Skin pigmentation, hyperpigmentation, chloasma, dark spots, mask of pregnancy, melasma, age spots, pimple scarring, sun damage … whatever it is called, we don’t like it and we don’t want it on our faces.
I first noticed pigmentation in my early 20s – a darkened patch of skin around my orbital bone under my eyes, and even more embarrassingly, a dark patch above my top lip that looked like five o’clock shadow.
Just the sort of look every girl dreams of – not!
It got worse again in my mid 20s when I developed polycystic ovary syndrome and my hormones went psychotic. When I became pregnant, it was even more pronounced with splashes of dark patches on my forehead, eyes, mouth and chin.
Looking back over the years, every time my hormones had a wobble, my skin developed pigmentation.
It’s not pretty and it’s not desirable and it’s not easy to get rid of. It takes time, a bit of effort and SPF. Lots of SPF!
The way I deal with my skin pigmentation is to follow a simple four-step skincare and makeup regime.
Use a good exfoliator to encourage skin renewal. Something with enzyme or alpha hydroxy acids is best.
Treat the skin pigmentation with a quality product specifically designed to correct dark spots.
You’re looking for something with ingredients like alpha hydroxy, lactic, citric and salicylic acids, which increase skin turnover to shed pigmentation in surface layers of the skin. Dermatologists can prescribe hydroquinone but many people experience skin irritation.
SPF, SPF, SPF! I cannot stress this point strongly enough. You want at least SPF 25+ and it needs to be applied to the skin after cleansing and/or toning and reapplied during the day. Almost every product I put on my face in the morning has some level of sun protection factor. I find it hard to reapply a cream or lotion during the day because it messes up my makeup (I’m vain like that) so I avoid the sun during peak UV times and pat on some tinted sunscreen. In the height of summer, I use a spray sunscreen on my face (just close my eyes and don’t breathe in while applying!).
Using the exfoliating and treatment products to encourage skin turnover also makes the skin sun sensitive, so it is even more important to use a quality sunscreen daily. Avoid being in full sunlight when the UV level is highest (usually between 10am to 3pm) and slip, slop, slap. Wear quality sunglasses with a Category 3 lens and wear a hat when you’re out and about. Be careful about the perfumes you wear and where you apply them, as sun can react with the ingredients and cause pigmentation on your skin.
Makeup is also a weapon in my arsenal to deal with skin pigmentation.
I work a good combination of concealers to cover pigmentation. A lovely creamy one for under the eyes, and one with a firmer consistency for other areas of your face like forehead, mouth and chin. Concealers with SPF are an even better choice.
For the pigmentation on my orbital bones, I take my blusher a little bit higher on my cheekbone which blurs the pigmentation.
Highlighters and illuminators brighten the area for pigmentation on your forehead and around your cheekbones. They are not advised anywhere else on the face!
I find a good hydrating foundation blurs skin imperfections. And I buff mineral powder over the pigmented areas.
The other thing that worked for me was visiting my GP for a referral to an endocrinologist and developing a hormone management plan.
For me, the trigger for skin pigmentation is unbalanced hormones. Without sorting this aspect out, any topical applications won’t have the same effect. But everyone is different.
Your skin pigmentation may be from scarring from picking at a pimple, or perhaps sun damage. Unfortunately, you can’t treat pigmentation while you’re pregnant.
There are further professional treatments that you can have done to treat hyperpigmentation such as IPL or Fraxel, and beauty salon treatments.
I haven’t tried laser treatment, and I’ve found that I’ve achieved better results using really good quality products at home regularly than committing to an expensive series of facials. Although, if you have the spare cash, please go right ahead because a regular treatment will help and visiting a day spa is just a lovely experience and will make you feel fantastic.
If you’ve never experienced pigmentation, then I’m very pleased for you. Go and buy yourself a lottery ticket because you’re a very lucky person! For all the rest of you in the pigmentation boat with me, I hope some of these tips work for you.
I’d love to hear about your experiences and how you deal with pigmentation.
You can find Kim-Marie at KimbaLikes.com, her blog featuring her deeply shallow musings about Family : Fashion : Frivolity. Kim-Marie is a dedicated follower of fashion, a beauty junkie and an op shopper extraordinaire. She loves a cocktail hat as much as a cocktail and never leaves the house without lipgloss.
Editor’s note: I’m very grateful this week to have some fabulous guest blog posts to publish here on Styling You as I get over my US adventure and a big combination of jetlag and post-holiday blues.