We’re talking about spots this month… specifically the forms of Hyper(too much)pigmentation containing melanin. If you missed our last post, take a minute to catch up with a review of the types and causes of pigmentation. The pigment production process has MANYdifferent stages, so a good treatment plan should address multiple parts of the process, helping you to lift it much more effectively. Here are some basic guidelines for correcting hyperpigmentation.
- Over-exfoliate– I know, it’s so easy to believe that you can polish or scrub the spots off, but without proper pre-treatment and by causing to much friction and trauma, you’ll be making the problem worse by speeding up the production of pigment in the lower layers of the skin.
- Be too aggressive– If ever there was a time when the “Less is More” philosophy was called for, it is here. More is NOT better where hyperpigmentation is concerned. So many patients over the years have tried to address this condition by using high percentage/strong topicals, bigger peels, stronger/more powerful light-based treatments, only to have the pigment return,but worse. This “rebounding” effect is real and can cause more anxiety, wasted time and money. It’s much better to work with the skin and body, than to attack it.
- Prep for treatments– we’ve established that heat, trauma and friction stimulate the production of more melanin. Since many of our professional treatments utilize these very mechanisms to lift existing pigment, it’s incredibly important for you to prep for your treatments by suppressing the formation of pigment beforehand. How long beforehand? At least three weeks. What do we mean by “prepping”?
- Using brightening/lightening skincare at home on a regular basis.Your skincare professional should be suggesting a good regimen of pigment control products to use at home that include brightening ingredients like kojic acid, azelaic acid, L-arbutin,phytic acid, L-ascorbic acid, glycyrrhiza glabra (licorice root) extract, Niacinamide, and even low-dose hydroquinone(for short periods). Retinoidscan also be very helpful when used in combination with other brighteners. You may need to start your home use of these brightening products slowly and increase slowly as tolerated, depending on the formula you choose.
- Use good treatment intervals– Once you’re ready to begin your treatment regimen, spacing them appropriately is important too. If you’re going to have IPL or LASER treatments, your medical professional will have specific recommendations based on the manufacturers specs – usually every 3-4 weeks depending on the technology. Careful microdermabrasion for the correct skin type with pigmentation issues, can be done every 3 weeks. Customized peels are our preferred treatment for all types of hyperpigmentation and can also be done every 3 weeks. These intervals allow us to lift pigmentation and to re-treat inside the skin renewal cycle, beforeyour skin replaces itself.
- Protect– it’s incredibly important to use a mineral-based, broad spectrum SPF of 30 or more every day on exposed skin to avoid UV exposure. Wearing a wide-brimmed hatand UV protecting clothing is very helpful – especially if you must be exposed to the elements for a long period of time. Avoiding other sources of inflammation, like dietary and lifestyle stress, is important as well.
In the Chrysalis, every pigment control treatment and program is customized specifically for YOU. Stay with us next time as we explore strategies for helping you reduce inflammation and clear your pigmentation more effectively, from the Skinside Out.