Pigmentation - What Is It?
Our skin, hair and eyes get colour from a pigment called melanin, which is present in varying degrees depending on how much a population has been exposed to the sun historically. Melanin plays a significant role in protecting the skin through blocking UVR (ultraviolet radiation) and visible light from penetrating the skin, and by exhibiting antioxidant effects by scavenging free radicals.
Special cells in the body are responsible for making melanin, and when these cells are damaged through the likes of sun exposure, injury, hormonal changes or certain medications, the production of melanin is affected and visible signs of pigmentation occur.
Pigmentation can be a result of too much melanin which results in darkened skin, age spots and freckles, or a result of too little melanin which would result in the likes of albinism and vitiligo.
Chronic exposure to the sun can cause an increase of melanin, resulting in hyperpigmentation leaving the skin darker in appearance and long lasting dark spots. Although sun exposure is essential for the synthesis of vitamin D, and for the release of necessary neurotransmitters, without the correct protection it can result in a suppressed immune system, premature ageing, DNA damage and a reduction in both collagen and elastin resulting in sagging and toughened skin. It is thought to take up to 7 years for sun damage to become visible, so it’s crucial to look after our skin now as protection for the future.
Pigmentation - What Can We Do?
So, how do we help this? It is vital to support pigmentation from the inside out. Antioxidants have an incredible ability to scavenge and stabilise free radicals to prevent oxidative damage and inflammation. They can work on preexisting cellular damage already caused by free radicals, and reduce the risk of further altered DNA. Antioxidants are important through both diet and skin care routine for ultimate protection and repair.
We have collated the best products to help minimise the risk of pigmentation, and also reduce the appearance of existing pigmentation.
The Organic Pharmacy - Cellular Protection Sunscreen
Since it can take up to 7 years for sun damage to become visible, it’s really important we start protecting our skin now. The Organic Pharmacy Cellular Protection Sunscreen comes in both SPF 30 & 50, for all year protection. Made with the highly effective titanium and zinc oxide, two naturally occurring minerals which have the ability to protect from the sun’s UVA & UVB radiation. Also contains rose hip which is rich in provitamin A for antioxidant protection, and essential fatty acids for hydration. This can be used on babies and children, thanks to the gentle calendula which soothes and nourishes, along with the shea butter for moisture and protection.
The Organic Pharmacy Antioxidant Face Gel & Serum
This is truly the most devine combination ever created for faces. It is necessary to use both products together as they hugely compliment each other and work synergistically together to support the reversal of sun damage and create what appears to be an instant face lift. Packed with antioxidants, vitamins and herbal extracts with some key ingredients being grapefruit, MSM, lemon, ginseng and carrot. Also found in the duo is alpha lipoic acid which has shown to improve UV-induced pigmentation and skin permeability, along with rosehip which is used to reduce severe pigmentation and improve the appearance of scars.
Oskia Renaissance Brightlight Serum
A beautifully formulated serum which is clinically proven to help target hyper-pigmentation, fade the appearance of dark spots, sun damage and uneven skin tone. The combination of bio-available actives and nutrients such as glutathione, MSM, vitamin C, zinc, prebiotics, niacinamide and Swiss cress liposomes, have shown to work synergistically together to reduce hyper-melanin content by 14% in just 28 days. One of the hero ingredients is glutathione which is considered to be the body’s master antioxidant that inhibits the enzymes tyrosinase which stimulates hyper-melanin production. To boost this process and the power of glutathione is the all important MSM, which supports recovery and repair from existing damage. An expert formulation for expert results.
Caudalie Vinoperfect Serum - £46
A more effective, cleaner and more natural version of this cult classic, Caudalie have reformulated their best selling Vinoperfect Serum, and we love it. This serum corrects the appearance of existing dark spots and evens the complexion, making it brighter. It is effective on all types of dark spots (sun, acne, melasma, age) and is suitable for all skin types, even the most sensitive.
Many years ago, Caudalie patented an ingredient found in the grape vines called Viniferine. Viniferine is completely natural and has been shown to be 62 times more effective than vitamin C, in inhibiting tyrosinase, and enzyme which contributes to melanin production.
The Organic Pharmacy RoseHip Serum - £39
A beautiful serum used to treat dry, scaly skin as well as eczema, psoriasis, severely pigmented skin, scarring and stretch marks. Rich in essential vitamins for pigmentation and scarring such as Vitamin A, C & E, along with omega 3, 6, 7 and 9 to enhance hydration and repair the skins barrier. The anti-inflammatory oils from organic frankincense instantly reduces inflammation and brightens the skin within minutes of application.
Astaxanthin, also known as the internal sunscreen. A super antioxidant which is sourced and found naturally in micro-algae, shrimp, krill and salmon, and is what gives flamingos and lobsters their beautiful pink colour. One of the many benefits of astaxanthin is its ability to block UV rays and inhibit the overproduction of melanin. It’s also a very stable antioxidant and doesn’t become pro-oxidant in the body, making it safe and effective. It doesn’t shield or absorb light, so alone it’s not enough for protection, but alongside a good sunscreen this is the perfect choice for minimising the risk of pigmentation and dark spots. It is also known to support collagen production and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
The Beauty Chef Antioxidant Inner Beauty Boost - £29
Bio-fermented elixir to brighten the skin from within and nourish the gut all at the same time. Rich in antioxidants such as green tea which contains EGCG which has the ability to reduce DNA damage in skin cells by promoting repair, and to minimise the appearance of dark spots and blemishes. Contains other antioxidants such as vitamin C and pomegranate extract which inhibits the enzyme responsible for excess melanin production, and supports natural collagen synthesis.
Viridian S.P.F Skin Pro-Factors
An expertly blended supplement containing just 4 powerful antioxidants for skin protection from the inside out - astaxanthin, superoxide dismutase, natural beta carotene and grape seed extract. All the mentioned ingredients are commonly known for their great protection against sun and sun burn, thanks to their individually powerful antioxidant profiles. Astaxanthin is known as the internal sunscreen, superoxide dismuatse prevents free radical damage to the skin and to the rest of the body’s cells, natural beta carotene normalises the appearance of pigmentation and dark spots and grape seed extract has been known for its ability to significantly lighten skin, even out skin tone, enhance brightness and minimise the appearance of dark spots caused by sun damage or hormonal changes.
Our Nutritional Therapy Team can support with all aspects of diet, including how to increase your daily antioxidant intake. Hormonal conditions can also affect pigmentation, as can digestive health. If you need any support in any of these areas please get in touch.
Sarah-Lou is a Nutritional Therapist at Therapy Organics, providing expert qualified advice in one-to-one consultations, and offering advice in the shop.See more Articles by Sarah-Lou
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