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How to treat hyperpigmentation in darker skin tones

From acid peels, and microneedling to hero skincare ingredients

An abundance of melanin in the skin means extra protection against photo-ageing, cue less elasticity loss and fewer lines and wrinkles. This fact has led to the major misconception that darker skins don’t age. But they do, just not the same way Caucasian skin does. So, while Caucasian skin will start to notice fine lines and wrinkles far sooner than their Black and brown counterparts, people of colour are more susceptible to hyperpigmentation resulting in an uneven skin tone.

Here’s everything you need to know about hyperpigmentation in darker skin types and how best to treat your dark spots…

What Is Hyperpigmentation? 

Hyperpigmentation is a major bug bear, that seemingly appears out of nowhere, yet takes months and sometimes even years to fade. It’s part of an immune response that’s activated when the likes of heat, UV and acne rear their heads. These inflammation triggers cause the body to release extra melanin to protect the skin’s DNA. Clever, just not pretty.

According to Être Vous expert and Founder of Miriderma Clinic, Dr Sandra Gamper, there are two types of melanin, ‘eumelanin that gives rise to brown to black pigmentation and phaeomelanin that’s responsible for red to yellow pigmentation. Those with very fair to medium skin tones will produce more phaeomelanin and those with brown to black skin are more likely to have eumelanin as the dominant type of pigment.’

Gamper adds that there are also three different types of non-genetic hyperpigmentation. ‘Post inflammatory hyperpigmentation most commonly presents after a breakout, as inflammation is synonymous with acne, and because pigment producing cells in darker skin are more active this type of hyperpigmentation is unavoidable and commonplace. Then there’s melasma, that usually presents on the face most commonly the cheeks and is often triggered by an increase in oestrogen when taking the contraceptive pill or during pregnancy. And lastly, solar lentigines, aka sunspots caused by years of UV exposure.’

How can you ward off Hyperpigmentation?

Just like with fairer skin tones, wearing sun protection is a must for those with darker skin too. Yes, the more melanin you have the more you’re naturally protected from UV but according to Gamper, ‘this extra protection should not be relied upon alone and SPF should be a staple in everyone’s skincare arsenal.’

Alongside sun protection Gamper recommends pigment inhibitors like hydroquinone, Alpha Arbutin, Kojic acid, Tretinoin, cysteamine, niacinamide, and azelaic acid that work to block or sedate the production of melanin so that when inflammation strikes your skin bypasses it’s natural protective mechanisms to keep the skin even in tone.

How can you fade hyperpigmentation? 

Pigmentation is harder to treat in darker skin tones making prevention key, however in order to fade dark spots, patience and a mix of in clinic and a targeted skincare regime is key.

Vitamin C, E and A will push newer unpigmented cells to the surface to help fade dark spots, while a series of in-clinic lower strength acid peels are recommended by Gamper too. Slow and steady is the best course of action as due to the increased risk of post inflammatory pigmentation in darker skin types, it is important to take a gentle and gradual approach. Gamper also recommends microneedling as this helps break up pigment below the skins surface and is much less likely to cause more hyperpigmentation post treatment than the likes of fractional laser that's commonly used on lighter skin types to treat dark spots.

To discover how best to treat your own uneven skin tone book a consultation with Dr Gamper today.

Sandra Gamper, Aesthetic Doctor

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