Hyperpigmentation is excess production of melanin, which appears dark spots or patches, visibly darker than the surrounding areas.
Prolonged exposure to the sun is the major triggering factor, while others include hormonal changes, certain medications and inflammation of the skin.
A small pilot study reveals people suffering from melasma, also suffer from a condition more devastating than melasma( a type of Hyperpigmentation ) i.e. lack of self-esteem. People become more self-conscious about their condition and feel embarrassed about it. Some even restricted themselves from outdoor activities like jogging so that their melasma does not worsen due to the sun, also to avoid social interactions. Thus melasma has a huge impact on the well-being of people.
After having known the causes of Hyperpigmentation, The next step would be to look out for products that work against it. They can be classified into two broad categories:
- Ingredients that inhibit melanin production (e.g. Arbutin, retinol )
- Ingredients that remove pigmentation from the upper layer of the skin (Exfoliating acids like glycolic acid, lactic acid etc)Here’s a list of some well-known ingredients :
- Alpha Arbutin: Alpha arbutin has a cleverer way to combat Hyperpigmentation. It penetrates deep within the skin & suppresses melanin production, which is most effective against Hyperpigmentation.
Tyrosine is an amino acid that catalyses melanin production by binding to the Tyrosinase enzyme.
Alpha arbutin is a Tyrosine Analogue. It binds to tyrosinase at its active site, which in turn prevents Tyrosine from binding. Thus, inhibiting the production of excess melanin.
- Exfoliating acids
Exfoliants such as AHA‘s & BHA’s can help remove pigmentation superficially. They simply weaken the bonds between dead skin cells, allowing them to slough off easily.
Mandelic acid is an Alpha Hydroxy Acid(AHA) derived from bitter Almonds. It is a gentle exfoliator. Unlike other AHAs like lactic acid & Glycolic acid, It has a larger molecular size, due to which its penetration is slower. Thus, It acts gently on the skin without causing irritation & helps in the treatment of Hyperpigmentation.
- Retinol-Retinol is a derivative of Vitamin A from the Retinoid family and is best known to diminish visible signs of ageing such as Hyperpigmentation, fine lines & wrinkles. It increases epidermal sin turnover. This minimizes the contact between keratinocytes and melanocytes, making pigmentation less visible. It delays ageing plumps up the skin by enhancing the production of elastin & Collagen, whose production decreases as we age.
- Tranexamic acid: The acid is gaining immense popularity in skincare, all thanks to its non-irritating & potent strategy to treat hyperpigmentation, which makes it different from other exfoliating acids.
Upon U.V irradiation or skin injuries, Keratinocyte (aka skin cells) produces plasmin/plasminogen which stimulates melanocytes (aka melanin-producing cells)to produce more melanin by
- Boosting tyrosinase activity
- Melanocyte differentiation
- Transfer of melanosome(a site where melanin is synthesised & stored) to the epidermis
Tranexamic acid is derived from the amino acid lysine ( Amino acids are building blocks of protein). It interferes with plasmin, Thus inhibiting melanin production.
To try out this very effective ingredient, Arbutin + Tranexamic acid serum by Suganda is the right choice. The serum targets Hyperpigmentation ( PIE& PIH ) via multiple pathways.
- Niacinamide: Niacinamide is a Superstar ingredient in the skincare market. It is a water-soluble derivative of Vitamin B3. It inhibits melanosome transfer from melanocytes ( melanin-producing cells) to Keratinocytes ( skin cells ), thereby treating Hyperpigmentation. In addition to that, It reverses photo-ageing by strengthening the skin barrier, decreasing visible signs of ageing such as fine lines and wrinkles.
Treating Hyperpigmentation is difficult but possible. It requires correct treatment and consistency. However, prevention is the best way to keep hyperpigmentation at bay. Avoid direct sunlight, especially during peak hours i.e between 10 am to 2 pm. Incorporating Vitamin C in your daily skincare regimen can also help prevent Hyperpigmentation.
- Pigmentation section of advanced skin analysis book
- Jiang, J., Akinseye, O., Tovar-Garza, A., & Pandya, A. G. (2017). The effect of melasma on self-esteem: A pilot study. International journal of women's dermatology, 4(1), 38–42. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijwd.2017.11.003