The good weather in the past month has been glorious, but for a nation not used to the sun we aren’t always the best at protecting our skin. Once of the most noticeable cosmetic effects can be the development of spots of pigmentation. For those of us who maybe had a little too much sun (guilty!) they arrive as darker areas on the skin, more noticeable with age and sun exposure.
“Pigmentation means colouring. The skin gets its colour from melanin which produces too much colour when they are damaged or unhealthy. Age spots, also known as liver spots, are small to medium brown spots that appear mostly on the face, hands, shoulders and back as we age. These spots are caused from UV damage to the melanin production of the skin cells and appear in a brown/black spot or cluster. This hyper pigmentation is stimulated chemically by the effects of the sun’s rays and appear with age, hence their name,” says Claire Hanlon, Juliette Armand Ireland’s Business Development Manager.
But it’s not just the sun that can be responsible. “There are other hyper pigmented spots that are not caused by the sun and these are called chloasma and melasma spots which are triggered by changes in hormones in the body and totally different to age spots,” says Claire.
“Change in hormones, computer radiation and post-acne [can all be causes]. But one of the biggest causes is the sun! Beware, it can take 10 years for age spots (sun spots) to show. So being a sun worshipper in your 20s will accelerate the signs of ageing,” says Karen J. Gerrard, Founder of SEAMS Hand Cream.
“Pigmentation usually appears first on exposed areas such as the face and hands, especially cheekbones and nose, but continued exposure to the sun will promote age spots to appear over the body,” she continues.
Injury, such as scarring or acne can also leave darker patches of pigmentation.
Prevention is the first step in staving off dark spots of pigmentation caused by the sun, this means diligent application of sunscreen.
“The best way to treat pigmentation is to prevent it in the first place with SPF. There is UVA and UVB rays that affect the skin, UVB light causes tanning and sunburn and affects the epidermis, the surface layer of the skin while UVA exposure damages the collagen fibres in the dermis resulting in wrinkles, loss of elasticity. SPF should be worn daily, even on cloudy days as it reduces your chances of developing further pigmentation,” says Claire.
“Pigmentation will fade slightly as your tan fades and the melanin reduces, but use a 30-50 SPF whilst sunbathing, and reapply it regularly, sweating and whatever you touch reduces protection. Be sure to extend your SPF cream to the hands, especially after washing your hands, or dipping in the sea. It’s a good idea to get a higher SPF stick to use on the nose,” says Karen.
If you already have spots of hyper-pigmentation then there are products you can use to minimise their appearance, or to camouflage them.
“You can treat pigmentation at home using cosmeceutical products with active ingredients such as vitamin C for brightening the skin, liquorice for regulating skin tone, vitamin A has an exfoliating effect on the skin, rumex a natural tyrosinase inhibitor (it controls the production of melanin),” says Claire.
When it comes to pigmentation from scarring or from hormonal changes it is always recommended that you seek professional advice before embarking on a change in skincare routine or treatments. The same advice should be followed if you’re worried about any pigmentation from sun damage too.
Products to try…
1. €24 Caudalie Vinoperfect Concentrated Brightening Essence
Lightweight; glycolic and Peony Rose work together to smooth the complexion
2. €25 Eucerin Even Brighter Day Cream SPF 30
With B-Resorcino that helps to reduce melanin production, plus protects
3. €45 bareMinerals Complexion Rescue Defense SPF 30
Specifically fights the effects of blue light from devices plus sun damage
4. €16.50 Bioderma Photoderm M Golden Tint SPF 50+
A high sun protection factor with a tint it’s formulated to stave off pigmentation issues
5. €6.99 ziaja Concentrated Moisturising Day Cream SPF 20
A moisturising preventative step to stave off sun damage
6. €90 Eve Lom Brightening Cream
Uses their patented Dermapep to brighten the complexion and nourish
7. €15 Vichy Dermablend Colour Corrector
Works for 24 hours to conceal brown or dark spots
8. €96.50 Dermalogica Biolumin-c Serum
A serum infused with Vitamin C and Palmitoyl Tripeptide-5 that works with the skin to reduce spots
9. €44 Juliette Armand Elements Glow C 12% Serum
With 12 per cent vitamin C it plumps, evens and brightens promoting glow
10. €10 The Ordinary Super Glow
Combines antioxidant vitamin C and Alpha Arbutin to brighten and reduce dark spots
11. €120 Le Mieux Perfect Renewal Regime exclusively at Neelu’s Beauty Salon
A luxe two step regime that promises to restore skin’s even tone
12. €31 Lierac Sunissime Rehydrating Repair Balm Global Anti Aging
With witch hazel, omega 3 and 9, and hyaluronic acid to firm skin and reduce the appearance of dark areas or overall pigmentation
13. €58 Dr Andrew Weil for Origins Mega-Bright Serum
A cult product with natural ingredients of Rosa roxburghii, White Peony and Licorice
14. €27 La Roche-Posay Pigmentclar SPF 30
With sun protection it tackles greying of the skin and pigmentation spots
15. €220 Elizabeth Arden Prevage Anti-aging and Intensive Repair Daily Serum
Repairs post summer damage and helps even skin tone
16. €92 Murad Rapid Age Spot Correcting Serum
Clinically proven to reduce dark spots and pigmentation in as little as a week
17. €8.99 Seoulista Brightening Instant Facial Mask
Easy to apply and infused with vitamin C and AHA to reduce appearance of pigmentation
18. €31.99 Avene TriAcneal Expert Emulsion
With the active ingredients including Retinaldehyde a vitamin A derivative to reduce marks
19. €60 NIOD Re Pigment Multi-Pathway Brightening System
With cosmeceutical ingredients it fights overall and targets uneven pigmentation