Make-up free day? How do I get rid of brown spots and smooth out uneven pigmentation?

I wear SPF 50 every day, rain or shine. So why am I still seeing all this pigmentation?

This is something we hear all too often in our clinics. Unfortunately, for most of us the damage was already done in our childhood. Too much sun, too much carrot oil! Pigmentation is the second most frequent issue we see at the clinic, second only to patients asking if Botox will help soften wrinkles.

Think of pigmentation as your skin’s protective mechanism. The brown pigment melanin is produced whenever your skin is feeling ‘threatened’, to act as a filter, stopping some of the UV rays from penetrating down to your dermis and damaging collagen and DNA. Because of sun exposure when we were younger, many of us have skin that is now hypersensitive to UV, on ‘red alert’ if you like. So it really takes nothing to trigger this protective response. Even just UV light coming through your windscreen on a rainy day can do it!

How can we prevent Pigmentation?

Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen! It’s a must when it comes to preventing sun damage, pigmentation and skin cancer.

There are so many great sunscreens available now, for every skin type. Sometimes it can take a few attempts, but I promise you there will be a formulation out there that won’t feel too greasy, too ‘summery’. That won’t cause congestion, or make you look white and shiny. And there are some really hardworking products available now – that can act as moisturisers or primers, and even be used instead of foundation, the finish is so good.

Which is the best Sun Screen to use?

I can’t stress strongly enough how individual this is – there are so many good products available in terms of their effectiveness. But equally important for me and my clients is the finish, you need to be comfortable applying your SPF every morning, without a second thought. A few of my favourites are:

OBAGI SUN SHIELD MATTE BROAD SPECTRUM SPF 50, a super light weight formula, offering UVA-UVB and infra-red ray protection; it’s also PABA-free and fragrance free. Obagi have also launched this product in a tinted version which doubles up as a skin foundation – this is a top seller at the clinic.

HELIOCARE 360 Fluid Cream SPF 50+ is a hard-hitter on pollution, especially good for all of us here, living and working in the city. It’s super moisturising and packed with bioshield filters and powerful anti-oxidants.

NEOSTRATA ENLIGHTEN SKIN BRIGHTENER SPF 25 has a patented NeoGlucosamine formula, which is useful for helping to break down pigmentation on the skin as well as brightening and protecting. Triple action!

ELTA MD CLEAR is a brilliant US brand, new to our shelves! Non-greasy, loved by our patients prone to congestion and breakouts. And also packed with antioxidants, niacinamide and hyaluronic acid to moisturise and a ‘barely there’ finish, which is proving very popular.

How do you treat Pigmentation?

Treating pigmentation and melasma (hormonal pigmentation) is not quick and simple; it has taken years for our skin to develop these imperfections, so it takes a lot of commitment to treat it.
We are very fortunate at Medicetics to have two amazing skincare systems:

OBAGI NUDERM SKINCARE SYSTEM is a set of five homecare products that you use daily for 12-18 weeks. The results are undeniable and are achieved through using a combination of Phytic acid, Hydroquinone 4% and Tretinoin (vitamin A). This is a prescription skincare system, using prescription-only ingredients widely considered to be the gold standard in depigmenting systems.

COSMELAN is a powerful, hydroquinone-free chemical peel, designed to treat stubborn and dense pigmentation in all skin types and tones, including Asian and African Caribbean skin.

The peel is followed up with homecare using Cosmelan 2 Depigmentation Cream, which combines Azelaic and Kojic acid with Retinol. This system is great for eradicating dark spots as well as for reducing lines and wrinkles.

Do Vitamin-C serums really help?

Yes. I always encourage my patients to use Vitamin-C in the morning to support their sunscreen, or at night to support your skin’s repair processes. Vitamin C fights free-radical damage that is triggered by air pollution. There is more and more evidence that pollution causes pigmentation. Of course, making sure that your diet is right is the most important factor here, but blood supply to the skin isn’t great – it’s important to ‘dose-up’ from the outside too.

OBAGI PROFESSIONAL-C SERUM 10%- 15%-20% is a concentrated anti-ageing serum, infused with L-Ascorbic Acid, the only form of Vitamin C for topical application, which provides effective anti-oxidant protection from UV damage as it brightens away hyper pigmentation and encourages the growth of collagen and elastin fibers.

Which products are you using at the moment?

I am on my own personal journey with treating my pigmentation. I have mediterranean skin, pigmentation is an ongoing issue for me. Most recently I have been using the Obagi Nu-derm system. Six weeks in and I have seen a big improvement.

Treatment of pigmentation is a commitment, and I always tell my clients this. You do have to persevere at times with dryness and mild irritation, but that will subside. My skin already looks clearer and smoother. My pores and fine lines are reduced and my skin just looks more refreshed. I am looking forward to the end result!

Any pigmentation patches I still have visible after the 18 weeks will be treated using a combination of IPL and Laser Genesis. And then monthly hydrafacials for maintenance, to hold on to this glow. Oh I do love my job!

To find out more about the treatment of pigmentation with our aestheticians Gabriella and Lenka at Medicetics in Connaught Street, London, get in touch or book a consultation via our online booking system today.