In my previous blog about different types of pigmentation I covered everything you need to know about what pigmentation is (if you haven’t read it yet, I recommend giving it a read). This blog is all about pigmentation treatment options available and generallt how to get rid of pigmentation and sun spots – which ones are worth your time and money, and which ones to avoid. Some types of pigmentation (melasma in particular) are notoriously hard to treat. But that doesn’t mean you should give up hope! In many instances with a targeted, individualised approach it is possible to minimise the appearance of pigmentation and prevent flare-ups or future pigmentation occurring on top of the existing symptoms. So if you feel like you’ve tried everything but haven’t seen any positive results as of yet, all is not lost.
A quick note, I do recommend that you seek out a professional opinion first, if you are unsure of what type of pigmentation you’re dealing with. Self-diagnosis and advice from an untrained beauty person you came across on tiktok or instagram is most likely not going to get the results your after and could make it harder for you to find an effective treatment. In addition, if you are a self-confessed sun-worshipper a skin analysis is essential to ensure there are no signs of melanoma or additional skin issues that require treatment.
With that said, if you started to experience dark patches during pregnancy, for example, it’s worth looking into the treatment options for melasma. Similarly if you burned or damaged your skin in a certain area years ago and are now experiencing pigmentation in that specific space, trying some of the at-home treatment options listed below could help. It all depends on the set of circumstances and symptoms you’re experiencing – your skin in unique, so what works for you may not work for someone else, and vice versa.
The treatments listed below are the most effective and proven to minimise the appearance of pigmentation and melasma. Usually a combination is needed depending on the severity and type of pigmentation you’re experiencing.
Always wear spf 30 and above (yes, even when it’s cloudy). This will help prevent further pigmentation from occurring and the pigmentation you currently have from worsening. This advice applies whether you are experiencing pigmentation as a result of sun damage or melasma – either way, you do not want to add to the issue you’re already trying to tackle.
If you search the internet you’ll find loads of ‘home remedies’ for pigmentation that promise excellent results. Here’s my disclaimer if you haven’t tried them all already – most of them don’t work.
You’ll be pleased to hear that the most effective solutions for pigmentation are very simple – as simple as just two readily available ingredients, in fact.
First up, Vitamin C (also known as Ascorbic Acid). Vitamin C brightens the skin and has potent antioxidant and anti-
inflammatory properties which help to prevent future pigmentation occurring and remove dead skin cells that may be darkening the skin. However, I have never known Vitamin C to eliminate all traces of pigmentation on its own (however many articles may suggest otherwise).
That’s where a group of ingredients called Tyrosinase Inhibitors come in. Tyrosinase is an enzyme found in the cells that produce melanin (melanocytes), which affects the internal process that impacts pigmentation in the skin. Melanocyte activity is impacted by UV exposure, trauma/damage to the skin, hormonal imbalances, illnesses and certain medications. Through topically applying Tyrosinase Inhibitors, we can mitigate the overactive Tyrosinase production and in turn, restore a more even skin tone to patches of skin darkened by hyperpigmentation. Unlike ‘skin bleaching’ products these formulas do not affect the colour of the surrounding skin – rather than lightening physically, they simply rebalance melanin production to restore your natural skin tone.
There are natural and medicinal forms of Tyrosinase Inhibitors – common ingredients include kojic acid, azelaic acid and arbutin. I recommend serums and or cream format applied directly to the skin. Using these types of ingredients together is a great way to begin to combat pigmentation at home, through incorporating them into your daily routine.
Some of my star pigmentation products include:
IS Clinical Brightening Complex: Shop here (this is best applied in the morning and works
brilliantly in combination with the IS clinical brightening serum
IS Clinical Brightening Serum: Shop here.
Cosmedix Brightening Serum: Shop here.
Skin Better Even Tone Correcting Serum: Shop here.
While I do recommend Tyrosinase Inhibitors, there is one ingredient I strongly suggest clients avoid – Hydroquinone.
Hydroquinone bleaches the skin, offering temporary relief from pigmentation. The issue comes when you stop using it – as on top of the ‘results’ disappearing, often the pigmentation comes back even darker than it was before starting use. I see lots of clients in my clinic who have used Hydroquinone, the result is almost always the same – pigmentation returns after use with a vengeance, getting worse each time. Avoid, avoid, avoid!
Often at-home treatments aren’t sufficient on their own – they may also take longer than you hoped to produce the result you’re looking for. That’s where clinical intervention by a skincare expert can really work wonders for skin affected by pigmentation. There are a number of in-clinic solutions available for the treatment of pigmentation – including melasma.
Skin peels: Using ingredients such as Kojic and Maldemic Acid, along with other blended peels can effectively exfoliate and help restore the skins natural functions. A course of peels is usually required.
IPL: Intense Pulsed Light therapy is incredibly restorative and healing for the skin (you can read more about IPL on my blog here) IPL is safe, relative painless and highly effective. Before IPL treatment the skin must be free of any trace of sun tan, so it’s most popular during winter months. It’s also important to note that IPL is only suitable for certain skin types, and is not to be used on melasma. Laser genesis is one of the only professional lasers approved for the treatment of melasma.
Micro-needling: Micro-needling (or Skin Pen treatment), involving tiny pinpricks in the skin, encourages collagen production and evens out the complexion – but it’s most effective when melasma is present in the upper layers of the skin. Micro-needling is a natural skin regenerator and can reduce signs of ageing and sun damage.
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