melasma appears during pregnancy, it’s referred to as Chloasma. Also known as ‘the mask of pregnancy’, some people believe it to be caused by the presence of increased levels of progesterone, however, the exact cause is yet to be confirmed.

Women with light brown skin colouration living in regions with intense sun exposure are more likely to develop these patches. The patches usually fade over a period of several months after giving birth, though they may last for several years for some women. (Source: Pregnancy Birth & Baby).

As with melasma, the only ‘prevention’ is to ensure that you protect yourself from UV exposure both during and after pregnancy – dark patches can continue to appear after birth due to changes in hormonal levels.

Speak to your doctor about creams that may help to reduce or fade the spots over time.

Age spots
Age spots are also known as liver spots. They most often appear on the face, hands, shoulders and arms and are usually tan, brown or black in colour.

While they are most common in people over 50, younger people can get them if they spend a lot of time in the sun.

Age spots are usually harmless and don’t require medical care. If you notice that an age spot has darkened or changed in size or appearance, it’s a good idea to get it checked out by a GP or skin specialist.

Ephelides (freckles)
You probably know what freckles look like, but do you know what causes them?

Freckles are triggered by exposure to the sun and are more common in fair skinned or red haired people. While some people’s freckles are always in abundance, others find that they almost completely fade in winter and return in summer.

 

What are the Best Treatments for Skin Pigmentation?

There are three types of skincare treatments that can help to fade pigmentation marks.

These include:

  • Physical exfoliants which can help to speed up the renewal of the top layer of skin
  • Chemical exfoliants that can penetrate more deeply into the skin
  • Actives that can help to brighten the skin (Source: www.adorebeauty.com.au)

Physical exfoliants
Your skin naturally renews itself by shedding its upper layers (epidermis) over time.

Pigmentation spots contained in this upper layer of skin will usually fade with time. However, the amount of time required will depend on the type of pigmentation you have and its severity. Physical exfoliants can help to speed up the skin’s natural rate of exfoliation (but can’t reach the deeper layers of skin).

One example of a physical exfoliant is the Clarisonic Smart Profile Cleaning System. Find out more about this product on the Adore Beauty website.

Chemical exfoliants
Chemical exfoliants work by penetrating deep into the skin’s layers over time.

AMPERNA®’s 10% Pro+ Resurfacing Lotion is a great exfoliant that contains 10% glycoic acid and antioxidants that can help to slough off the top layer of damaged skin and improve the skin’s texture.

Other ingredients that can work as chemical exfoliants include salicylic acid, lactic acid and fruit acids.

Serums containing brightening actives
Vitamin C can be highly effective at brightening the skin, making it a great treatment for pigmentation. Also known as Ascorbic Acid, it has antioxidant properties that can help to boost the skin’s defence against UV damage.

Products like our AMPERNA® Pro+ Vitamin C Hyaluronic Serum - are great for people with pigmentation prone skin.

Find out why more about the benefits of Vitamin C and why it was the most searched for beauty product of 2017 in this article by the UK Daily Telegraph.

You can read reviews of how our products have helped other people with similar skin conditions here.

 

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. If symptoms persist, we recommend that you see your GP or dermatologist.