Areas of the skin that have become darker or discoloured in appearance, and which can subsequently result in a patchy or uneven skin tone.
Rarely something we are born with; pigmentation is something that varies in both intensity and appearance and can be both caused and made worse by a number of factors.
There’s no doubt that living in Australia – a country blessed with year-round sunshine – influences the likelihood of skin pigmentation. This is because as soon as we are exposed to sunshine, freckles may start to appear, and our tan is likely to deepen. Indeed, by the time we’ve reached adolescence, the average Australian will already have been privy to a high degree of sun exposure, and from our mid-to-late twenties, it’s likely that our skin will begin to age faster, which in turn may reveal underlying pigmentation and discolouration. Any type of condition or disorder that causes inflammation or irritation of the skin (such as acne, spots or burns) can also go a long way towards explaining over activity in melanocytes and a subsequent increase in pigment levels.
The different types of pigmentation
As with many skin conditions, pigmentation can manifest in different ways and the intensity will vary from person to person, depending on everything from sun exposure to genetics. From freckles to melasma and beyond, here are the four main different types of pigmentation.
The most frequently found form of pigmentation is freckles, or, to use their technical term, ephelides. While some people are born with freckles, they commonly develop after repeated exposure to sunlight, particularly if you have a fair complexion. They often appear darker and more pronounced during the summer months and usually fade in the winter. Genetics also come into play when it comes to one’s inclination to have freckles.
Melasma – also known as chloasma - is a form of pigmentation that is found in a deeper layer of the skin. Usually found on the face, melasma can appear on the skin as larger brown patches with a non-distinct, often blurry border. A form of pigmentation more commonly found in women, while the exact causes are unknown, it is often stimulated by hormonal increases. The condition is often exacerbated with lifestyle habits including prolonged UV exposure, certain types of medications, pregnancy and stress.
More commonly known as sunspots or liver spots, solar lentigines refer to pigmented spots, which, unlike melasma, have a clearly defined edge. A form of pigmentation that can occur anywhere on the body, sunspots may vary in colour from light brown to black. These spots are caused by UV sun exposure and the degree of their darkness depends on how much UV light they’re exposed to. It’s important to ensure that sunspots are regularly monitored, as they may develop into skin cancer and melanoma. Subsequently annual checks with your skin specialist or GP are essential.
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is a response to injury of the skin and can be the result of anything from acne to burns to friction or aggressive clinical treatments such as chemical peels, micro-dermabrasion, laser skin resurfacing and IPL. Unlike the other forms of pigmentation, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is a condition that can often settle down over time and will more often than not respond to topical products, although in some instances it may reoccur.
What causes pigmentation
While the cause of some forms of pigmentation is not known for certain, there are a wealth of lifestyle habits that may influence its probability. While some factors – such as UV exposure – can be maintained and controlled to a degree, there are others that you’ll have less influence over; such as genetics.
The most common cause of over-pigmentation is undoubtedly the sun, which goes a long way towards explaining why so many people living in Australia are more susceptible to pigmentation. Ultraviolet rays are a key component that stimulate the production of free radicals (simple molecules with an electron missing) that, in turn, stimulate the production of melanin. The excess melanin form clusters, which result in uneven patches, forming freckles, liver or age spots, or general blotchiness on the surface of the skin. This type of hyperpigmentation is usually located in areas of the skin most often exposed to the sun, including the hands, face, arms, shoulders and forehead.
Hormonal changes in pregnancy and menopause can also cause hyperpigmentation, as the hormones can stimulate melanocytes to produce more melanin. This is known as melasma and is often revealed with patches of hyperpigmentation on the face including the forehead, cheeks, upper lip and chin. If melasma is found in your family history, the first time it may manifest is usually during pregnancy.
Scarring caused by blemishes, imperfections, injuries or surgery, can all lead to uneven skin tone. A swollen pimple or any blemish that causes scarring can also jump-start melanin production (especially in Asian, Hispanic or black skin), leaving a stubborn mark called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Additionally, surgery or injuries can cause inflammation, resulting in over production of melanin.
The different intensities of pigmentation
The intensity of pigmentation will fluctuate from person to person and will be influenced by a wealth of factors – from UV exposure to family history. To prevent pigmentation one of the most important steps you can take is to protect your skin from the sun. By avoiding prolonged sun exposure and ensuring you always wear a broad spectrum SPF50+ sunscreen when outside, you will not only prevent pigmentation, but all signs of premature ageing caused by UV exposure.
SuperFade’s complete solution for mild, moderate and hyperpigmentation
Regardless of the level of pigmentation on your skin, there are ways in which you can minimise its appearance. And as the leading experts in pigmentation, it’s easy to see why Superfade is Australia’s number one solution for fading the appearance of an unwanted pigmentation. Considered by many as one of the most effective pigmentation fading products ever formulated to help remove and smooth brown marks on your skin, our products contain a powerful fading agent and a wealth of ingredients that assist in the fading of age spots, freckles and brown skin blemishes. With a comprehensive offering designed to target and smooth unwanted pigmentation, our complete solution caters for everyone, is suitable for adults of all ages and targets all levels and intensities of pigmentation.
For anyone with mild pigmentation, Superfade Accelerator is our go-to product. This Serum works from the surface down to transform dull and damaged skin by rapidly exfoliating discoloured surface skin cells, targeting mild pigmentation and lightening sun-damaged skin. This pioneering product contains a powerful and effective blend of BHA and AHAs and includes Ferulic Acid Cytovectors. Users can expect to see clinical results after 28 days, and studies have shown you can achieve up to 68% less visible dark marks and 80% fewer dark marks. An easy addition to anyone’s skincare routine, many users can see overnight improvement, and with consistent and regular use, an uneven, patchy skin tone can soon be a thing of the past.
For anyone who suffers from moderate pigmentation, Superfade Cream is a must-have addition to any beauty regime. The only non-prescription treatment on the market that contains the powerful ingredient Hydroquinone – which is a fading agent specifically designed to fight pigmentation at the source – it’s an indispensable product for anyone looking to lessen the effects of moderate pigmentation.
Finally, for anyone who suffers from hyper-pigmentation or a more noticeable case of uneven skin tone or discolouration, opting to use our Superfade Accelerator Serum with our Superfade Face Cream together can work wonders for blotchy and blemished skin. Superfade Accelerator Serum features a potent fusion of pigmentation-reducing technology that will rapidly reduce surface discolouration and mild pigmentation. Superfade Face Cream contains Hydroquinone, the gold standard in hyper-pigmentation treatment, an effective ingredient for treating different forms of hyper-pigmentation. A pharmacy-strength spot treatment that delivers clear and visible results, our Superfade Face Cream works gradually to assist in fading brown skin blemishes, including freckles and age spots. The cream works progressively, and results should begin to appear after 6 weeks. The key ingredient, Hydroquinone, helps to fade brown skin blemishes including freckles and age spots by disabling the damaged melanocytes – which produce excess melanin. In cases of hyperpigmentation, more melanin is present due to an increase in melanocyte production. By disabling these damaged melanocytes, your skin will become more evenly toned over time. And while it can take about four weeks on average for the ingredient to take effect, by introducing one of our powerful and potent products into your daily skincare routine and leave behind the unwanted signs of hyper-pigmentation.