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What is Hyperpigmentation and what do I do about it?

June 15th, 2018 / Be Well Swipe On
biran ziff

By: Juana Diez, Shop Good Product Expert and Buyer

Let’s talk hyperpigmentation. Many of you know the term well, while others may have been wondering what those bothersome, discolored spots are. Yep, the ones that strike without warning and linger as long as they want.  We’re definitely no strangers to HP in sunny SoCal! But, just because your sun-to-skin contact is a less common occurrence, it doesn’t mean your skin is immune to HP.  

First – a simple definition. Hyperpigmentation is a darkening or discoloration of the skin. It’s one of the most common skin concerns affecting both women and men, and usually worsens with age.  Let’s dive deeper with the why and the how.

WHY does it happen?

Hyperpigmentation occurs when your skin over produces melanin (the pigment responsible for skin and hair color) and shows up as spots darker than your natural skin tone. Although there are several types of hyperpigmentation that develop for different reasons, the three most common include:

  1. Sun damage – Sun exposure causes a release of melanin, which is the reason that your skin turns darker after some time in the sun. We’re all about that summertime Vitamin D, but too much UV light from unprotected sun exposure can overwhelm the skin, disrupt this process, and lead to the emergence of light or dark brown spots on areas exposed to the most sun (face, chest, upper back, hands).  
  2. Melasma – Changes in hormones, birth control pills, and pregnancy can trigger melasma. This kind of hyperpigmentation typically appears as symmetric, blotchy patches on the face. Common areas include upper lip, forehead, bridge of the nose, and and cheeks.
  3. After skin trauma aka Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation – Injury or inflammation to the skin (in the form of acne, dermatitis, eczema, bug bites) can result in the development of dark brown, pink, or red spots. This type of HP caused by trauma may eventually go away on its own with proper cellular turnover, but is still JUST as frustrating to deal with.

HOW do I prevent it?

  • Apply and reapply SPF – yep, we sound like a broken record, we know. But we really can’t stress it enough! UVA rays penetrate into the skin (even on cloudy days and through windows) –  and trigger the pigmentation cycle to begin. Remember to choose a broad spectrum sunscreen (see here for last week’s blog on all things SPF). Suntegrity for the win, ALWAYS. Avoid direct sunlight exposure during peak hours (from 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM) , and always wear a hat!
  • Load up on anti-inflammatory and antioxidant rich foods. An unhealthy diet can lead to uneven skin tone, decreased cell turnover, dryness, and accelerated signs of aging! Foods you’ll always catch in our refrigerator to support skin health: berries, leafy greens, wild caught fish, pomegranates, turmeric, cherries, carrots, green tea, avocados, and flax seeds.
  • Look for anti-inflammatory and brightening ingredients in your skincare products — turmeric, chamomile, sandalwood, vitamin C, calendula and CBD — to keep skin calm and even toned. We’re BIG fans of Noto’s Deep Serum, Osea’s Vitamin Sea Serum, Berlin Skin’s Sandalwood Face Cream, and Cordial Organics’ Nourish Oil (in-store only!).
  • Keep your skin HYDRATED to reduce signs of inflammation, which can activate melanin and turn on that dreaded domino effect. Yes, this means lots of quality water throughout the day, but also daily use of hydrating topical ingredients like HYALURONIC ACID. Botnia’s Hydrating Serum and Osea’s Hyaluronic Sea Serum are non-negotiables (and best sellers)!
  • Hands OFF! Don’t pick at your skin (as tempting as it might be!). Scratching and picking at a spot will increase inflammation responsible for discoloration. Messing with it will only make it look worse later on!

HOW do I treat it?

For this one, we tapped our in-shop Holistic Esthetician, January, for expert tips of the trade! Here’s what she had to say:

“When dealing with hyperpigmentation, patience is key. It’s all about finding what products and treatments work for YOU.  If your skin is prone to hyperpigmentation, don’t fret and accept that these little imperfections are beautiful and make you who you are!  The next step? Work with us, the team at Shop Good, to keep skin health high, minimize future HP damage and protect yourself against the triggers!” Some other helpful tips January recommends to keep in mind:

  • Regular gentle exfoliation (1-2 times a week) is key to help with cell turnover. Urb Apothecary’s Cactus Face Polish, Klei’s Smooth Scrub, and H is for Love’s Propolis are all soft yet effective physical exfoliators to have in your beauty cabinet.
  • Getting your monthly facial is SO important because you are helping your skin cells to regenerate. With our customized Botnia facials, you are going to see results much faster than leaning on your at-home treatment. Our glycolic and lactic rose peels will help exfoliate the top layers of your skin and improve tone and texture.
  • Remember to *ALWAYS* get spots on the body checked by a medical professional if you are unsure of what they are.

PS…Click here to book a facial with January to help treat your hyperpigmentation!

Come see our skin experts at Shop Good to support you in reaching any and all of you #skingoals this summer, whether it’s hyperpigmentation or beyond. We’ve got you!

Illustration by: Brian Ziff, Rite of Spring

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