Hyperpigmentation, or skin pigmentation, is the darkening of an area of skin, which can include anything from freckles and dark spots to melasma.
The main cause, according to skin expert and founder of freezeframe, Sonia Amoroso, is thought to be oxidative and nitrosative stress.
She explained: “We all know about oxidative stress caused by oxygen based free radicals, but nitrogen based free radicals are thought to be an even more significant contributor to pigmentation.
“UV rays from the sun are the major cause of free radicals, but pollution and tobacco smoke, as well as many industrial chemicals also play a major role.”
People with low levels of melanin are more prone to freckles or sun spots, but people with darker skin-tones are more prone to pigmentation caused by injury and post-inflammatory scarring, said Sonia.
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Sonia continued: “Women going through hormonal changes are also more susceptible to hyperpigmentation, as changes in oestrogen can make you more sensitive to the sun – this is why melasma is often called the mask of pregnancy.
“Age spots are more common in people over 40 as melanocytes decrease but the remaining ones increase in size, creating a more focused pigmentation.
“Of course, knowing that UV radiation creates free radicals which can lead to pigmentation (and many other nasties) if you have high sun exposure and inflammation, you are more likely to develop pigmentation.”
So can pigmentation be the sign of something serious?
It’s generally harmless and not a sign of a serious medical condition, said Sonia.
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But she warned: “It is important to keep an eye on any changes in spots or discolouration. If you notice any spots turning scaly, or changing, be sure to see your doctor.”
To reduce the appearance of existing pigmentation, you can opt for laser treatments or clinical skin peels which can be quite costly.
At home treatments used to include hydroquinone, but this has now been banned in the UK due to serious side effects.
Sonia recommended: “Australian-made PIGMENT CLEAR by freezeframe was developed to provide an alternative to hydroquinone based creams, with this all natural formula shown to reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation by up to 87 percent in one month.
“Developed to deal with the damage caused by the harshest sun in the world, freezeframe PIGMENT CLEAR includes 10 powerful plant-based ingredients which have been proven to reduce the appearance of pigmentation and skin discolouration. The unique combination of ingredients provides a 360 degree skin treatment which included high levels of plant based retinols to slough away darkened skin cells, plant extracts high in antioxidants and a powerful tocopherol derived free-radical scavenger which targets nitrogen based free radicals – thought to be the major cause of pigmentation. Apart from being proven to have a dramatic effect of pigmentation, it also provides over 99 percent pollution protection and filters UV rays.
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“Many of the ingredients in freezeframe PIGMENT CLEAR have studies which show significant effects on reducing the appearance of pigmentation. These include cacay oil, rosehip oil and pracaxi oil which remove darkened skin by exfoliation due to their high levels of plant retinols.
“Other ingredients have proven antioxidant activity including inca inchi, lycopene, acai seed oil and cranberry seed oil. Then there are other proven antioxidants such as mixed tocopherols and tocotrienols (various forms of vitamin E), and a powerful vitamin e derivative called chromanol which is proven to neutralise nitrogen based free radicals (thought to be the major cause of pigmentation). It’s even proven to provide more than 99 percent protection against pollution and filter UV rays.
“But the most impressive clinical studies were on the proprietary blend of all of these ingredients combined in freezeframe PIGMENT CLEAR. An independent clinical study on freezeframe PIGMENT CLEAR showed up to 87 percent reduction in pigmentation in just four weeks. It was more powerful than any of the individual ingredients, and was shown to be more effective than hydroquinone, without any skin bleaching or side effects.”
Limiting your exposure to free-radical damage is also vital. The most obvious way to do this is to reduce sun exposure and wear a high SPF sunscreen which protects against both UVA and UVB radiation, said Sonia.
Reducing exposure to pollution and tobacco smoke are also important if you want to achieve clear, even skin.
Sonia added: “Antioxidants as supplements, or in your diet, can also help create a multi-layered approach to reduce and prevent further pigmentation.”
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