Post Summer Skin
While looking (hopefully) a bit more rested and refreshed after the summer break, this time of year is when pigmentation or melasma (darkening patches of pigmented area on the face) can be at it’s most obvious after extra UV exposure. It can range from be a light dusting of freckles across the face to more prominent dark patches on the cheeks (often symmetrical), chin or around the mouth. We asked Dr Ophelia for the lowdown and what to do about it.
Can anyone develop pigmentation and melasma?
All skin types can develop pigmentation or melasma which will worsen during summer months due to UV exposure. Melasma is often trickier to deal with than sun-induced pigmentation as it may be hormonal (and can worsen during or after pregnancy, perimenopause and even taking some HRT medication for some people). Darker skins will usually suffer more with melasma but all skin types can be affected.
Is it advisable to just to wait for it to fade on its own?
I never tell my patients to wait for melasma or pigmentation to fade on its own as there are proven ingredients and things you can do to help it fade more effectively and quicker than just leaving it gently fade over time. The problem is it can often come back – so it’s good to try and keep it in check.
What skincare do you advise?
Skincare can make a huge improvement. The ingredient Tranexamic Acid for example is a proven active ingredient which I use in my bespoke Hyperpigmentation Day Serum which will help fade pigmentation. Hydroquinone is the gold standard dermatological active ingredient for targeting areas of darkening. It works by inhibiting the activity of the tyrosinase, the enzyme needed to make melanin. Hydroquinone is added to my Hyperpigmentation Night Serum. I will assess the strength needed depending on how severe the darkening is. But these are all proven to effectively treat the problem as quickly and efficiently as possible. Unfortunately so many over the counter so called anti-pigmentation remedies do nothing at all as they simply do not have sufficient levels of active ingredients to make a real difference.
How long will it take?
Obviously every individual’s case is different. It’s not an overnight quick fix – more like months. I developed my products to be used to treat and fix a problem, and then you move on to a maintenance product. You won’t have to use the Hyperpigmentation range forever.
What else can I do?
SPF is crucial. Don’t stop using it just because it’s not as sunny during the Autumn and Winter months. Try and use a SPF with a physical sunblock as you know you’ll be well protected. I recommend the Skinceuticals Ultra Facial Defense SPF 50. The consistency is good and most people really like this one under makeup.
What about laser?
I’d be really careful about treating pigmentation with laser as something like IPL for example can make the problem worse long term. For some cases the Q switched ND:Yag laser can be good for treating pigmentation in people with light coloured skin.
Do you suggest any other treatments?
A chemical peel in clinic can work really well for treating both pigmentation and melasma. The one I use in my clinic is called the VI peel and the results are impressive.
Any other advice?
Post summer is a really good time of the year to have any irregularities of darkened pigmented areas checked properly with a dermatologist as they can identify anything that may be pre-cancerous. If in doubt about anything, absolutely get it checked as some sun relative skin changes can be pre-cancerous and may need biopsies or treatment with creams or surgery.