SKIN DISCOLORATION EXPLAINED
What is skin discoloration?
Skin discoloration, sometimes referred to as hyperpigmentation or dark spots, appears in the form of dark patches. It is a common skin concern and can be isolated or diffused. Uneven skin tone is mainly caused by years of accumulated sun exposure and can appear on exposed areas, including face, neck, chest, hands, and arms. The discoloration of skin can result in a prematurely aged appearance.
What causes skin discoloration?
Skin contains melanin, a naturally-occurring pigment that gives skin color. Its purpose is protective, which is why skin becomes darker when exposed to the sun without sunscreen. Melanin can also be produced in excess as a protective response to insults or attacks on the top layer of skin.
While sun exposure is the primary cause of skin discoloration, a variety of factors can contribute such as genetics, hormonal fluctuations, acne, localized skin irritation, and other environmental aggressors such as pollution-induced free radicals. Regardless of the cause, skin discoloration can be present as dark patches, isolated spots, or an overall darker facial appearance. It is often difficult to treat and prevention is key for managing skin discoloration in topical skincare. This requires diligent use of sunscreen and an effective topical vitamin C antioxidant..
Ingredients to look for in skin discoloration products
There are many ingredients that claim or have been shown to reduce the appearance of skin discoloration and brighten the skin’s complexion. Well-studied ingredients include pure vitamin C (l-ascorbic acid) and phloretin, potent antioxidants both featured in Phloretin CF and Phloretin CF Gel. Retinol is another key ingredient shown to be effective in skin discoloration treatments and is often recommended by dermatologists. Kojic acid and arbutin are two well-documented ingredients that work synergistically together to improve the appearance of unwanted discoloration. SkinCeuticals Phyto+ features both kojic acid and arbutin in a hyaluronic acid base enhanced with calming botanicals. SkinCeuticals Metacell Renewal B3 features niacinamide, another important ingredient in addressing discoloration. Niacinamide, also known as vitamin B3, helps reduce the appearance of discoloration and blotchiness.
Recently, new studies have shown that topical formulations featuring tranexamic acid have a demonstrated effect on discoloration, including hard-to-treat forms such as post-acne marks and dark patches. Featured in Discoloration Defense, this powerful ingredient helps improve the appearance of discoloration.
Hydroquinone is also a common ingredient used primarily by physicians, but is available at lower percentages without a prescription. Many physicians recommend alternatives to hydroquinone due to its side effects. Sunscreen filters are also essential for discoloration concerns because they protect skin from UV damage.
How can I update my skincare regimen to help target skin discoloration?
The most comprehensive solution for improving the appearance of skin discoloration is prevention and correction. Incorporate an effective topical vitamin C antioxidant such as Phloretin CF or Phloretin CF Gel every morning to prevent against UV- and pollution-induced free radicals. A broad spectrum sunscreen is also a necessity to shield skin from the UV rays that can prompt pigment-producing cells to create new (and unwanted) melanin. Lastly, combining with targeted corrective solutions formulated to reduce the appearance of existing discoloration and brighten skin will optimize results. SkinCeuticals Advanced Pigment Corrector is a daily multi-action lightweight lotion that helps reduce the appearance of superficial discoloration and improves overall skin tone. For more stubborn forms of discoloration, try SkinCeuticals Discoloration Defense, a next-generation formula proven to improve the appearance of skin discoloration, brighten skin, and even skin tone in as early as 2 weeks. Reducing the appearance of discoloration takes time, be patient and diligent with a regimen.
Are there any in-office skin discoloration treatments to help improve discolored skin?
Physicians and skincare professionals are invaluable partners in treating discoloration. They offer a variety of treatments that can quickly and effectively reduce the appearance of skin discoloration. Options include lasers, lintense pulsed light (IPL), and chemical peels. They will recommend the best course of treatment according to skin tone, discoloration severity, and tolerated downtime. Lasers and IPL treatments use light to target and remove melanin clusters in skin. Your skincare professional may also recommend using topical formulations featuring tranexamic acid as adjunctive therapy to achieve more comprehensive results. Discoloration Defense is a daily tranexamic acid serum that targets visible discoloration for brighter, more even-looking skin.
Additionally, chemical peels use a variety of acids to exfoliate and reduce the appearance of discoloration. SkinCeuticals Advanced Corrective Peel is a medically exclusive chemical peel for comprehensive skin texture refinement and improvement of the visible signs of discoloration.
Your SkinCeuticals skincare professional will also recommend at-home skincare products to complement your treatment.
What is post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation?
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) is a type of dark spot that can occur after an acne blemish injury to the skin. It can also be caused by heat associated with sun radiation, waxing, laser treatments, or other in-office procedures. PIH is more common in darker skin tones.