Pigmentation, hyper pigmentation, dark spots, sun spots, melasma...these are all common ways we describe those darker skin patches that appear on our face and body, but what is pigmentation, how do we get it and what can we do to minimise the appearance of pigmentation on our skin?
What is pigmentation?
First up, let's delve deeper in to what pigmentation actually is.
Pigmentation, or hyper-pigmentation is a change to the colour of your skin. It happens when your body produces excess melanin which is what gives our skin its natural pigment. Often you'll see darker spots or small patches of dark spots on your face, around your eye area and even on your hands, sometimes referred to as liver or age spots. It can happen in all skin types and, you guessed it, are more prevalent when the sun is shining because your skin is triggered to naturally produce more melanin.
Why do I get pigmentation?
There can be several causes of pigmentation and may be linked to both internal and external factors and environment which may occur at different times in your life including:
- Medication you're taking
- Skincare that increases your photo sensitivity
- Hormonal changes including experiencing melasma during pregnancy or as a result of taking contraceptive pills
- Skin irritation or injury to the skin, including acne
- Darker skin types may be more prone to changes in pigmentation
But the most common contributor to pigmentation of the skin is sun damage, where your skin will increase its production of melanin, particularly areas that are most often exposed to the sun. Perhaps under your eye area, around your lips and on the back of your hands, essentially those areas where we're less consistent with the SPF.
Pigmentation can also occur as a result of a number of health issues too so if you're worried about this, or any changes to the pigmentation on your skin, always seek medical advice.
How can I prevent pigmentation?
Like most things, prevention is better than cure, so to minimise the chances of getting more dark spots or to prevent them appearing altogether you may want to consider the following which are tantamount to a healthy skincare regime.
Considering that sun exposure is one of the most common causes of pigmentation, it comes as no surprise that using suncream regularly is one of the best ways of preventing pigmentation. According to Healthline, it's best to ensure you're using a broad spectrum SPF with a minimum factor of 30. Worth also considering using a mineral sunscreen containing zinc or iron oxide, like Odylique's Sunscreen, which physically blocks rather than absorbs the sun's rays.
Some other easy wins when it comes to avoiding getting pigmentation are to wear a hat, sunglasses that protect your eye area and covering your skin with clothing that can block the sun light. Try to avoid being in direct sun during the middle of the day when it's at its strongest too.
For post-inflammatory pigmentation which can affect scars from cuts and scrapes and even acne, it's best to avoid picking the skin.
And last but not least, what you put into your body has a huge impact on the appearance of your skin so eating anti oxidant rich foods and avoiding alcohol intake are your secret to skincare success.
How to treat pigmentation naturally?
Whilst pigmentation is largely a cosmetic issue, there are some effective ingredients found in nature that can help to minimise the appearance of darker melanin patches on the skin. Here we share our favourite ingredients that can help treat pigmentation and some of the products you can find them in.
According to healthline, aloin, found naturally in aloe vera naturally helps to de-pigment and lighten the skin. If you find that your pigmentation appears more visible after time in the sun, then aloe's soothing and cooling properties may be the perfect remedy for you.
Find it in Terre Verdi's Nerolipom Moisturiser which is the best cream for sun aftercare according to The Scotsman to calm and soothe reddened skin.
Tomato is full of properties that help take good care of your skin, including the anti oxidant lycopene which helps protect the skin against photodamage according to a study conducted in 2011 by The British Journal of Dermatology.
Find it in Casa Mencarell's Nourishing Tomato Night Cream and Cleanser to promote soft and radiant skin.
Kakadu plum is one of the world's richest natural sources of vitamin C, a natural anti oxidant effective at helping sun damaged skin. Vitamin C is an effective skin brightener to help keep differences in skin pigment at bay.
Find it in Olixa Kakadu Plum Gummy Cleanser which also contains AHAs and phenolic acid to help to reveal younger cells underneath the skins surface and give skin a brighter appearance and smoother texture.
Rosehip oil and cacay oil
Both of these natural botanicals are abundant in vitamin A, a natural precursor to retinol which helps to boost cell turnover and brighten the skin. It gently exfoliates older, more pigmented skin cells and helps fresh new ones to surface.
Find it in Bumi Naturals' Facial Oil for a rosehip rich face oil, or Olixa's Cacay Oil blend.
And lastly, whilst pigmentation is often a totally natural occurrence, you may want to cover up the signs with a concealer like Odylique's certified organic and fairtrade concealer.