What is pigmentation?
The pigmentation of one’s skin is the result of millions of years of evolution, which explains the wide range of skin tones we see in every day life. People with origins close to the Equator, where the sun is the most intense, had to develop protection against dangerous UV rays. The result? An increase in the production of melanin, a natural skin and hair colourant that absorbs up to 25% more UV radiation than that of a light-skinned counterpart.
How do I prevent unbalanced pigmentation?
Pigmentation disorders are caused by a myriad of factors, which include sun damage, hormonal imbalance, and skin trauma or disease. Of all these causes, sun damage is both the most common, and the most easily prevented! Simply applying a sunscreen with a minimum SPF15 every day, and avoiding peak sun times around midday, will do a lot to prevent the sun damage that can make your skins pigment act up.
Hormonal imbalance, a cause of pigmentation mostly affecting women, can occur during any time that the body’s natural hormone balance is disturbed. These triggers can include hormonal changes, such as those that happen during the menstrual cycle, menopause, prolonged stress, pregnancy or even when taking birth control pills. Unlike pigmentation related to trauma or sun damage, hormonally-induced hyperpigmentation generally disappears when balance is restored to the body, and it can be treated during the interim period with topical skin brighteners.
The pigmentation related to skin trauma (cuts, wounds, scrapes and the like) is difficult to prevent in the cases of accidental damage to the skin. Picking at acne lesions is also, of course, a big no-no, and will only exacerbate the pigmentation associated with the wound healing.
What are my treatment options?
When it comes to hyperpigmentation (when pigment-producing cells are damaged and produce too much colour), there are two possible treatment approaches – chemical and botanical.
Chemical lighteners, predominantly those containing Hydroquinone, are recognized as effective skin lighteners. However, Hydroquinone, are recognized as effective skin lighteners. However, Hydroquinone has been linked with many negative side effects and can cause severe skin allergies and worsening of the pigmentation condition. (This is why Hydroquinone is now actually banned in much of Asia and Africa).
Botanical skin brighteners are a much safer approach for brightening the skin, and are as effective when used consistently in a professional brightening regimen. Brightening agents to look for include Licorice, Bearberry, Rice, Kiwi and Mulberry, coupled with Lactic Acid and Vitamin C. Your skin care therapist will be able to prescribe the regimen best for you, but it will most likely begin with a professional series of Power Bright Trx treatments, leading on to Expert Treatments such as Bio Surface Peel and Ion Active Power Treatments.
What results can I expect from treatment?
How much you can reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation depends largely on what is causing the problem, as well as how deeply into the skin the pigmentation extends.
Generally speaking, most people see results within 8-10 weeks of beginning a treatment program. Keep in mind, however, that all sun exposure must be avoided during this time – even one unprotected day in the sun can reverse all positive treatment results.