Hyperpigmentation can mean a potpourri of skin conditions. It refers to darker areas of skin tone on your face, hands, arms, or other parts of the body; liver/age spots and even freckles qualify. All ages and every conceivable skin type and shade can be affected. As wide-ranging as hyperpigmentation is, there's one commonality the various conditions share: each stems from an excess of melanin that deposits on the skin.
So, what causes an increase in pigment production in the first place? A simple enzyme called tyrosinase. It is a crucial part of an internal chain reaction that triggers melanin synthesis, and can result in hyperpigmentation. This special copper-containing enzyme helps bring pigment to the surface of your skin. Sometimes, however, overproduction occurs, and a darker shade results. Everything from sunlight, to stress, may play a role in hyperpigmentation, along with hormonal changes/influences, age, inflammation, skin injuries, and more.
Skin conditions that require healing, such as breakouts/acne, chicken pox, bug bites, allergic reactions, and dermatitis, have the possibility of turning into post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Think of it as a flaw in your body's wound-healing process, that leads to discoloration in the affected area. In an effort to do its job, sometimes the body goes into overdrive, and produces too much tyrosinase, thereby darkening the skin. It happens to all skin tones and can be temporary or even permanent. Sunlight is said to aggravate the condition, so be mindful to cover up, in the presence of UV & UVA rays, and make a habit of applying broad spectrum sunscreen.
Melasma – (The mask of pregnancy) Since hormones often trigger this condition, that may appear mask-like on cheeks and the chin, pregnant and menopausal women are more susceptible; but that's not always the case. For more info, check out Dr. Keira Barr's blog: “What is Melasma and do I Have it?”
Kat Burki's Bio Correcting Face Cream is specifically formulated to combat the effects of hyperpigmentation. At the same time, it also acts as a nurturing preventative, revitalizing skin tone and texture. Each nutrient serves a purpose, and additives are never used. The cream’s superpowers stem from super-nutrient complexes (a minimum of 2 ingredients) that harmonize to maximize effectiveness. Active ingredients include Glycyrrhiza Glabra Root Extract, Green Tea, Lactic Acid, Niacinamide, Aloe Barbadensis, Vitamin C, CoQ10.
By highlighting the causes and appropriate holistic treatments, you can be mindful to prevent hyperpigmentation, as well as choose the appropriate therapeutic path for your unique concerns.
* Always consult with your physician before using natural remedies to be sure they are safe for you.
This naturally occurring compound is found in the aloe plant leaf. A study found it worked well at reducing hyperpigmentation induced by UV rays, because it inhibited tyrosinase activity. Researchers examined its effects alone, and synergistically combined with arbutin (extract from the bearberry plant), which yielded better results.
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)
Vitamin C is an essential nutrient that helps with cellular repair, and strengthens immunity. A scientific study researched subjects with melasma who were given a chemical peel with alpha-hydroxy acid, and vitamin C. After 8 weeks, an overwhelming majority of participants had reduced hyperpigmentation. Another important benefit of vitamin C, is its powerful antioxidant properties that help protect skin from oxidative stress resulting from UV and UVA damage, which can contribute to hyperpigmentation.
An extract formulated from mulberry leaves, is known for its ability to lighten and also brighten skin. A study using 75% mulberry extract oil, found that it was successful at inhibiting melanin production.
Touted as a super-spice, turmeric has been relied on for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine/healing. Curcumin, its active ingredient, is an anti-inflammatory compound, often studied for anti-cancer properties. Applied on skin, turmeric extract is used to heal/prevent hyperpigmentation, aid with facial rejuvenation, lessen faint wrinkles, and fine lines, and is a natural complexion (and teeth) brightener. One research study on hyperpigmentation, compared turmeric extract with a combo of niacinamide and turmeric. Results found the ingredients worked synergistically, and were more effective together, especially for fine line reduction.
Along with all the terrific skin wellness benefits of niacinamide, its nurturing effects make it ideal for hyperpigmentation. One study instructed subjects to apply a moisturizer with 5% Niacinamide, and after 4 weeks, findings showed that it lightened skin tone, and lessened hyperpigmentation.
Licorice Extract (Glycyrrhiza Glabra Root Extract)
A chemical compound found in licorice, called Glabridin, has natural anti-inflammatory properties, and helps prevent and lighten hyperpigmentation caused by UVB rays.
Coenzyme Q10 (ubiquinone)
With a host of health benefits, Coenzyme Q10 offers powerful antioxidant properties, for your mind and body health. It’s also anti-inflammatory, and helps reduce and prevent certain types of hyperpigmentation because it’s considered a tyrosinase inhibitor.
Often used for slight to severe hyperpigmentation, lactic acid brightens skin, shrinks pores, and contributes to a more even, toned glowing complexion when applied topically, and in combination with other ingredients. Formulations include creams, peels, and exfoliants.
A natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, green tea is unoxidized tea derived from the camellia sinensis plant. Topically, it was shown to be effective in treating melasma; a study consisting of 60 women, who used a cream formulated with 2% green tea extract, found 60% improvement in the condition.
Regardless of skin type or age, it's wise to keep in mind the importance of prioritizing skin health. Use natural treatments, such as aloe and coconut oil, to promote healing when needed, and pay attention to any changes in skin pigment. When possible, reduce your intake of foods that are depleting and inflammatory, such as sugar, alcohol, white flour, and caffeine. It’s also important to lower stress levels, protect your skin from ultraviolet rays, and eat plenty of anti-inflammatory foods. Dr. Axe suggests adhering to an anti-inflammatory diet to improve and prevent hyperpigmentation, one that is rich in leafy greens, fruits, nuts, certain fish, and heart-healthy fats. With awareness and focused attention, hyperpigmentation is often preventable and treatable by gentle natural methods.