1 May 2021

In truth: Hyperpigmentation

Hyperpigmentation is a common dermatological issue that manifests in darker patches appearing on the skin, and it can be difficult to tackle effectively. Dr Zamani says “persistent dark spots can appear following inflammation caused by acne, as a result of changing hormones, pregnancy, excess sun exposure, or genetic melasma.”

As Zamani frequently sees in clinic, the non-uniform appearance of hyperpigmentation can be a source of insecurity for many. In fact, it was also her own battle with hyperpigmentation that spurred the development of Brighten & Perfect, MZ Skin’s corrective vitamin C serum.

“Skin is the canvas and we need to nurture and protect it from as early as our 20s so that we can enjoy healthy, glowing beautiful skin for the decades to come. While it is never too late to start, we know that starting early will help slow some signs of ageing, such as fine lines, wrinkles, pigmentation and uneven skin tone.”

Admittedly, hyperpigmentation is trickier to deal with on darker skin tones, as patches tend to emerge with a higher pigment, and take a great deal longer to fade than on lighter complexions. Many have resorted to using unsafe lightening creams in an attempt to eradicate pigmentation, which rarely work long-term and leave the skin more susceptible to harmful sun damage.

If you suffer with hyperpigmentation, there are a number of over-the-counter products, dermatologist-approved, professional-grade formulas and innovative cosmetic treatments that can target dark patches with the aim of fading them effectively – and safely.

Here, Dr. Zamani shares her expert tips on getting rid of hyperpigmentation for good.

Why is vitamin C important to integrate into skincare?

l-ascorbic acid is the chemically active form of vitamin C and functions to protect the skin from oxidative stress by neutralizing free radicals.

Vitamin C is an important antioxidant with a small molecular weight that can penetrate the skin. This water-soluble antioxidant in concentrations of 5-15% have been proven to induce the production of collagen while helping inhibit the enzyme that breaks down collagen.

Vitamin C is also used to treat and prevent changes associated with photo ageing as well as hyperpigmentation. Vitamin C is effective in combatting the effects of UVA and UVB rays by neutralizing free radicals. UVA penetrates 30-40 times more deeply into the dermis than UVB and is responsible for destroying collagen, elastin and other dermal structures, causing premature ageing.

Sunscreen is the obvious protective mechanism but does not block all the free radicals produced by UV exposure.

MZ Skin’s Brighten & Perfect 10% Vitamin C Corrective Serum is formulated to activate collagen production, protects against premature aging and reduce the effects of sun damage. This peptide-rich formula helps control melanin production to guard against hyperpigmentation and age spots. Perfect for post summer holidays fight against pigmentation.

Benefits of Vitamin C:

  1. Essential for collagen synthesis
  2. Depigmenting agent that inhibits the action of the enzyme tyrosinase, decreasing melanin formation
  3. Anti-inflammatory effect: it can help promote wound healing and prevent PIH (post inflammatory hyperpigmentation)

Is it true that vitamin C can boost the skin’s radiance? If so, why is that?

Absolutely for the aforementioned reasons. Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that helps reduce oxidative damage while stimulating collagen synthesis. It helps create clearer skin tone with its ability to help decrease pigmentation. And it has an anti-inflammatory effect which helps soothe and calm skin. Overall this is a well-researched and clinically proven powerhouse antioxidant with exceptional results in overall skin health.

I’ve read conflicting opinions on whether vitamin C-infused skincare has a shelf life and its efficacy is compromised. What’s your take?

The stability of Vitamin C is controlled by maintaining a pH of less than 3.5. In certain formulations, particularly clear serums, if it is exposed to light, it can become yellow, which means it has become oxidized and therefore less potent. Not all vitamin C’s are created equally, and the formulation is important in this regard

What skincare regime would you recommend in the fight against hyperpigmentation?

This is absolutely where the MZ Skin ethos of reveal, enhance, protect comes in!

This triad approach, using a combination of alpha hydroxy acids such as glycolic, lactic or mandelic acid to exfoliate away old and pigmented cells followed by Retinol (vitamin A) for optimising the skin and improving cell function; and tyrosinase-inhibiting ingredients such as vitamin C, alpha arbutin and liquorice extract to prevent the excess melanin production that occurs when skin suffers inflammation or injury.

Together, this three-pronged approach will strengthen the skin, break up the appearance of hyperpigmentation on the skin, and also brighten for a more even complexion.

Sunscreen is a must to protect the skin daily and stop hyperpigmentation from getting worse.

Cleanse & Clarify Dual Action AHA Cleanser formulated with a blend of Alpha Hydroxy Acids and Fruit Enzymes to cleanse and exfoliate without irritation for a refined skin texture. The perfect prep to reveal smoother, brighter, and more radiant skin.

Brighten & Perfect 10% Vitamin C Corrective Serum is formulated to activate collagen production, protects against premature aging and reduce the effects of sun damage. This peptide-rich formula helps control melanin production to guard against hyperpigmentation and age spots. Perfect for post summer holidays fight against pigmentation.

Hydrate & Nourish Age Defence Retinol SPF 30 Day Moisturiser combines encapsulated (non-irritant) Retinol and SPF 30 to simultaneously refine the complexion and protect the skin. Retinol boosts collagen production and smooths fine lines and wrinkles, while the addition of SPF 30 protects from UVA/B rays and free radical damage.

At night, apply Retinol Skin Booster which is clinically proven to reduce fine lines by 43% after 8 weeks. Formulated as a lightweight night serum, it utilises the skin-renewing power of retinol to re-build, smooth and repair the skin’s surface. Encapsulation helps target skin cells where it would provide most benefit and enhances skin penetration.

How long will it take to see results with skin care?

Expect anything from eight to 12 weeks to start seeing some results. It’s so important to keep in mind that hyperpigmentation is always a work in progress, and you have to be realistic. At home solutions such as skin care won’t necessarily be enough to make a long-term difference to hyperpigmentation.

What cosmetic treatments are recommended to reduce hyperpigmentation?

In clinic, Dr Zamani offers skin peels which are treatments used to manage skin ageing and tackle problems such as acne, sun damage and hyperpigmentation (due to sun damage, melasma or post inflammatory hyperpigmentation). Using chemicals or enzymes, peels work to remove an excessive build-up of dead skin cells that can make skin look dull and older. Peels reveal new, healthier skin as well as stimulating collagen production to give skin a smoother, tighter and more youthful appearance.

Skin peels generally produce more dramatic effects than those achieved by regular exfoliation or microdermabrasion techniques leaving the skin rejuvenated, fresher with smoother and healthier. Peels can be combined with a number of other treatments including LED treatments, microdermabrasion and laser treatments for optimal results.

Treatments to Consider:

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As a leading Oculoplastic Surgeon with special interest in Facial Aesthetics, Dr. Maryam Zamani has garnered a global reputation - both in the US and UK - for her meticulous attention to detail and sought-after techniques for eyes and facial aesthetics.

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