Have you heard of the term melanin? If you haven't then melanin is a natural pigment present in our hair, skin, and eyes which gives them their colour. It also shows up on the skin in the form of freckles, age spots, and brown patches. A confluence of these dark patches on the skin is called hyperpigmentation.
Did you know that because we as Indians live in the tropics, we are more prone to hyperpigmentation? We do get fewer wrinkles than people in the west but we do get more pigmentation. To understand this condition and learn how to deal with it better, we spoke to Dr Charlene DeHaven MD. Clinical Director, Innovative Skincare from iS Clinical.
"Hyperpigmentation and pigmentary irregularities can make skin appear older and less healthy. There are studies that show that someone looking at another person will perceive their age to be ten to twelve years older if that person’s face shows uneven areas of increased pigmentation", says Dr DeHaven.
There is a five-step process through which the skin shows pigmentation and let's deep dive into them.
Dr Charlene explains that the process always begins with a trigger. This could be sun exposure, stimulation from estrogen in melasma, a surgical procedure, or laser treatment. Although a variety of stimuli may set off the sequence of biochemical reactions leading to visual pigmentation, sun exposure is by far the most common. Any regimen for hyperpigmentation is doomed to fail without consistent use of a good sun care product and strict sun avoidance.
What do we tell you all the time about sunscreen guys? It's your bestie!
"Inflammation follows the trigger. Then the inflammation tends to perpetuate more inflammation and the process perpetuates itself. Since nature uses the inflammatory processes for additional purposes, including immunity and cancer surveillance, they are preserved or 'highly conserved'. Once started,
inflammation can be difficult to quiet down", she explains.
After this, the synthesis of melanin begins. According to the doctor, this is a multi-step process in itself and occurs within the tiny melanocyte, the pigment-producing cell found in the basal layer of the epidermis.
So basically, this is when the melanin production in the cell begins. The pigment-producing cell is found under the top-most layer of the skin and in the next step, it starts showing up as hyperpigmentation.
After the melanocyte packages the pigment, it transfers it to the neighboring keratinocyte and then the pigment becomes visible. So, one cell transfers the pigment to another, and thus the collection starts showing up as dark spots.
"Then, as the keratinocyte transits upwards during the normal cell turn over and exfoliation process, and the pigment is carried along with it and collects on the skin surface", says Dr Charlene DeHaven.
This means that the same pigment is carried from one cell to another and it collects on the surface of the skin which is how we can see it as a dark patch.
While you can't change your genes, some changes in your beauty regimen can make a big difference when it comes to tackling pigmentation. You should definitely use sunscreen because UV rays and blue light can make pigmentation darker.
A complete skincare routine should include four steps.
Cleansing your skin is extremely important. This gets rid of all the grime, dirt, and impurities that clog your pores and makes the skin squeaky clean.
Treating hyperpigmentation and discolouration is the next step. Look for a lightweight, concentrated, product that treats and prevents hyperpigmentation. Something that exfoliates your skin while keeping your pores clean, Dr DeHaven recommends the IS Clinical White Lightning Serum.
Follow this up with a moisturiser to really hydrate your skin and provide it with the moisture it needs and you're good.
For an AM skincare routine, applying sunscreen is essential. You should apply it even if you're home because there is some amount of sunlight that penetrates through the window and the blue light from your screens isn't great for your skin either.
Should You Be Using Mineral Or Chemical Sunscreen? We Got Dr. Reddy To Break It Down
Now that you know exactly what you need to do, it's time to say bye to hyperpigmentation!
Featured Image: Pexels