Managing pigmentation in summer


Pic @ victoriamartinmakeup

In summer, pigmentation is a reality for many of us. Despite our best efforts and religious sunscreen application, for some skin types, pigmentation will still form. 

For those that have a tendency to suffer from pigmentation or discolouration including freckling and melasma, a tyrosinase inhibitor or pigment blocker may be needed as part of your daily skincare routine. In basic terms, pigment blockers are used to help prevent the future production of pigment by inhibiting melanin. This product can be applied topically in the morning after you have cleansed the skin, but before sunscreen is applied to the face and neck.

At Skindepth we have a highly effective pigment laser that we use to treat pigmentation. However, to maintain these results, particularly throughout the summer months when there is greater sun exposure, a tyrosinase inhibitor can be an essential skincare product.

A pigment blocker may also be used to help prepare the skin for a treatment where there is a risk of hyperpigmentation forming after strong treatments when there is increased sensitivity to the sun. Treatments include laser, peels, micro-needling and diathermy (to name a few). This sensitivity can lead to dark patches on the treated area. Generally darker skin types are at higher risk of hyperpigmentation and these risks need to be taken into consideration when treatment options are discussed with your Dermal Clinician.

How do Tyrosinase inhibitors work?

Tyrosinase is an enzyme which activates melanin synthesis (melanin being the chromophore or colour in our skin). Hence these products are called tyrosinase inhibitors because they inhibit melanin production. Ingredients found in tyrosinase inhibitors include:

  • Kojic acid
  • Hydoquinone
  • Arbutin
  • Liquorice root extract
  • Niacinamide
  • Oligopeptide-34
  • Ascorbic acid
  • Rumex occidentalis extract

At Skindepth our 2 favourite Tyrosinase inhibitors are Propaira lightening cream and Dr Rudd’s personal favourite, Mela Cream. Both can be purchased at Skindepth (no appointment is necessary).

If you are suffering from pigmentation or discolouration then a skin consultation is a great opportunity to discuss concerns and get a full assessment to find out the best treatment and skincare options. All consultations include a complimentary LED Healite which is safe for all skin types, even the most sensitive skin.

LED Healite treatment for skin pigmentation


What is the melanin pigment?

Melanin is a complex pigment that gives colour to hair, skin, and eyes. There are two types of melanin: eumelanin (associated with dark colours like brown and black) and pheomelanin (associated with light colours like red and yellow). 

A third type of melanin, called neuromelanin, is found throughout the human brain and provides pigment to the structures in this area.

Melanin production begins in large cells, which are called melanocytes found deep in the dermis layer. These cells can be found all over the body and they are responsible for producing melanosomes. These melanosomes are sites of synthesis for both eumelanin and pheomelanin, which is then distributed to other types of cells, such as keratinocytes. 

The levels of melanin are primarily decided by genetics, but there are some other factors that can influence the production of melanin. For example, exposure to UV light, inflammation, hormones, age and skin pigment disorders can all affect melanin levels.

Does melanin make skin dark?

The number of melanocytes in human skin varies widely, but people with dark skin tones have more melanosomes than those with light skin tones. These melanosomes are also larger and more pigmented. 

Interestingly, the distribution of melanosomes also varies based on skin colour. These differences contribute to the wide range of human skin colours.

What does melanin do in the body?

Pigmentation isn't just for show; melanin also provides protection against damage from the sun. 

This important pigment helps to absorb UV light, keeping it from damaging the sensitive DNA in skin cells. 

In addition, melanin scavenges for reactive oxygen species produced by UV light damage, making it an important antioxidant.

What increases melanin in skin?

A number of things can result in increased melanin production, but the primary ones are sun exposure, hormonal changes, age, and skin injuries or inflammation

Out of all of these, sun exposure is by far the most likely cause of hyperpigmentation since it's sunlight that starts the melanin production process to begin with.


What is the best melanin inhibitor/ pigment inhibitor?

The frequency and amount of melanin production is decided by the enzyme tyrosinase. Melanin synthesis occurs within melanosomes in melanocyte cells, with the help of the tyrosinase enzyme, to protect your skin against UV damage. Tyrosinase oxidizes tyrosine, an amino acid, to create melanin. Melanosomes synthesize, store and transport melanin pigment to the upper layers of the skin. 

To reduce hyperpigmentation, or too much colour in one area, we need to target products that will prevent the melanin from moving to the surface of the skin. 

Tyrosinase inhibitors or pigment blockers are a common ingredient in these sorts of products because they stop the chemical reaction that produces melanin in the first place. We love Propaira lightening cream and Mela Cream.

Is kojic acid a melanin inhibitor?

Kojic acid is a popular skin lightening agent used in many skin care products. It is known to penetrate deep within the skin and inhibit tyrosinase activity, which reduces melanin production.

Do pigment inhibitors work?

Pigment blockers work by helping to prevent the future production of pigment by inhibiting melanin. These products can be applied topically in the morning after cleansing the skin, but before sunscreen is applied to the face and neck. Products such as Propaira lightening cream and Mela Cream are both great tyrosinase inhibitors.

A pigment blocker can come in handy if you're worried about developing dark spots on your skin after undergoing certain treatments. These treatments include laser therapy, chemical peels, micro-needling, and diathermy.

After 1 pigmentation treatment and Mela Cream

People with dark skin are especially susceptible to hyperpigmentation. It is important to talk a dermal clinician such as Skindepth dermatology located in Melbourne's St Kilda East about all the risks involved before deciding on a treatment plan so they can provide you with complete holistic skin care, no matter what your skin needs.

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