We had another beauty talk on Instagram Live with Dr. Wilson on 7th May. The topic was hyperpigmentation as it was highly requested from many people. We asked several questions to Dr. Wilson and viewers had also the opportunity to ask theirs during the live.
Here’s a summary of our conversation and the responses from Dr. Wilson.
What is hyperpigmentation?It’s the result of too much of the melanin pigment. Melanin is the pigment that gives us our skin colour and is our skin’s natural sunscreen. It protects us from the sun as well as UV rays.
There are two types of melanin pigments:
- Eumelanin is found more in people with darker skins. It protects against UV rays so people with darker skins get fewer wrinkles. However, they can get damage from the skin which shows with an uneven pigmentation and that can make them look older.
- Pheomelanin is found more in people with lighter skins.
‘Hyper’ means too much in the wrong place. Hyperpigmentation is often referred as a cosmetic concern on the face but it can happen anywhere on the body.
What are the causes of hyperpigmentation?Melasma is one the reasons. It appears as dark patches that you get to see in few places.
It is thought to be genetics and tends to be affected by hormones. Therefore, it’s more common during pregnancies or if you’ve been on a contraceptive pill.
The areas usually affected are:
Centrofacial : forehead, nose, cheeks and upper lip
Malar: Cheeks and nose
Hyperpigmentation appears in two main colours:
- Red-ish brown: tends to be more superficial type of hyperpigmentation
- Bluey-brown: also called dermal melasma and is usually deeper and more difficult to treat.
Dermal MelasmaOther common causes are:
- Lupus: A dark patch can appear
- General health conditions that can cause hyperpigmentation
- Addison’s disease: It’s a hormonal disease and people may experience fainting, tummy pain, psychiatric problems, change in skin colour as well as the tongue and creates on the hands. The US President, JFK, was suffering from it
- Hemochromatosis: it is a disorder where the body stocks too much iron and can make you look like you have too much pigments
Certain medications can cause pigmentation problems such as minocycline which was used to treat acne.
Finally, acne can cause hyperpigmentation especially on darker skins. They tend to have a lot of pigments around acne scars. If acne is treated is under control, it can help on the pigmentation
Does it affect both men and women?Hyperpigmentation tends to affect women mainly because of hormonal changes but men can be affected too.
How can you get rid of hyperpigmentation?It depends what the cause is.
If it is acne and is treated that can make a significant difference in the appearance of hyperpigmentation.
In general sunscreen is the most important thing for preventing, treating, and stopping the recurrence of hyperpigmentation
To prevent it and skin ageing, on all skin types, it’s definitely worth to use sunscreen throughout the year.
Laser treatment should be the last resort especially for dark skins. You should make sure that the person who is doing it has knowledge on treating hyperpigmentation on dark skins.
What are the types of skin lightening agents?
Hydroquinone: had bad press over the years because of the products available in the black market with high concentration without being supervised.
The gold standard is a 4% concentration and supervised by medical professional to hyperpigmentation. It is a slow process but if managed by medical expert it gives results
Retinoid/Retinol: also called Vitamin A
Vitamin C has mild effect on hyperpigmentation
Arbutin: pre-cursor to hydroquinone derived from bearberry
What are the products that can be used to treat hyperpigmentation?Dr. Wilson recommends the following products:
Obagi products: Some are based on hydroquinone and some on Retinol/Vitamin A Retinol are used as part of a 24 weeks program. There are different ranges with different levels of hydroquinone.
Cyspera: is a new product used during a 16 weeks program which is available in beauty clinics such as Crewe Hair and Skin Clinic.
ZO Skin: some products contain Vitamin C
All the products’ descriptions can be found here
Black Venus Beauty recommends Biolissime Anti Blemish Serum as it contains arbutin.
Can I get a prescription through my GP?Unfortunately, GPs are quite limited in what they are able to prescribe.
What is the difference between skin bleaching and skin lightening?Skin bleaching is the action of getting rid of your natural skin colour from brown to lighter. Some products used for skin bleaching do have toxic components in them.
Lil’ KimSkin lightening is managing hyperpigmentation by a prescriber.
How long does it take to see results?It takes usually 5 to 6 months to see results. People with light skin may see results within 6 to 12 weeks, whereas it will take longer for people with darker skins. It’s important to commit to the treatment as it won’t go away overnight.
Is it possible to treat hyperpigmentation while pregnant?It is however there are fewer options possible during pregnancies and if you are breastfeeding too. Hydroquinone and retinol are not used because they were not tested on pregnant women. Vitamin C is mainly used to reduce hyperpigmentation during pregnancy.
Main points from the live:
Sun protection is essential for ALL skin types. The minimum Sun Protection Factor (SPF) in your sunscreen should be 30. Make sure it protects against UVA rays, which cause ageing, as well as UVB rays, which cause burning. A day cream that has SPF 30 is a great start and if it contains vitamin C it’s even better as it protects against ageing.
Sunscreen should be used by anyone who lives in sunny countries such as African countries or in the Caribbean. It will prevent prevents ageing and even skin tone on dark skins and reduce the risk to develop a skin cancer on lighter skins.
Biolissime Solar Fluid SPF50 can be used on all skin types and offers great protection against UVA & UVB.
Time: Results will not show overnight. So if you want to treat your hyperpigmentation because you have an important event to attend, make sure to give plenty of time if you want to see results.
Dr. Wilson is available for a 30 minutes online consultation on hyperpigmentation. She has offered a special price to Black Venus Beauty customers until 30th June. You may book your consultation here.