As a child, I always remember my mother struggling with skin care products for her dark skin. The bathroom cabinet would be full of different lotions and potions proclaiming to tackle acne flare-ups, pimples and wrinkles but her most pressing concern was hyper pigmentation.
Unlike most types of skin trauma, pigmentation appears literally overnight and is triggered by a multitude of factors. Pigmentation is the natural colour of a person's skin and is related to melanin production. Melanin protects skin cells and their DNA by absorbing the sun's ultraviolet rays (UVR). Black skin, therefore, is more prone to pigmentation due to the increased levels of melanin that's in the skin - making it tougher to treat.
Clients of darker skin that come into clinic rank having an even skin- tone as a priority over brighter and lighter skin. So irregular dark and light patches makes shopping for make-up a nightmare, having seen it first hand with my mothers confidence been knocked over the years.
According to the 2011 UK census, out of 56.1 million people living in England and Wales in 2011, 4.2 were Asian/Asian British and 1.9 million were Black/African/Caribbean/Black British. So good news, with the rising population of women of colour like myself with higher Fitzpatrick Skin Types (FST's), the beauty industry has more solutions for discolouration on the market than ever before. But before we get to treating the issue, we need to protect our skin from making it worse by finding out the causes of pigmentation in the first place.
Common Causes of Hyper Pigmentation on Dark Skin..
It's no secret that our skin can change throughout the seasons, but we shouldn't underestimate the impact that genetic and hormonal changes can have on our complexions. Female hormones oestrogen and progesterone can play a role sometimes at overstimulating melanin - especially with exposure to the sun, certain medications and during pregnancy - resulting in pigmentation problems known as melasma or chloasma. Melasma is characterised by symmetric brown patches that appear on sun-exposed areas of skin, most often the forehead, cheeks, bridge of nose, upper lip and chin.
A key note is that darker skin-tones are just as prone to sun damage as their lighter counterparts, which never fails to surprise my darker skinned clients. That's why i love educating my client's on the importance of wearing a strong Physical Broad Spectrum SPF (Sun Protection Factor) daily to protect the skin from harmful UVA and UVB rays to fight against pigmentation.
And then there's that fun skin condition - Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH) which is characterised by brown patches found in areas of the skin that have been subjected to trauma, inflammation or a combination of both. Common causes of inflammation include acne, eczema and psoriasis, leaving dark scars on the skin. PIH can be easier to tackle by firstly looking at the primary skin condition and controlling factor within that for example, if discolouration is because of repeated breakouts, addressing clogged pores and excess oil on the skin will reduce incidences of breakouts therefore, less issues with hyper-pigmentation.
How can hyperpigmentation be improved?
Starting with a good skin care range and chemical peels are an excellent way of treating discolouration in darker skins. However, educating clients and prepping the skin before any treatment is essential to prevent hyper or hypo pigmentation. This is why i recommend using AlumierMD's specific pigment solution series and following 4 simple steps to improve hyperpigmentation:
Step 1. Exfoliate to lift pigmentation and stimulate new skin cell growth:
Exfoliating treatments and products help fade pigment and bring new skin cells to the surface.
AlumierMD Professional Treatments:
Vitamin A Boost
Enzyme Retexturing Treatment
Step 2. Prevent the formation of new pigmentation:
Use AlumierMD's Dynamic Duo Serums: EvenTone Brightening Serum and Intellibright Complex Serum
Step 3. Protect against UV rays:
Skin that is not protected by the sun is suceptible to further hyperpigmentation. Using a photo-stable daily broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 is the key to preventing further pigmentation.
Step 4. Camouflage:
AlumierMD's innovative colour-encapsulated tinted sunscreens even out skin tone while protecting from UV damage.
AlumierMD Pigment Solution Series:
AlumierMD's advanced regimen is a full- spectrum solution targeting hyperpigmentation using 5 different methods for increased effectiveness:
1) Decreases the production of pigmentation by complementary mechanisms
2) Blocks pigment transfer from pigment cells to skin cells
3) Degrades existing hyperpigmentation
4) Exfoliates existing hyperpigmentation
5) Protects against future sun damage