[By Eunice Chong]

It may not be deep frown lines or your crow’s feet that you have, but if you feel like you have aged, chances are it’s due to your uneven skin tone. Blotchy skin doesn’t reflect light as well, making your complexion look dull.Many researchers and others have investigated what we humans identify as “beautiful”. Symmetry, large evenly spaced eyes, white teeth, a well-proportioned nose and of course, a flawless complexion. The skin is of utmost importance when people judge someone as beautiful.Many of us suffer from pigmentation problems these days, sometimes triggered by hormonal fluctuations like pregnancy or birth control pills, damage to the skin due to injury and prolonged sun exposure.

What is pigmentation?

Skin pigmentation is a condition that causes the skin to appear lighter or darker than normal. Our skin contains cells called melanocytes, which produce a pigment called melanin, which is the natural pigment responsible for the color of our skin, hair and eyes.Hyperpigmentation occurs when excess melanin forms deposits in the skin, leading to patches of skin becoming darker in color than the normal surrounding skin. Similarly, hypopigmentation occurs when patches of skin become lighter or whiter in color than the surrounding skin.

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Common types of hyperpigmentation

Common Pigmentation problems (L-R) — Melasma, Solar Lentigo (sun spot/liver spot), Ephelides (freckles)

Melasma

Commonly known as the mask of pregnancy affecting up to 70% of pregnant women, melasma is a skin condition in which light to dark brown patches of pigmentation appear on the face, especially on the forehead and cheeks. The exact cause is unknown, but certain factors such as hormonal changes in pregnancy or with birth control pills, are thought to contribute.

Solar Lentigines

Also known as sun spots or liver spots, solar lentigines are darkened spots caused by prolonged exposure to harmful ultra violet rays from the sun. They can appear at any age and any part of the exposed body and are usually not harmful though cosmetically disfiguring.

Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH)

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) is a condition in which an injury or inflammation to the skin causes increased pigment production. The most common cause of PIH is acne, but it also can result from psoriasis, a burn, or an injury, and can affect any part of the body not just the face alone. Bacne or back acne for instance is often a cause of undesirable body pigment that’s notoriously difficult to clear.

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How to tackle skin pigmentation

Pigment-busting “Holy Trinity” from the SW1 Shop (L to R) — UMBRELLA, WHITE PLASMA, SPECIAL EFFECTS

Broad spectrum sunscreen

Prevention is always better than cure. One of the best ways to avoid pigmentation and/or to prevent worsening of existing pigmentation is to apply a broad spectrum, UVA and UVB shielding sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30+ regularly, especially if outdoors.The SW1 UMBRELLA UV Protection & Light Diffusing Cream is a powerful 100% chemical and fragrance-free physical blocker that offers top notched sun protection, providing mega dose of SPF 70 with potent UV-shielding ingredients including Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide, suspended in a blend of 3 antioxidant teas with an invisible shine-absorbing micro mesh of UV reflectors. A super lightweight and non-comedogenic formula that doesn’t clog pores, this soleil protecteur extraordinaire forms a breathable shield to safeguard you from both burn-causing UVB beams and pigment-inducing UVA rays.

Topical lightening products

The formation of melanin from melanocytes to its eventual deposition on the skin surface is a multi-step procedure and various factors had been identified to stop this process at different stages. When you are shopping for cosmeceuticals for hyperpigmentation, look out for key ingredients such as hydroquinoneor its derivatives, vitamin C, tranexamic acid, azelic acid,kojic acid,arbutin, licorice, mulberry and soy produce.

Mequinol, Vitamin A, Ascorbic acid are a trio of dermal lighteners that work synergistically to fade facial discoloration caused by sun damage, blemishes & scarring found in SW1 SPECIAL EFFECTS Whitening & Brightening Cream. It evens out skin tone, re-texturizes roughened skins, illuminating dull & damaged skins while repairing cellular aging from daily environmental attacks so skin looks radiant, luminous and pigment free in no time.

Melanin forms through a series of oxidative reactions involving the amino acid tyrosine in the presence of the enzyme tyrosinase. A tyrosinase inhibitor will help prevent the overproduction of this enzyme, and hopefully help prevent hyperpigmentation of the skin. Optimal for problematic skin with colour woes, SW1 WHITE PLASMA Whitening & Illuminating Serum is a high-tech facial serum that is oil-free and hydroquinone-free, helping to combat pesky discolouration and even out skin tone with vitamin C and tyrosinase inhibitors including tranexamic acid.

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The Doctor’s Office

For stubborn pigmentation like melasma and lentigines that don’t seem to respond to your creams, they can be safely and effectively treated with a variety of medical treatments.

Chemical peels

In the hands of a skilled physician, Professional Chemical Peels are cost effective, minimally invasive beauty treats with a slew of skin benefits including tackling skin pigmentation. Customized individually to suit your particular skin type, color and needs, a singular or blend of AHAs and BHAs can be employed to return your peau to its soft, supple and blemish-free state. You’ll begin to see improvements after just one session but a series of treatments will lead to more significant and visible changes to the appearance of your skin.

Apart from the face, peels work equally well on other body parts such as the back and décolletage. Back peels are the perfect foil for stubborn acne and dastardly back blemishes that tend to sabotage the bride-to-be looking to play a little peek-a-boo, restoring her confidence to work a backless number with panache. If you happen to fall into said category, make sure you secure your appointments way in advance, for a series of 6 to 8 sessions done regularly at monthly interval is necessary for best outcome.

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Pigment lasers

For stubborn pigmentation that don’t seem to respond to your creams, they can be safely and effectively treated with a variety of laser treatments. However, one should not see lasers as a last resort to tackle pigmentation. In fact, early treatment with the correct type of laser that is appropriate to one’s skin type not only help to clear pigmentation faster and earlier, but has the dual benefit of preventing further pigment formation too.

The Pico Pigment Laser, is certainly one of the most gentle (yet highly effective) form of laser treatment on the current market. It is the latest generation of FDA-approved pigment lasers that engages state-of-the-art Picosecond technology to generate very high tensile stress which effectively shatter pigments under the skin at very low energy settings.Pulverized pigments are absorbed much more efficiently, resulting in speedier elimination of the pigmented particles by the body. The ultra-short bursts also mean lesser thermal damage to surrounding normal tissue, thus there is less erythema and swelling compared to more traditional lasers such as the Q-switch NdYag, dramatically reducing the risks of PIH (Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation) and scarring.

As part of the Removal & Revival Program, Pico pigment laser is used in Quattro Toning with Skin Smoothing Peel Masks for depigmentation of uneven skin discoloration caused by inflammation because of repeated manual epilation with shaving or waxing. With all these different ways to tackle your pigmentation woes, hopefully, in no time at all, your skin will go from patchy to perfect!

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