The Science of Hyperpigmentation
Pigmentation is the natural colour of a person’s skin. Hyperpigmentation is characterised by the increased production and accumulation of melanin, which causes a darkened appearance to the skin in small or large areas. Three common types of hyperpigmentation are photodamage, melasma and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH).
Function of Melanin
Two types of melanin are synthesized within melanosomes: eumelanin and pheomelanin. Eumelanin is a dark brown-black insoluble polymer and is the most common form of melanin. Pheomelanin is a light red-yellow sulphur-containing soluble polymer that is associated with freckles and red hair. Irrespective of skin colour, every human has the same number of melanocytes. Differences in skin pigmentation result from differences in melanogenic activity, the type of melanin produced in melanosomes and the size, number and packaging of melanosomes. The melanin content of melanosomes ranges from 17.9% to 72.3%. Skin pigmentation reflects a genetically determined level of melanin and can be modified by factors such as ultraviolet radiation (UVR), medications and endocrine influences.
Exposure to UVR increases melanogenesis. The purpose of melanin is to protect underlying tissues from harmful UVR by absorbing nearly all of the UV energy and transforming it into harmless amounts of heat energy in order to prevent DNA damage. Eumelanin also has the ability to scavenge and quench free radicals. Pheomelanin does not have the same properties and can even be a source for free radical production when exposed to UVR.
Skin Lightening Agents
Skin lightening products are available to treat hyperpigmentation. All of these products target and reduce natural melanin production. Many of the commonly used actives have a tyrosinase-inhibiting effect such as hydroquinone, arbutin, kojic acid and some plant extracts. Other ingredients, like niacinamide, exert their lightening effect by reducing the transfer of melanin from melanocytes to keratinocytes. Substances, which increase cell turnover such as alpha hydroxy acids and retinoids, are also commonly used to remove excess melanin content from within the skin. Ingredients with novel mechanisms of action include MSH antagonists, inhibitors of MITF and other enzymes (eg. TRP-1 and TRP-2), and anti-inflammatory agents since irritation is known to stimulate hyperpigmentation.
The most important product to prevent hyperpigmentation is sunscreen. A broad-spectrum mineral sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 should be worn daily all year round to minimise future sun damage.
AlumierMD Skin Science target hyperpigmentation using
five different methods for increased effectiveness.
- Decrease the production of pigment by complementary mechanisms in EvenTone Brightening Serum & Intellibright Complex
- Block pigment transfer from melanocytes to keratinocytes with vitamin B3 (niacinamide) in EvenTone Brightening Serum and Intellibright Complex
- Degrade existing hyperpigmentation with shitake mushroom extract in EvenTone Brightening Serum and Intellibright Complex
- Increase cell turnover and desquamate existing hyperpigmentation with products containing retinoids (eg. retinol) or alpha hydroxy acids
- Protect against future sun damage with a broad-spectrum mineral sunscreen
- EvenTone Brightening Serum EvenTone Brightening Serum
- Intellibright Complex
- Retinol 0.25/0.50
- Broad Spectrum Sunscreen
For maximum effect we also recommend a course of –
- 2 x Radiant Peels
- 2 x Glow Peels