Beauty & Grooming

The Best Ingredients for Pigmentation

Every year, Google searches for 'how to even skin tone on face' rise without fail during the Summer months worldwide. But why the connection with the Summer months?
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The Best Ingredients for Pigmentation
Cr.: iStock/Damir Khabirov

If you have ever wondered what those dark spots are on your skin, perhaps even posed this question to Google, you would have probably been told that it is skin discolouration – more commonly known as pigmentation or hyperpigmentation. Every year, Google searches for ‘how to even skin tone on face’ rise without fail during the Summer months worldwide. But why the connection with the Summer months? Dark spots are usually connected with sun exposure, for example, sun spots – even though that’s not their only cause. 

In this article, ISDIN, a global leader in dermatology breaks down pigmentation and the ingredients you should be using in your skincare to help assist in evening out your skin to help reduce the appearance of dark spots on your face.

Understanding pigmentation

Pigmentation occurs when the pigment-producing skin cells, melanocytes, start to overproduce melanin, this can lead to the formation of uneven pigmentation or hyperpigmented areas in the skin. The most common trigger for this occurrence is sun exposure (hence the need to wear a powerful SPF). When overexposed to the sun, your skin produces more melanin to try to protect itself from the damaging rays – resulting in a toasty tan or sensitive sunburn.

“It then, makes sense that you might notice more dark spots during the summer months if you’ve been soaking up the rays at the beach or relaxing by the pool. However, it is important to note that the sun is not the only cause of pigmentation. Age, genetics, hormones (such as in pregnancy), free radical damage from pollution or tobacco, or different types of medication can also cause uneven pigmentation,” explained Karlo Mitchell from ISDIN South Africa. 

Your ingredient fighters

Facial skin care with essential oil and serum. Happy African woman applying essential oil on her face for hydrated skin with pipette dropper, isolated on blue background stock photo
Cr.: iStock/peakSTOCK

Using the correct ingredients and sticking to a morning and night routine is key to correcting the visible signs of premature skin ageing, including the formation of dark spots and uneven pigmentation.

  1. Vitamin C: This ingredient is a lifelong skincare superstar because of its powerful antioxidants that neutralise free radicals – from pollution and UV rays. It’s best for treating dark marks, evening skin tone and brightening the skin.
  2. Niacinamide + Tranexamic acid: These ingredients are restorative agents that fight skin discolouration and hyperpigmentation. Niacinamide is an all-rounder in skincare for smooth and hydrated skin. When combined with tranexamic acid, a synthetic amino acid derived from lysine which specifically targets sun spots, the pigment-correcting effect is more powerful.
  3. Glycolic acid: One of the best exfoliating ingredients you can use on your skin and a basic in any skincare routine. Glycolic acid helps to improve your complexion while making it easier for other products to penetrate the skin. It also helps to even out skin tone and stimulate cell renewal, working to help improve the negative effects of the sun like fine lines and wrinkles (AKA photo ageing). 
  4. Sunscreen: Apart from using targeted products to combat discolouration, a high-SPF sunscreen is a key player in helping reduce the appearance of dark spots on the skin. Even if your dark spots are connected to genetic or hormonal causes or free-radical pollution damage, they can get darker when exposed to UV radiation. Sunscreen should be applied as part of your morning skincare routine, as the last step before makeup (if you wear it), 15 minutes before sun exposure. Remember to re-apply for every two hours of exposure, and more frequently if you’re exercising outdoors or enjoying a day at the beach.

A reminder to visit your dermatologist to discuss the type of pigmentation disorder you’re experiencing. Depending on the type, they may suggest in-clinic treatments, which can include chemical peels, laser treatments, or microdermabrasion. The most suitable treatment will vary depending on the appearance of dark spots, and your skin type.

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