Pigmentation & Freckles
PIGMENTATION – it’s got to be the most common skin concern that people hate and have endlessly tried to get rid of with no result. The big question is WHY??? I have used the creams and pigment serums that I was told would work but still the pigment is still hanging around. Well, I have heard you and I’m going to shed light on the how’s, why’s & what’s of pigmentation or what most of us call them – SUN SPOTS. The buzz word at the moment when it comes to pigment is "Retinol" everyone is told to use Vitamin A or a "pigment serum" to lighten and get rid of the pigment. But why? well I'm going to explain how a pigment serum is meant to work so you can start getting a result with your pigment.
How is pigment formed?
Before I explain why it is super important to use sunscreen and pigment serums, let me first explain the process of how pigment is formed.
I don’t want to scare you away with too much science so I will try and break it down and keep it simple. It first starts with an epithelial cell and a melanocyte, the melanocyte has multiple dendrite or extending arms that attach to a group of epithelial cells. When the dendrites attach themselves they transfer melanin to the epithelial cell.
Why does it do this?
When the keratinocytes (very top layer of the skin) show signs of being damaged by UV in this case the melanocytes comes to its aid and helps protect it by forming a “cap” around the keratinocyte which then looks like a pigmentation spot. This is why sunscreen is vital as it is the first line of defence the skin has against harmful UV rays. In picture 1 you can see a more detailed view on what is happening when the sun hits the skin. The damage is done in the DNA of the cell it then sends signals to the melanocyte which then transfers melanin to the surface of the skin. Picture 2 gives you an idea how the melanin travels through the skin layers to the surface.
How to treat pigment and sun spots
How do pigment serums work?
So now we know how pigment is formed, we now can have a better understanding why a pigment serum and sunscreen is a vital step in treating pigment. As you can see in the diagrams the damage starts in the deeper layers of the skin. Preventing UV rays from causing damage in the first place will minimise pigment from forming - again SUNSCREEN is the first line of defence.
In order to effectively treat pigment a combination of a blocker and mover are required. A pigment blocker will help block the signal transferred from the keratinocyte to the melanocyte which will stop the melanocyte moving up to the surface and creating the “melanin cap”. A pigment mover will help lift off the pigment already on the skin’s surface which we know as exfoliation.
When you are using both a pigment blocker and pigment mover the chances of eliminating pigmentation is increased. However, as I said before Sunscreen is also vital when treating pigmentation, if you are not prepared to use it then the pigment serums won’t work and this will lead to disappointment.
In this diagram it gives a visual effect on what is going on beneath the skin's surface. A pigment blocker will stop the signals from travelling to the keratinocyte - hence it's name a "pigment blocker".
The market is saturated with pigment serums and choosing the right one can be a nightmare. So to make it easy I have narrowed it down to what I know has the evidence behind it to make it work and what I have used myself. However, in clinic treatments are also required to get optimum results.
Products that I know have been proven to work are:
Complete pigment serum – acts as a pigment blocker
Exfoliation serum & Exfol A – acts as a pigment mover
Lytera – is both a pigment mover & blocker
Retinol .05 – acts as a pigment mover
In Clinic treatments:
Laser - if it is just one or two spots then laser is great to break up the pigment.
Peels - there are a number of peels that will help lighten pigment but I would recommend to combine with laser.
Where to now?
If pigmentation is one of your skin concerns, then wait no longer. Book a Skin Consultation skin consultation at Restore Skin Clinic South Melbourne to see what can be done for you.
Bright, glowing, even skin is a reality
Weiner, et al-2014-Pigment Cell & Melanoma Research.pdf
BHlthSc (Dermal Therapies)
Amanda is a Dermal Clinician with a Bachelor of Health Science in Dermal Therapies. She has 15 years experience in the skin, and aesthetic industry, and is very passionate about skin health, acne, and digestive health. In 2019, she completed her Masters in Human Nutrition as she believes that healthy skin starts from within.
Having battled with acne in her 20's which left her with acne scarring, she knows how this can affect self-esteem and the frustration of not seeing results. This has been the driving force to focus on acne scarring and restoring skin.