A clear, unified complexion sounds like a goal that’s simple enough, but the reality is pigmentation is a very common and very complicated concern.
Characterised by dark patches and discolouration, it’s a tough one to manage because there are so many factors at play, including our hormones.
Hormonal pigmentation, specifically, is a chronic condition that can appear out of nowhere and then can take years to sort out. However, with the right steps and ingredients, it is possible to brighten up your skin and unveil a much more even complexion.
Read on for our expert advice, and an insight into the products that will garner real results.
What Exactly Is Hormonal Pigmentation?
Hormonal pigmentation, also known as melasma, is not dissimilar to regular pigmentation in that it’s caused by an overproduction of melanin, the substance in your body that produces hair, eye and skin colour.
In this instance though, your body’s melanin uptake is predominantly caused by dramatic hormonal shifts. While it can affect all genders, the condition is most common in women taking the oral contraceptive pill, or during pregnancy (hence why it’s sometimes referred to as the mask of pregnancy). Melasma that occurs exclusively during pregnancy is also referred to as chloasma.
How does it happen? Our pigment-producing cells (called melanocytes) continuously produce melanin, which gives our skin its colour. But when a melanocyte-triggering hormone called α-MSH is present, the melanin goes a little haywire and our skin takes on a discoloured, uneven appearance.
Hormonal pigmentation can crop up all over the face and neck, but commonly presents as clearly defined splodges on the cheeks, forehead and upper lip.
It’s important to point out that while the underlying trigger is hormonal, factors like UV exposure, skin inflammation, heat and genetics can also play a role in the severity of pigmentation.
A Brightening Skincare Strategy
So, what can be done?
When we’re discussing pigmentation, it’s important to manage expectations because it can be difficult – and sometimes impossible – to get rid of it completely.
But with the right cosmeceutical skincare and professional advice, you can achieve brighter, more even-toned skin.
Firstly, be sure to get on top of any lifestyle factors that could be worsening your symptoms:
- Avoid unprotected sun exposure at all costs (SPF, a hat and sunglasses should be your best friends).
- Try to limit extreme heat exposure, including piping hot showers.
- Don’t pick spots – ever!
- Avoid highly irritating soaps and anything overly fragranced.
When it comes to brightening and correcting skincare, look for formulas and ingredients that will regulate melanin production, exfoliate discoloured cells and speed up cellular turnover.
These are our top five recommendations:
Take Your Vitamins
It’s the gold-standard ingredient when it comes to glow! Skinstitut’s pure powdered form of Vitamin C (L-Ascorbic Acid) can be mixed with your serum or moisturiser to boost antioxidant protection. In the long run, Vitamin C helps to prevent dark spots, unify skin tone, increase luminosity and firm the look of wrinkles. *adds to cart*
Rely on Retinol
Fact: Retinol might just be our all-time favourite ingredient for clear, radiant skin. It works to speed up cellular turnover, allowing fresh, healthy cells to replace those that are dull or discoloured. With ongoing use, it will also improve overall clarity.
Our Retinol Serum utilises a smart micro-encapsulated delivery system to ensure the ingredient retains its potency. Expert Reveal Retinol Face Oil contains 0.9 per cent active Retinol alongside nourishing plant oils to foster brighter skin (as well as the ultimate glow).
Even Blend for an Even Tone
A powerhouse serum with skin-brightening properties, our Even Blend formula is bolstered with both Glycolic Acid and Wakame (Japanese seaweed extract) to fade marks and gently lift dull surface cells. Use it daily under your favourite moisturiser.
Brighten Up With Alpha-Hydroxy Acids
Alpha-Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) are water-soluble molecules that dissolve the bonds between skin cells, allowing them to be exfoliated away. This results in improved clarity, a softening of dark marks and a smoother appearance overall.
A brightening exfoliant, Glycolic Scrub 14% contains a duo of biodegradable Jojoba beads plus Glycolic Acid, an AHA that both refines and rehydrates. The formula works immediately to illuminate the skin, while also brightening over time.
For more sensitive complexions, L-Lactic Cleanser contains Lactic Acid, an AHA that's smaller in molecular size for gentler results. It's highly tolerable, but still works to refine and resurface pigmented skin.