A holistic, multi-layered approach to hyperpigmentation:
A – TYPE
Realize that not all hyperpigmentations are the same. There are 3 main types of pigmentation. Melasma (caused by hormonal changes, birth control) is the most persistent and can take up to 7 years to go away. UV-induced pigmentation (sun spots, liver spots, etc.) is the next stubborn and is particularly sensitive to renewed darkening due to sun exposure. Finally, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is redness or darkness caused by skin injuries like acne. Unfortunately, SSRIs (medicines for anxiety and depression) can worsen PIH.
TWO – UMBRELLA
Sun protection becomes absolutely important. Wear it daily, EVEN IF you work / live in a dark cave, wear hats, etc. And it is important to reapply it frequently – it is not enough just to put it on once in the morning. Mineral sunscreens are safer than chemical sunscreens (chemical sunscreens can actually oxidize and betray your skin by causing the aging damage you think you will prevent from using).
A good option is to apply sunscreen regularly at home in the morning and have a powdered sunscreen stick with you all day long for fat-free, light touch-ups. If you're worried that sunscreen will make acne worse, it's a good option to use a mix-in like our Moss Halo Powder that turns your favorite acne-free facial oil into sunscreen.
THREE – INTERNAL HEAT
Internal warmth, a concept in traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda, can also complicate / revitalize melanin production. Avoid sports where you are hot and sweaty, hot saunas, hot tubs, drinking alcohol, and eating spicy food. Take cooling herbs and consume cooling foods. Consider rolling with a jade roller that has been refrigerated. This has several advantages: it reduces the heat in the skin and stimulates the lymph flow.
FOUR – LYMPH
Speaking of stimulating lymph, stagnation in the skin, another holistic medical concept, is associated with persistent pigmentation problems. Stimulating the lymphatic fluid helps relieve stagnation. A good way to drain your lymphatic fluid is to have a face massage every day. One tool that's great for that is Gua Sha. Remember to keep a light to medium touch and move slowly – lymph is a thick viscous liquid and you will get better results with a slow massage.
FIVE DEPIGMENTATION SERUM
There are many ingredients and products for skin care that can help to lighten the skin. Look for a serum that contains a combination of ingredients that support the skin's depigmentation mechanisms. Vitamin C (contained in moss Illumina), licorice root or other lightening plant substances such as hops or bearberry are very often used for hyperpigmentation.
There are also stronger, yet synthetic ingredients such as peptides with depigmenting properties and acids such as tranexamic acid. If you take depigmentation very seriously, ingredients such as hydroquinone, corticosteroids and kojic acid are used, which have the highest effectiveness, but are associated with safety concerns and side effects.
That being said, the dermatologist may have prescribed more stubborn pigmentations like melasma creams like tri-luma (a combination of steroids, hydroquinone and retinol), and that's fine.
Here is our attitude to a depigmentation serum.
SIX – PATIENCE
Remember that even the best dermatologically formulated creams sold for hundreds of dollars were tested over a 12-week (3-month) period, and even after 12 weeks, only a percentage of users saw results and NO users completely saw depigmentation.
In order to reduce hyperpigmentation, both a depigmenting serum and sunscreen must be used reliably and consistently. It takes at least a month for the results to appear. In most cases, however, the results are only shown after 8 to 12 weeks. The first 8 weeks are a leap in faith. For those who want to see immediate results, a laser may be the better option.
SEVEN – LASER
A good "non-chemical" option is a BBL laser (broadband light). This type of treatment is not cheap, but has been used successfully to reduce age spots and other pigmentations, as well as to balance skin tone and reduce wrinkles. There is little downtime after the laser and it hurts a little, but not unbearable.
It is common for BBL to receive a few treatments. So work in a budget rather than assuming you take care of all of your pigmentation in one fell swoop. Note that there is downtime and the skin is red for a week or two after lasering and may peel off.
EIGHT – DERMAPLANING
If hard-hitting steroids and acids are not your cup of tea, try hyperpigmentation dermaplaning. In short, deraplaning shaves / scrapes the surface of the skin with a scalpel, removing both peach lint and dead skin. You can book dermaplaning from most beauticians or, if you feel able, buy dermaplaning blades from Amazon. This can help eliminate hyperpigmentation and promote cell regeneration.
It is not for you if you have any active skin condition, including active acne. It is also something that is really easy to overdo. Keep your dermaplaning sessions at least 3-4 weeks apart. Finally, it should be noted that while dermaplaning helps hyperpigmentation, overdoing it or applying it to a skin type for which it is not suitable can actually cause or worsen hyperpigmentation.
NINE – EXFOLIATION
Speaking of dermaplaning: A simple old chemical peel is very often touted as a depigmentation option. It is usually recommended to use glycolic acid as it penetrates deeply into the skin layers of all acids. However, any type of scrub (with the exception of the abrasive mechanics) works as long as you don't overdo it.
Excessive peeling can actually exacerbate and worsen hyperpigmentation rather than improving it because the skin is more susceptible to UV rays (which should be avoided as much as possible during your depigmentation trip) AND also brings heat to the skin (see Point 3) that can stimulate melanogenesis.
TEN – CELLULAR TURNOVER
You can promote cell turnover even without peeling. The difference is that you stimulate the skin to remove old cells yourself, instead of removing these cells for the skin, like peeling. There are certain ingredients such as peptides or plant substances that promote cell regeneration. Botanical examples include carrot seeds, helichrysum, moth beans and bakuchiol.
Elf – Supplement
Finally, you should consider adding a “vegan collagen” supplement, as the BioSil supplement is known. It is a combination of choline and silicon and is said to increase the production of beauty proteins in the body, ie collagen, keratin and elastin. Users report better results with Biosil than with collagen supplements. Supporting skin health from the inside out can help regulate and optimize all skin functions, and support and accelerate everything you are currently doing.
TWELVE – DOCUMENT
Document how your skin changes. Select a specific area or mark on the skin (I chose a mole near my eye and a PIH acne scar on my chin) and take a picture of these areas in a brightly lit place that you have continuous access to. Take pictures at the same angle and at about the same time of day only once a week (doing it every day is too often and will drive you crazy). Use these specific markings (generally not the entire face) to track depigmentation.
Compare the pictures from week 1 and week 4 in week 4 Do the same in week 8 and week 12 and compare them with your pictures in week 1. If you have different types of pigmentation (ie Melasma, PIH and UV induced), select a marker / area from each type.
13 – RESPONSIBILITY
To keep you up to date over the three months, consider a responsibility pal like a friend or a beautician. Check in with them, share pictures, remind each other to continue applying sunscreen and depigmentation serum, even if the basic repeatability of the routine kills you. Book whitening facials once or twice during the three months of waiting for results to maintain your morale.