1. Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation
PIH is more problematic for individuals with darker skin color & stems from wound healing to skin tissue, however slight, which results in an increased distribution of melanin. Simply put, melanin is what gives our skin its unique color and what protects our cells from sunlight.
Better known as the ‘mask of pregnancy’, melasma is a hormonally induced pigmentation. Some scientists say UV exposure seems to be a requirement for melasma to develop, which may account for the fact that it is less noticeable in winter months when UV exposure is lower. The most common places for melasma to appear is on the chin, upper lip, cheeks, nose, and forehead. The condition may persist up to 5 years after pregnancy or stopping of birth control pills.
3. No Sun Exposure, Period
The best defense is a good offense. Sunlight dramatically darkens pale pools of pigment in as little as a day at the beach. The single most important first step is avoid sun exposure at all costs! Apply a broad spectrum SPF like Elta MD UV Shield SPF 45 Oil-Free, & minimize your exposure by wearing a wide brimmed hat or oversized shades. The added SPF in your skin care products and makeup isn’t enough on its own and should be considered as the “icing on the cake”.
4. Eat Your Way To A Clearer Complexion
Celebrity aesthetician Anna Logan from the Touch of Faith Aesthetics and Skin Care Spa in L.A recommends staying away from soy & heavy consumption of meat and dairy as they are heavily estrogenic. Opt for antioxidant-rich superfoods like goji berry, mangosteen, carrot, beet, green and white tea extracts. “I have also found Evening Primrose works very well for most women in balancing hormones. The liver most times needs a good cleaning. I like to recommend drinking Milk Thistle tea for the liver in the evenings for 3 months straight.”
5. Lighten Up
Cleansing with small amounts of enzymes and fruit acids is a great way to lighten hyperpigmentation daily. Try Dermalogica ChromaWhite TRx Tri Active Cleanse or Jan Marini Clean Zyme Papaya Cleanser.
6. The Doc’s Prescription
Bernice Cohen RN, BSN, PHN, a Laser Specialist at AVA MD in Beverly Hills recommends a combination of Hydroquinone, Retinoic Acid and Kojic acid to promote cellular turnover and control melanocyte activity to prevent discoloration from reappearing. “Two of my favorite brands are AVA MD’s HQRA cream and prescription-strength OBAGI’S BLENDER, combined with a good Retinol,” says Cohen.
7. Non-Hydroquinone Alternatives
While hydroquinone is the only ingredient recognized as a skin lightening agent by the US FDA, it can often cause irritation and increased sensitivity to sunlight. Effective alternatives to hydroquinone are products containing Licorice, Lactic Acid (at 5%), Glucosamine and Phytic Acid. Jan Marini Age Intervention Enlighten Plus features kojic acid, retinol, & licorice root extract, while Miranda Kerr’s brand KORA Organics’ Purifying Day and Night Cream is brimming with antioxidant vitamins as well as licorice extract – and both are hydroquinone free. You can also supercharge your regime by taking one teaspoon to 1 tablespoon of licorice extract for just a week as adrenal exhaustion is often a contributing factor.
8. Be Meticulous & Patient To See Results
Annet King, Director of Global Education for The International Dermal Institute, says be meticulous about your brightening and exfoliating regimen – and be patient! “Results can take anywhere from 28 to 60 days, as this is how long skin cell renewal takes.” She also recommends getting a professional treatment every 4 to 6 weeks to increase skin luminosity and monitor skin health.