7 Pathways That Cause Dark Spots and Skin Pigmentation

Dark spots, melasma, discolored acne scars, and uneven skin tone are all examples of common skin pigmentation problems that have a tendency to occur in those with pigmented Baumann Skin Types®.

If you struggle with one or more of these hyperpigmentation issues, don’t worry. Using a skincare regimen that addresses the seven pathways that play a role in skin pigmentation can reverse and prevent uneven skin tone.

1. Block Pigment Production

The pigment melanin is responsible for giving your skin its unique color. However, when too much melanin is produced, dark spots, uneven skin tone, and other pigment-related problems can occur.

In order to treat and prevent dyspigmentation caused by overactive melanocytes (the cells that produce melanin), we can use ingredients known as tyrosinase inhibitors. Tyrosinase is an enzyme that melanocytes use to create melanin. Thus, by blocking tyrosinase, you can balance melanin production and achieve a more even complexion.

Some of the best tyrosinase inhibitors in skincare include:

  • Ascorbic acid (vitamin C)
  • Kojic acid
  • Licorice extract
  • Mulberry extract
  • Resveratrol and other flavonoids

2. Block Pigment Transfer

Once melanocytes create melanin in the deeper basal layer of your skin, that melanin is then transported up to the surface of your skin, where you will see it as dark spots or uneven tone. However, there is a special receptor called PAR-2 (protease-activated receptor 2) that acts as a doorway for the traveling melanin along the way. If these PAR-2 “doors” are closed, the melanin cannot reach the surface of your skin and therefore will not show up as dark spots.

Certain skin-brightening ingredients work by closing these PAR-2 doors and preventing melanin from reaching the epidermis. These ingredients are best used in combination with tyrosinase inhibitors to help speed up the skin-brightening process.

Niacinamide and activated soy are two of the most common PAR-2 blockers in skincare.

3. Prevent Inflammation

Inflammation is your body’s natural response to skin irritations or injuries. Sometimes, however, you can be left with dark spots or discoloration even after a rash or wound has healed. This is called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) and it happens because inflammation can “turn on” melanocyte cells, causing too much melanin production.

When possible, prevent inflammation from occurring in the first place by using anti-inflammatory ingredients such as chamomile, feverfew, aloe, niacinamide, and argan oil.

In some cases, a skin allergy can cause dark spots on the skin. If this is true for you, do not use skin-lightening products that contain hydroquinone or hydroquinone derivatives, as these can cause skin allergies. Instead, try a gentle skin-lightening product such as Medature Hydro Bright Treatment, which contains anti-inflammatory niacinamide, antioxidants, and resorcinol, a gentle brightening ingredient.

4. Exfoliate

Exfoliation speeds up the skin’s natural desquamation process, during which old skin cells fall away from the surface and are replaced by fresh new skin cells that are created deeper in the skin. Through exfoliation, you encourage the growth and migration of new cells to the surface of your skin, where they will eventually even-out your skin tone when using the proper skin-brightening regimen and avoiding triggers like UV exposure.

5. Protect Against Free Radicals

Free radicals are unstable molecules that have an unpaired electron. They are created by a number of internal and external factors, including UV exposure, air pollution, and cigarette smoke. When more free radicals are created than your body can neutralize, you end up with something called oxidative stress. Oxidative stress can lead to cell damage and the premature breakdown of important components of healthy skin like collagen, leading to wrinkles, dark spots, and inflammatory skin conditions.

In addition to avoiding known causes of free radicals, we can supply our bodies with additional antioxidants to help neutralize existing free radicals and therefore prevent oxidative stress. Antioxidants can be applied directly to the skin in the form of products like vitamin C serum, pure argan oil, and many others. Eating a diet rich in antioxidants can also give your skin a boost of free radical protection.

6. Prevent Melanocyte Activation

The sun’s UV rays trigger melanocytes in your skin to produce more melanin, since melanin aids in protection from photodamage. However, overproduction of melanin leads to dark spots, uneven skin tone, melasma, and other pigmentation problems.

Instead of relying on your skin to “turn on” melanin production to protect your skin from the sun, use sunscreen to avoid skin damage and maintain an even skin tone. There are many types and formulations of sunscreen, so choosing a sunscreen that works well with your skin type and suits your personal preferences is easier now than ever.

7. Use the Proper Moisturizers

When treating uneven skin tone, it is crucial that you investigate your entire skincare regimen — not just skin-brightening products. The moisturizer that you use, for example, can have a significant impact on the effectiveness of those skin-brightening ingredients. While saturated fatty acids are generally very hydrating, they can block skin-brightening ingredients from absorbing into your skin.

Instead, pair these treatment ingredients with a moisturizer that contains mostly unsaturated fatty acids, which allow for better absorption of skin-brightening products.

What’s the Best Skincare Regimen for Uneven Skin Tone?

The best skincare regimen for uneven skin tone needs to address all seven of the above pathways. Additionally, it must be customized for your Baumann Skin Type®. Otherwise, pigmentation problems could worsen by using the wrong products or in the wrong order.

Luckily, you don’t have to keep track of all the science on your own. Once you know your Baumann Skin Type®, you can easily begin using your customized skincare regimen to achieve a brighter, more even complexion while minimizing any side effects or risks of worsening pigmentation problems.

Finally, remember to give any new skincare regimen several weeks to start working. Treating dark spots and uneven skin tone can take some time, as new skin cells need to be generated and given time to replace the older cells on the surface of your skin. Consistency is key!

April 25, 2023 Melasma, Uncategorized