Wednesday, 30 May 2018 16:52

Hyperpigmentation: Looking at Age and Sun Spots through the Right Lens

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Sun spots? Age spots? No matter what name is given to these little brown spots on the skin, they are all hyperpigmentation. The spots are the result of past sun damage – damage that has caused the skin to go into fight mode to protect itself. When skin senses the sun’s rays, it produces melanin to protect itself.


These dark spots are often called age spots because they become more prominent as a person ages. Years of unprotected sun exposure causes the melanin in some sections of the skin to become darker than surrounding tissue.


Historically, there was not a strong explanation for dark spots. They were blamed on age and swept under the rug. As the skin care industry has expanded over the years, the terms “sun spots” and “age spots” have been let go and these spotsare now categorized as hyperpigmentation. Scientists and product formulators have also discovered there are three main causes of hyperpigmentation.




Sun Exposure

The main function of melanin is to absorb the harmful rays of the sun. Too much sun exposure and the skin produces dark spots.



A very common form of dark spots is known as melasma – also referred to as “pregnancy mask” – and it is due to hormonal changes in the skin related to pregnancy.


Skin Trauma

Any trauma to the skin that causes a lesion has the potential to develop into a dark spot. Accidents of any sort can lead to these situations. Those with darker skin tones are more susceptible to lingering dark spots from trauma. Some examples include scratches, abrasions, lacerations, waxing burns, excessive extractions, razor bumps from ingrown hairs, and scars from acne blemishes.


Many spas and doctors can easily treat hyperpigmentation with skin care services and topical skin care products. There are two types of treatments for hyperpigmentation: exfoliation and skin lightening. Exfoliation, either manual or chemical, removes layers of skin to help remove the dark spots. There are also topical products that have skin bleaching, brightening, or lightening ingredients that also help to fade existing hyperpigmentation.




There are two primary methods for treating hyperpigmentation. One option is for clients to apply topical cosmeceutical products to their skin that contain specific skin-brightening ingredients. The other option is for clients to seek out professional skin care services that work to exfoliate the top layers of the skin.


The best course of action for any client seeking to treat hyperpigmentation is to combine professional skin care services that exfoliate the skin with brightening products in a home skin care routine. This combination will remove surface skin cells that are damaged while topical ingredients work to lighten the remaining damaged skin cells.




Dimethylmethoxy Chromanyl Palmitate

This ingredient, also known as chromabright, is known to have wonderful brightening benefits and is one of the safest brightening ingredients available.


Shiitake Mushrooms

The kojic acid that is produced from shiitake mushrooms has wonderful skin brightening effects.



This ingredient interrupts the chemical reaction in the skin that causes discoloration.




Chemical Peels

One of the most universal services in the skin care industry, peels can range from very mild enzyme peels to more advanced and powerful peels. There are many types of peels that help to remove dead skin cells, with some also acting as a skin brightener in the process.



This treatment is performed under physician supervision. Tiny needles on the tip of a wand, usually in the shape of a pen, are moved across the face, causing micro injuries. The treatment helps to increase cell turnover and improve collagen production.



This treatment involves a vacuum massage of the facial skin that is combined with either aluminum oxide crystals or a spinning, diamond-tipped head that is whisked across the skin, removing dead skin cells.


Laser Resurfacing

This physician-only service is one of many options. Laser resurfacing treatments are for tone, texture, and elasticity. These treatments can be very mild and only treat the very top layers of the skin, delivering noticeable results on a small scale – with virtually no down time


No matter the cause of a client’s hyperpigmentation, there are several options available for treatment. Professionals have access to an assortment of resources to help clients reduce, and virtually eliminate, troublesome dark spots. Every client has unique needs, so the products and services used to treat each person should be based on the client’s skin type, type of hyperpigmentation, and budget.


StublerOttmar Stubler is the president of PFB Vanish, a topical gel for the relief of irritation associated hair removal. He received his California aesthetics license in 1985 and practiced through 1996 in San Francisco. After establishing several wholesale distribution companies, Stubler formulated PFB Vanish in 1999. He remains an active educator within the industry.

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October 2021

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