How To Get Rid Of Hyperpigmentation, Age Spots, Melasma, Post-Acne Discolouration

So it's the end of the summer, time to assess what the too much sun, chlorinated water and humidity (or lack of it) did to our skin. In my case it's about checking the hyperpigmentation which gets more intense during the summer months. My personal theory is that the years spent in south-east Asia without proper sun protection have damaged my skin, and this damage "rises up to the surface" in the summer months.
I remember my mom, who would sunbathe for years without repercussions, suddenly become thickly covered with brown spots after a single day in the sun. Like a ladybird. They literally popped up over the course of a few hours. S o my theory is that the sun after a certain amount of sun damage it simply becomes visible to the naked eye. Before that you can see it if you shine a UV lamp on it, it's pretty scary.

How to use sunscreen properly:

I can't say how often I have seen people using sunscreen completely wrong. Here are some guidelines:

* Apply enough, pat on a nice layer. Don't rub it in, for all that is holy. Otherwise you're getting just a fraction of the SPF advertised on the bottle.
* At least SPF 30. No, mineral make-up is not enough.
* Use it every day, UVA rays can go through clouds.
* Zinc oxide is the only ingredient that provides full-spectrum protection.
* Don't rub it off. Apply make-up carefully, don't touch your face.
* If you are not using a purely physical sunscreen, you need to reapply every two hours.
* If you are taking medication or birth control that can make the skin photosensitive, you need to be extra vigilant with sun protection. (More about this in the next post!)
* Sunscreen has to be water-resistant if you are sweating even just a little bit. This one is my favourite.
* Be mindful of spots where the sunscreen wears out or is rubbed off during the day. In my case it's where the bottom of my sunglasses frames rests on the cheeks, the part where the hat touches my forehead, and the nose... can anyone tell my why products don't stay on the nose?

Cosmetic Ingredients that helps against hyperpigmentation:

Vitamin C: Ascorbic Acid,
Glycyrrhetinic Acid und Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract

Rose / rosehip oil
Azelaic Acid
Morus Alba (Mulberry) Root Extract and Arctostaphylos Uva Ursi Leaf (Bearberry) Extract
Alpha Arbutin
Zingiber Officinale (Ginger) extract
Glycyrrhetinic Acid and Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract  
Kojic Acid or Kojic Dipalmitate  (can sensitize the skin)
Aloe Vera
AHAs, especially Malic Acid (only in the winter, sunscreen mandatory, except for mandaleic acid)

I purposely left out hydroquinine, arbutin and a couple of other ingredients that are banned in the EU, because of studies about lack of long-term safety. Also don't use lemon juice, it makes the skin photosensitive!

Some Product Recommendations

 I recommend looking for products for hyperpigmentation as well as those that "brighten" the complexion and then checking whether one of the above substances are near the top of the ingredient list (ingredients are sorted by amount).

You might want to try different things because the ingredients work in several different ways. Some block inhibit tyrosinase (the enzyme needed to make melanin), others help to breakdown melanosomes (melanin pigment granules) in the cells that produce melanin. Others (AHAs, PHAs, Glutonactone) helps remove the damaged top layer, these should be used in the late autumn and winter.

* Right now I am using the Balea Serum Konzentrat gegen Pigmentflecken from DM which has Niacinamide as the second ingredient.
* Koije-San Soap or Wardi Shan soap is surprisingly effective on pigmented areas.
* Vit C -- I've found a lot of great products in my local TKMaxx (TJ Maxx in some countries). The higher the 5 of the vitamin, the better.
* Paula's Choice has the Resist Anti-Aging Brightening Essence well as several products with AHAs and BHAs.
In the next post I'll talk about what causes and triggers hyperpigmentation.

Photo credit: on Unsplash

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