When your skin tone becomes mottled, patchy, uneven, or spotted, overactive melanocytes are the cause. These specialized cells produce melanin, the brown, yellow, or red pigment that gives our skin its natural tone/color.
Hyperpigmentation (discoloration) occurs when melanocytes over produce melanin as a result of environmental damage, injury to the skin, or internal changes within our body. Your skin’s natural tone and ethnic background are important factors in determining the best treatment path for your skin.
SUN DAMAGE / A HEALTHY TAN DOES NOT EXIST
Sun damage not only contributes to age spots, discolorations, and hypo-pigmentation (or pigment loss/white spots), it accelerates the aging process by encouraging the epidermis to thicken, while contributing to collagen breakdown. The fibrous collagen and elastin network of the skin is what gives us our firmness. When it’s damaged, deep wrinkles and laxity is enhanced.
Thickening of the skin may increase the risk of dehydration and capillary damage - those tiny little blood vessels can be a complicated problem to fix later on. Dehydration can cause multiple skin issues into the fall and winter months if it’s not resolved. This occurs when very superficial layers of skin cells become fused and create a barrier over the skin, increasing pore size, contributing to breakouts, and enhancing the look of fine lines.
MELASMA / HORMONALLY INDUCED
Oral contraceptives, pregnancy, and nursing are the most common causes of melasma; however, some women experience the condition into menopausal years. Its depth and severity can vary per person and–because it is related to internal changes in the body–the condition cannot be cured, only managed.
Melasma is characterized by dark, irregular, and undefined dark patches, and is primarily found on the upper lip, along the jaw line, and cheeks. However, some women can experience “mother’s mask” over the entire face. Sun exposure is one of the primary stimulants of this condition, but unlike sun damaged skin, melasma may also be stimulated by heat, exercise, and aggressive exfoliation.
POST-INFLAMMATORY / THE FAUX SCAR
Red or brown circular spots that surface from acne blemishes, cuts or other trauma to the skin is called Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH) because it stems from deep inflammation of the skin. Learn more about PIH on our blog post Scar Prevention and Correction.
Free radicals amplify melanocyte activity and have the ability to hypo- and hyperpigment the skin. Topical antioxidants, including L-ascorbic acid (found in Mega C and High-Potent C) and alpha lipoic acid (found in Rapid Renewal) help scavenge free radicals, prevent ROS induced pigmentation, and encourage repair of the dermal matrix and collagen synthesis.
Refine and resurface very superficial layers of dead cells that contain melanin. They also help alleviate dehydration by dissolving bound skin cells and encourage healthy regeneration. Normal to dry skin types should opt for a alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) and oily skin types benefit from a blend of AHA and salicylic acid (beta hydroxy acid).
Kojic acid, azelaic acid, and hydroquinone are the most notable ingredients to reduce melanin synthesis and improve the look of discolorations and age spots. However, there are also several plant extracts that have proven to be beneficial at reducing melanocyte triggers and encouraging a more even tone.
Apply it 365 days of the year to skin that is exposed to the sun: face, hands, arms, and legs. Polar nights can be an exception. Sunscreen is your #1 anti-aging ingredient because it is specially formulated to shield your skin from penetrating UV radiation.
Each of these products can be added to your existing skin care regimen to promote brighter, healthier skin. Our signature Lighten More serum combines these 3 ingredients together to improve skin tone and texture.
BRIGHTENING SKIN CARE