In a selfie obsessed world, it appears that the more even a skin tone, the higher the perception of facial attractiveness. Skin that has an even tone is also strongly linked to a perception of better health. Research by Evolutionary Biologist Dr. Bernhard Fink, has suggested that redness, pigmentation marks and uneven skin tone significantly influence the perception of age, irrespective of lines and wrinkles. Consequently, the implication is that individuals with even skin tone tend to appear younger than those with uneven skin tone.
SO WHAT CAUSES PIGMENTATION?
Des Fernandes, leading skincare innovator and founder of Environ® addressed the topic of pigmentation on his UK and Ireland tour and global announcement of the Radiance+ range, formulated specifically to combat the issue of pigmentation.
“Pigmentation starts with vitamin A deficiency. When the skin becomes deprived of vitamin A, the growing layer of the skin becomes less active as cells divide less frequently. The DNA is also affected and damage no longer repaired as effectively, resulting in irregular pigment distribution and darker marks on the skin. Correct the vitamin A deficiency, protect and improve skin resilience to external lifestyle and environmental factors and visible signs of pigmentation can be addressed”
DR DES FERNANDES
As with many skin conditions, the issue of pigmentation starts below the surface of the skin. Melanocyte cells, situated in the basal cell layer at the junction of the epidermis and dermis, pass melanin to the keratinocyte cell.
Keratinocytes are very important in the production of active molecules that control the formulation of melanin as well as collagen and growth factors. Pigmentation occurs whenmelanin production is altered at the DNA level from free radical damage most commonly from UVA, visible blue light (think about the rise of digital devices and prolonged daily usage) and direct damage from UVB.
Other causes of altered natural melanin production outside of excessive exposure to the sun include hormonal changes, pregnancy (where hyperpigmentation can appear on any part of the body) liver spots or solar lentigines which appear over a prolonged time on hands as well as the face, injury and even certain medications.
Both intrinsic and extrinsic factors sit behind the rise of pigmentation. Intrinsic factors that regulate pigmentation, originate not only from keratinocytes but also from endothelial cells and hormones from blood supply, inflammatory cells and the nervous system. Hormonal factors that stimulate pigmentation include estrogen e.g pregnancy and endorphins while hyperpigmentation is clinically observed in response to inflammation. UV is the most powerful and well-known extrinsic factor that enhances skin pigmentation.
When consulting with a client on the area of pigmentation, it’s crucial to get below the surface of the skin both physically (if possible through a full skin analysis) and with regards to lifestyle. Given the contributing factors, a 360 degree approach should be considered. We asked our three key experts for their top tips:
Adopting the right approach to nutrition can help minimise and slow down the enzymes/processes involved in using pigmentation. A diet rich in vitamins and nutrients combined with oral supplementation containing vitamin A and vitamin D with antioxidants such as vitamin C, pine bark and astaxanthin will all help to counteract intrinsic and extrinsic damaging factors.
Skin that is vitamin A deficient is more likely to develop pigmentation so supplementing with vitamin A will help repair DNA damage. The creation of melanin is an oxidative process so a powerful antioxidant such as vitamin C counteracts this and as a result will limit excess pigment production.
Acne may lead to scarring and damage in the deeper layers of the skin, which has been known to exacerbate pigmentation due to cells being damaged. Tackle problematic skin from within, ideally before condition worsens and before pigmentation sets in. Advanced Nutrition Programme’s Skin Accumax™ is ideal for problematic skin, it can help to calm and relieve redness, whilst nourishes all layers of the skin to help clarify and clear the complexion.
Avoid excessive sun exposure. The damage caused may not become apparent for some years as it takes a long time for the damage to reach the surface, so advise good habits such as protecting the skin from the sun and avoid over exposure. Advise sun protection and the use of vitamin A from as young an age as possible.
The Environ® Focus Care™ Radiance+ Range can be incorporated into the clients skincare regime as a specific target system of products to counteract pigmentation, although we must remember the importance of vitamin A and the normalising effect this has to the skin and is primary in generating healthy skin. New products in the Environ® Focus Care™ Radiance+ Range include the exciting Vita-Botanical Mela-Fade Serum system A+B system (a synergistic duo of products) that contain ingredients including: Biobenefity - an extract from the leaves of the artichoke plant and Alpina White (Extract of the seeds of Alpinia Katsumadai Hayata) which inhibits tyrosinase activity, Clariju (from plums) is used to inhibit the uptake of melanosomes into the keratinocyte cells and Neem Leaf Liquid (from Neem Tree Leaves) and Sakura Extract B (from the Japanese flowering cherry) both assist in inhibiting melanin production . The new system can be used with the DF Mobile Skincare Device on positive polarity, for deeper penetration of these ingredients.
Offer the Advanced Active Vitamin Treatment using the Intense Retinol and/or Intense C Peel to maximise results. Vitamin C is the key co-factor in melanin formation and as such has a normalising effect on increased activity of the melanocytes during the pigmentation process. The treatment will also boost vital vitamin A. Remember, the success of any treatment for pigmentation is always and completely dependent on how well sun exposure can be managed during and after treatment.
Hydroquinone inhibits the enzyme tyrosinase which is necessary for melanin production in the skin however it also increases the cytotoxicity of the melanocytes. Essentially this means that hydroquinone can kill melanin producing cells within the skin. Even low doses of hydroquinone are best avoided to as it may cause ochronosis, a bluish black discolouration of the skin.
Absolutely, there are multiple products in the jane iredale range that not only protect you from further damage by providing an effective form of SPF but also offer natural brightening agents such as grapefruit extract and green apple to lighten and adjust uneven skin tone.
Clients often choose a concealer that is too light or the same shade as their foundation, which can accentuate hyperpigmentation instead of camouflaging it. In addition, using too much product can draw attention and look heavy. Skipping a primer is also a common mistake, causing the area to look dry and cakey. Using jane iredale’s Smooth Affair® Facial Primer & Brightener will not only avoid the area looking dry, but will also brighten the skin while the green apple pectin will help promote natural cell turnover helping even out skin tone.
Consider a peach based colour corrector such as jane iredale’s Enlighten Concealer™. This will cancel out any dark spots without leaving a grey or ashy cast on the skin, while also adding hydration. Don’t forget to reapply your powder foundation throughout the day, as this is not only a make-up touch-up but also the easiest way to reapply sun protection. Setting your make-up with a hydration spray can keep your make-up looking fresh for hours requiring less touch-ups to areas that you camouflage.
• Pigmentation issues lie beneath the surface of the skin caused by external and internal factors including: sun exposure, hormonal conditions, injury or infection
• Avoid excessive sun exposure. However attractive the idea of tanned skin remember, the damage caused may not become apparent till years later
• Nutrition can help minimise and slow down the enzymes/processes involved in causing pigmentation, most notably vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, Pine bark and Astaxanthin
• Skin should be always be normalised using vitamin A and then the pigmentation concern treated with targeted formulations.
• Hydroquinone should be avoided at all costs as it can kill normal melanin producing cells
• Take care with over-use of standard concealer and foundation, as this can accentuate hyperpigmentation rather than camouflaging it
• Recommend make-up that has natural lightening and brightening agents to help promote natural cell turnover