For many of us aspiring to achieve radiant skin, the sun is undoubtedly our greatest enemy. We know by now that direct and frequent sun exposure can create uneven dark spots on our skin, but how exactly does this occur and how do we tackle this tricky problem? We break down the science behind this common skin issue and share expert-approved tips to help you achieve your skin goals.
What is hyperpigmentation, and what is it caused by?
The unevenly darkened patches and spots on your skin is called hyperpigmentation. This is caused by an increase in production of melanin, the natural pigment that gives your skin and hair their colour.
The increased melanin production can be triggered by a variety of factors, but the main one is sun exposure. Melanin helps to protect you from harmful sun rays, which is why sun exposure triggers the production of more melanin in your skin. In normal circumstances, this increased melanin production results in a more or less even tan; however, excessive sun exposure can disrupt this process and lead to the formation of uneven dark spots on skin.
Oxidative stress caused by the sun’s UVA and UVB rays are the primary cause of premature skin aging and skin hyperpigmentation issues, but recent studies have shown that high-energy visible light (commonly known as blue light), the light we see all around us, can also contribute to hyperpigmentation.
Types of hyperpigmentation caused by sun exposure
As the name suggests, sunspots are patches of skin that are darkened due to sun exposure. They commonly appear on parts of the skin that are frequently exposed to the sun, particularly the face, neck, and hands. Once dark spots have developed, continued sun exposure can actually make them even darker!
Sunspots are sometimes also called age spots – as your skin ages, the number of melanocytes (melanin-producing cells) decreases but the remaining ones increase in size and become more tightly packed. Hence, these dark spots are more commonly found in those aged 50 and above.
Melasma is particularly common among women, especially those with darker skin tones. It typically appears as bigger hyperpigmented blotches on the skin, particularly on the face. However, those who are frequently exposed to the sun will tend to find melasma on their neck and arms as well.
Whilst the primary trigger of melasma is hormonal, sunlight is responsible for stimulating the melasma process and worsening the pigmentation.
How to prevent hyperpigmentation
Prevention is always better than cure, and thankfully there is a way to prevent hyperpigmentation from occurring or from becoming more prominent: proper sun care.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), here are some steps you can take to prevent hyperpigmentation caused by sun exposure:
- When possible, wear long-sleeved clothing made from tightly woven fabric to provide protection from UV rays.
- Put on broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher before you go outside.
- Reapply sunscreen if you stay out in the sun for more than two hours, especially if you are swimming or sweating.
If you have problems finding a broad-spectrum sunscreen that works for you, look no further: Heliocare’s topical sunscreen range has the best coverage against UVA & UVB rays in the market. This range is especially effective for those who are prone to hyperpigmentation as it can protect skin cells (DNA) and repair the damage caused by UV rays.
For those with oily, acne-prone skin, we highly recommend the Heliocare 360° Gel Oil-free SPF 50, an oil-free, dry-touch sunscreen that provides full-spectrum sun protection to prevent stimulation of melanin production. If you are looking for a moisturising sunscreen that can keep your skin hydrated and protected for long hours, you will love the Heliocare 360º Water Gel SPF 50+ for its ultra-light aqueous gel formulation.
Hyperpigmentation is frequently found on areas not fully covered by clothes or sunscreen, which is why it is important to supplement your sun care regime with oral supplements like Heliocare 360º Capsule. This oral supplement, formulated with Fernblock®+ and other ingredients like prebiotics, cystine, vitamins B3, C & E, helps to lower the risk of hyperpigmentation caused by UV rays and make sure you stay protected against other health risks as well.
How to treat and lighten hyperpigmentation
Common treatments targeted at lightening hyperpigmentation include topical creams and cosmetic procedures.
Retinol is a skincare ingredient particularly revered among skin experts and beauty junkies for its amazing depigmentation abilities. For those who are worried about potential side effects of retinol or other topical treatments, you are recommended to try NEORETIN Serum Booster Fluid, a powerful retinol product containing patented RetinSphere® Technology and 9 other depigmenting active ingredients to target every stage of melanin production. Furthermore, NEORETIN has been proven to be well-tolerated in clinical trials, making it suitable to be used in the long term with no known side effects.
If you are looking to further boost your depigmentation regime, you’ll love our award-winning Heliocare Purewhite Radiance Max 240. Exclusively formulated with Fernblock® and White Tech Complex, Heliocare Purewhite Radiance Max 240 can control all factors involved in the production of pigmentation to effectively tackle hyperpigmentation from the inside out.