Last week we were discussing causes of pigmentation; this week we are discussing how to get shot of it using topical preparations.
The best way to prevent future pigmentation is, of course, to wear a high factor UVA and UVB shielding sunscreen above factor 30.
Often, the sunscreen in regular foundation isn’t high enough to effectively protect the skin, so adding a higher factor is advisable.
As well as protecting your skin from sun exposure with sunscreen, limiting the time that you spend in the sun is a necessary step to prevent further skin damage.
Pigmentation treatments at River Aesthetics
At River Aesthetics we have a diverse toolkit of treatments for skin pigmentation, which is adaptable to suit all lifestyles, skin types and patient expectations.
Some patients request treatments with no downtime and are happy to wait a few weeks to see results; others prefer minimal downtime in order to get speedy results.
As GPs, we are able to supply both prescription treatments and non-prescription treatments that can reduce the activity of pigment-forming cells in the skin.
Hydroquinone is the most commonly-used prescription treatment, and is considered the primary topical ingredient for inhibiting melanin production.
Its components have potent antioxidant abilities. Topical hydroquinone comes in 2% (available in cosmetics) to 4% (or more) concentrations available from a physician.
Hydroquinone is a strong inhibitor of melanin production, meaning that it prevents dark skin from making the substance responsible for skin colour.
It does not bleach the skin but lightens it, and can only disrupt the synthesis and production of melanin hyper-pigmentation.
A further weapon in the fight against pigmentation is the antioxidant – the all-important molecule that inhibits the oxidation in the tissue that causes ageing.
Antioxidants mop up the free radicals that act like vandals in the skin. Free radicals are activated by sun exposure, or environmental pollutants such as cigarette smoke, as well as alcohol and sugars in our diets.
Antioxidants are important in a healthy diet found in foods such as fruits and vegetables, as well as in quality serums and moisturisers: the antioxidant is not to be underestimated in its ability to prevent fight ageing and sun damage.
Skin whitening, lightening and bleaching
Skin whitening, skin lightening and skin bleaching refer to the use of chemical substances to lighten skin tone, or provide an even skin complexion, by reducing the melanin concentration in the skin.
Several chemicals have been shown to be effective in skin whitening, while some have proven to be toxic or have questionable safety profiles, adding to the controversy surrounding their use and impacts on certain ethnic groups.
Most skin-lightening treatments, which can reduce or block some amount of melanin production, are aimed at inhibiting tyrosinase.
Kojic acid is also an effective skin lightener, but it doesn’t need a prescription.
Kojic acid is a by-product in the fermentation process of malting rice for use in the manufacturing of sake, the Japanese rice wine.
Some research shows kojic acid to be effective for inhibiting melanin production. However the same effect isn't achieved by drinking it!
Generally kojic acid works very well but hydroquinone may be necessary in more extreme cases.
Tyrosinase, arbutin and azelaic acid
There are other various mechanisms described for achieving lightening.
Inhibiting tyrosinase activity reduces the production of melanin. As existing skin cells are naturally exfoliated, keratinocytes with less melanin are eventually brought to the surface, giving the skin a lighter, more even-toned complexion.
Arbutin is derived from the leaves of bearberry, cranberry, mulberry or blueberry shrubs, and also is present in most types of pears. It can have melanin-inhibiting properties. Arbutin and other plant extracts are considered safe alternatives to commonly used de-pigmenting agents to make the skin fairer.
Azelaic acid is a component of grains, such as wheat, rye, and barley. It is applied topically in a cream formulation at a 10-20% concentration. Azelaic acid is also used to treat acne, but there also is research showing it to be effective for skin discolorations. Other research indicates azelaic acid may be an option for inhibiting melanin production.
Many treatments use a combination of topical lotions or gels containing melanin-inhibiting ingredients along with a sunscreen and a prescription retinoid.
Chemical peels remove cells of the epidermis that contain the excess pigment, so can help improve melasma and chloasma.
The use of chemical skin peels obviously depends on skin type.
Skin peels by Perfect Peel
The Perfect Peel we use in-clinic is a revolutionary peel that transforms skin, making it look younger, healthier and clearer in just one week.
The Peel blends glutathione, kojic acid, TCA, retinoic acid, salicylic acid, phenol and a bend of vitamins and minerals including vitamin C.
Alone, these ingredients are effective - but in combination they are astonishing.
Kojic acid is a powerful lightening agent and is proven to increase collagen and elastin production, resulting in skin that is brighter and tighter.
Glutathione is the ultimate anti-oxidant, penetrating deep into the cellular level of the skin to fight free radicals and oxidative damage, which makes it the anti-ageing answer to premature wrinkling. Glutathione is also proven to reverse melanin metabolism and therefore lighten dark pigmentation.
Please note, this peel has a downtime of 5 or 6 days, which needs to be taken into account at the time of consultation.
We hope to see you soon. For more information on this topic or any other, please contact 01590 608480.