Overcast Days: Hyperpigmentation Marks

You thought you got lucky because you have read in countless magazines that you won’t experience aging the same way because maybe you are of east asian, south asian, middle eastern, latin, certain slavic, mediterranean, or mixed racial descent and you don’t wrinkle easily.  Haha!  Step back.   You may not be wrinkling as easily, but you’ll still be showing some “age” because, if wrinkles won’t get you, hyperpigmentation will.

I didn’t notice my discoloration until a female classmate commented on it.  How my forehead was darker than other parts of my face.  I was like – whaaaa?!  A closer inspection revealed what I had been blind to, probably because I see my face so often in bathroom mirrors every day that I became blind to differences in my skintone.  My attention was so focused on getting rid of acne, I became blind to other skin troubles. I quickly noted there were parts of my face that NEVER changed color and others that had larger splotches of irregular darker color.

Hyperpigmentation can be caused by any of the following: acne, faded perma-tans that don’t go anywhere, age spots (liver spots), cuts, melasma, and just general ole’ aging, where your skin cells slough off slower and slower, allowing your complexion to get dulled and sallow as time goes by.  This affects everyone, whether you wrinkle easily, or not.   Numerous studies have been done on aging and it has been determined that skin discoloration can be just as aging as wrinkles. 

So what do you do?  Prevention is key.  Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen! But if you are like me and you are already marked up by the sun, old acne scars, slower sloughing of skin cells and something called melasma (sun induced irregular patches of large tan/brown patches across your face) then you have to combat the patches you already have in the most gentle and safest way possible. 

I have already mentioned in an earlier post that many dermatologists like to tout hydroquinone as the best ingredient for getting rid of these hyperpigmentation marks.  But as I have mentioned before, this is not necessarily the safest way to go.  Even if the link to potential liver damage is tenuous, there still remains the fact that hydroquinone has been linked to causing PERMANENT hyperpigmentation in some individuals, if it is used long enough.  No thanks!  So, I like to rely on key ingredients that will accelerate the sloughing of skin cells, lift hyperpigmentation marks, prevent oxidative damage, and produce new, unblemished skin.

Here are a list of ingredients that I always check for:

KOJIC  ACID     NIACINAMIDE     MULBERRY EXTRACT     LICORICE EXTRACT     ARBUTIN     AZELAIC ACID     BEARBERRY     L-ASCORBIC ACID

LYCOPENE     RESORCINOL     LACTIC ACID     GLYCOLIC ACID     MANDELIC ACID     SALICYLIC ACID     RETINOL     ANY VITAMIN C DERIVATIVE

GLUCOSAMINE     FERULIC ACID     LEMON OIL     PAPAIN

This list is not exhaustive.   There are always new fancy schmancy ingredients being concocted or found.   These are ingredients that are commonly found in reputable brands and are not hard to find.   My favorite go to ingredients are Retinol Rx, Vitamin C, and Glycolic Acid.  The combination of these three have cleared up my skin within a matter of weeks.  The key of course is prevention and that is where I partially fall short.  I do not apply sunscreen all the time and I do not REAPPLY when I do.  Plus, it’s difficult to combat old marks, when you are constantly battling new acne (shakes fist vigorously at adult hormonal acne).

The goal is CLEAR.   🙂 

Keep the skin you were born with as luminous and glowing as you can maintain it. 

If you want a tan, get a spray or bottle tan and get some bronzer.  You may look tropical cute now, but in ten years you will be of the LEATHERY SPOTTED sort. 

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