Transformation Tuesday: Dullness & Hyperpigmentation

This amazing client transformation is a great example of just how phenomenal the results can be when you are diligent with your skincare regime, alongside having the right facials and treatments. 

This client came to me six years ago, and today, she still looks younger than when I first met her back then! Her concerns included a dull complexion with discolouration and hyperpigmentation, dehydration, fine lines and a crepe-like texture to the skin. In just a few months, we were able to completely transform her complexion.

So how did we do it? We recommended a skincare regime designed to even the skin texture, targeting the discolouration and hyperpigmentation. It was also designed to really brighten the skin, as well as to plump and hydrate. 

We treated the skin with regular Clinical Brightening facials treatments every 4-6 weeks, followed by a course of Advanced Nano-Fractional Radio Frequency in order to brighten the complexion, lift and contour the skin, strengthen the jawline and to lift the brow in order to open the eyes more. After an initial course of six treatments, this client continues to have regular brightening facials with radiofrequency treatment add-ons.

So what did our client have to say about the transformation? “I first met Kate in 2017 in a last ditch attempt to combat my post-pregnancy pigmentation and lacklustre skin before my wedding,” she explains. “Following an initial extensive consultation, Kate set me on a truly transformative journey involving a combination of brightening facials, radio frequency and a ZO skincare regime, which I follow rigorously to this day. Fast forward 5 years – and after much peeling, skincare re-education and laughter – my skin is better now, at 44, than it was in my twenties! Quite simply, I wouldn’t go anywhere else.  Kate is a skin genius and her knowledge and passion for her art is second to none”.

This client’s skin quality and density of collagen is phenomenal. Transformations like this aren’t just the result of our hard work – it’s also the pay-off you get when you’re totally committed to your skincare regime. This client’s skin now is free from hyperpigmentation and discolouration. The skin is firmer, plumper, tighter and more hydrated. What a result! If you’d like to kickstart your skin care journey with us, get in touch 

Spotlight On: Hyaluronic Acid

Chances are, you’ve probably heard of hyaluronic acid by now. It’s one of the most in demand skincare ingredients found in everything from serums to sheet masks and the result for your skin is a plumper, more hydrated complexion with a dewy, glowy effect. You may have heard about its magical hydrating properties, but hyaluronic acid does so much more than boosting the skin’s moisture levels. Here’s everything you need to know about this all-star ingredient…

What is hyaluronic acid?

Hyaluronic acid is a sugar molecule (or for the scientific term, a ‘glycosaminoglycan’ known as GAG) that is found naturally in our bodies and acts as a humectant, meaning it has the ability to draw and hold water. It can hold up to 1,000 times its own weight in water, which helps to keep our skin hydrated and plump. There are limited studies to prove exactly how much the synthetic versions of hyaluronic acid can hold, although we do know that it is significant. Despite technically being categorised as an acid, it isn’t exfoliating. When used topically in skincare products, such as serums or sheet masks, hyaluronic acid gives your complexion a boost by quickly increasing the skin’s moisture level, thus smoothing the skin’s texture. 

How does it work exactly?

The collagen in our dermis forms the structure of the skin. Hyaluronic acid is bound to collagen on one side and links to water molecules on the other, which is what gives the skin its plumpness. 

It also helps to prevent what we call, ‘transepidermal water loss’ or TEWL. This is the scientific term for the measurement of how much water is evaporated out of the skin. When a product prevents TEWL, that means it’s keeping your skin hydrated by making sure that water doesn’t escape from your skin’s surface. Hyaluronic acid is fantastic, because it slows down the rate at which any water evaporates. Aside from being an extremely effective hydrator, a couple of studies have also found that it’s great for healing wounds, too.

Why is it so important?

Within our skin, we have stem cells called fibroblasts that make collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid. As we age, our fibroblasts slow down and some become dormant, meaning we aren’t able to produce enough collagen to counteract the rate at which it naturally breaks down – the result is dehydration and a loss of volume, elasticity and smoothness. 

Harsh weather, central heating, certain skincare products and underlying skin conditions can cause tiny breaks in the skin’s protective barrier, which allows water to escape. So by applying hyaluronic acid, we are not only keeping our skin hydrated, but also working towards overall optimal skin health. 

The best thing about hyaluronic acid is that it hydrates the skin without disrupting its natural moisturising processes in the way that applying a moisturiser does. At Kate Kerr London, we always recommend that our clients ditch the moisturiser in favour of hydrating ingredients such as hyaluronic acid. Find out why our founder, Kate Kerr, ditched the moisturiser a long time ago and how doing the same can benefit your skin with our recent blog post. 

What are the benefits?

There are SO many benefits to using hyaluronic acid in your skincare regime. Here are just a few:

  • Helps to support the skin through the natural ageing process
  • Prevents premature ageing
  • Minimises fine lines and wrinkles
  • Increases elasticity 
  • Hydrates the skin without disrupting the skin’s natural moisturising processes
  • Combats facial redness
  • Helps wounds to heal
  • Can also be used to treat conditions such as eczema

Who might want to use hyaluronic acid?

Hyaluronic acid is great for all skin types and rarely irritates the skin or triggers conditions such as acne or rosacea. As we age, our bodies produce less of it, so anyone looking to support their skin through the natural ageing process and prevent premature ageing will benefit from integrating it into their regime. It’s also great for anyone who just wants a brighter, dewier complexion.

Are all hyaluronic acids created equal?

Choosing the right hyaluronic acid serum in particular can be tricky. The molecule can sometimes have a molecular weight that is too high, meaning it is too large to effectively deliver hydration to the skin’s layers. According to Harvard Medical School, hyaluronic acid molecules with a higher molecular weight, though best at binding water, can’t penetrate deeply into the skin. When applied topically, they only provide hydration to its surface. While molecules with a smaller molecular weight can penetrate more deeply through the skin’s layers, it’s ideal to look for a product that contains a mix of hyaluronic acid molecules in different weights. 

What’s the best way to integrate hyaluronic acid into your skincare regime?

Hyaluronic acid works well with most other skin actives, making it easy to pair with peels, retinols, vitamins and other acids. The only exception could be combining it with acids containing lower PH levels, such as glycolic acid, because it can degrade the hyaluronic acid, making it ineffective. At Kate Kerr London, we like to use active skincare products that contain hyaluronic acid alongside other supportive ingredients for maximum effectiveness. The result is skin that appears younger and more dewy. 

A great way to integrate hyaluronic acid into your regime is with a serum, but the key is applying it correctly. Hyaluronic acid molecules need water in order to plump the skin – without water on the surface of the skin or from the air, it pulls water from deep inside your skin, causing dehydration. To prevent this, always apply your hyaluronic acid serum to damp, cleansed skin. Then top up with your SPF. 

We also recommend using a retinol to activate the dormant fibroblasts and increase your natural hyaluronic acid production – because our own is always best. Exfoliate regularly to remove cell accumulation on the surface of the skin, which stops your hyaluronic acid penetrating the skin properly. You should also look for active ingredients in your hyaluronic acid that pack a bigger punch such as niacinamide and antioxidants like Vitamin C and E – hyaluronic acid is often formulated with vitamin B5 to further enhance hydration. 

What about hyaluronic acid injectables?

Did you know that hyaluronic acid is the main component in most fillers? The hyaluronic is cross-linked (a process that involves linking the hyaluronic acid molecules together) so that our body doesn’t break it down as quickly as it does with our naturally-produced hyaluronic acid, and can last anywhere from 6-18 months, depending on the area of the face that is injected. 

It comes in varying consistencies, from a very watery substance injected to enhance hydration and activate skin rejuvenation to denser viscosities for building back lost structure in the skin, such as the jawline and cheeks. It’s synthetically made to be almost identical to our naturally-produced hyaluronic acid, which means the body doesn’t see it as a foreign substance and allergic reactions are very rare, unlike the collagen injections of the past. 

If our clients would like fillers, we refer them to one of the best doctors in the world who can subtly rebuild the structure under the skin if needed, whilst we focus on offering a bespoke skincare and treatment plan that will achieve optimum skin health. We believe that fillers should be used to rejuvenate the skin and replace lost volume, rather than giving you a face shape that you never had – the result should be a complexion that looks brighter and reflects light more effectively, as well as looking more rested. 

So who might want to consider fillers? It all comes down to skin structure. Think of the skin on your face as being like a tablecloth; it’s lying over the table, which in this analogy, is your facial muscles, bones and fat pads. As we age, the table becomes compromised and the tablecloth enlarges, which leads to the skin sagging. At Kate Kerr London, we work hard to ensure the table cloth – or the skin – is beautiful, smooth and clear, but we’re unable to rebuild the structure underneath. That’s where a skilled injector comes in. We are always very honest about whether we can help to treat our clients’ skin ageing concerns and we will refer if it is out of our scope. Fillers aren’t for everyone, though – we can give you the best advice either way when you come for a consultation. 

How long does it take to see results?

Once you start using a hyaluronic acid serum as part of an overall skincare regime designed to achieve optimum skin health, you should see a noticeable improvement within 12 weeks.

We strongly recommend using hyaluronic acid to complement a full skin health regime. It’s important to look after the skin and all its processes with specific products within a comprehensive regime – whilst hyaluronic acid is a superstar ingredient, it isn’t the answer to achieving optimum skin health on its own. If you would like advice on how a skincare regime, together with targeted facials and treatments, get in touch to book a consultation and we can provide a tailored plan. If you’re an existing client and would like to know more about the specific ingredients we’re using to treat your skincare concerns, and if hyaluronic acid might be a good addition, get in touch or mention it at your next appointment.

Transformation Tuesday: Back Acne

As the weather starts to heat up, some of you may be experiencing back acne. Here, I wanted to share an amazing transformation involving a client who came to us after experiencing random cystic breakouts on his back and scarring. In just a few months, we were able to completely transform his skin.

So how did we do it? We recommended a skincare regime for the back using products designed to reduce congestion, repair the skin’s barrier and minimise oil production. We treated the skin with regular Advanced Clarifying Back treatments every four weeks, followed by a course of Advanced Nano-Fractional Radio Frequency to target acne scarring.

Our client was thrilled with the results: “I first saw Kate not knowing what I wanted. ‘Better skin,’ I said, and explained all of my symptoms; in particular the breakouts I was experiencing on my back. I expected her to squeeze my pores, slap on a mask or two and send me on my way, but instead, she interviewed me like a doctor, asking all kinds of questions about my lifestyle, skincare habits, etc. I’ve always fancied myself as pretty savvy in the skincare department, but Kate’s approach overturned all of that conventional wisdom.

“She explained how the skin works from the inside-out and how many of my habits were actually bad in the long run. But there was hope, she assured me, and sure enough – a year later – my skin is better than it’s ever been. It looks smooth and young and feels balanced and healed. My new skincare regime is streamlined and direct, and the treatments she has performed have worked amazingly.“

Transformations like this make us so proud to do what we do. If you’d like to kickstart your skin care journey with us, get in touch today.

Spotlight On: Vitamin C

Vitamin C is one of the most potent antioxidants used in the skincare world. It not only helps to protect the skin from free radical damage, caused by environmental aggressors, but also helps to increase protection against sun damage and improves capillary health.

How does it work exactly?

Vitamin C helps to keep the skin healthy by inhibiting what’s called ‘oxidative stress’. To understand the process of oxidation and its effects on the skin, think about what happens when you cut into an apple – it turns brown. Similarly, as we age, the skin’s antioxidant defense system weakens, losing its capacity to fight the oxidative stress caused by free radicals.

Here’s the science-y bit: Free radicals are naturally-occurring, unstable extra electrons produced by everything from UV exposure to diet and stress that seek out other extra electrons from healthy cells, damaging them and creating more free radicals in the process. They cause DNA damage in cells throughout the body, including the skin, leading to inflammation and deterioration within the cells – essentially ‘rusting’ them. These damaged cells can also cause tissue breakdown, leading to other symptoms such as irregular pigmentation and premature ageing.  

Antioxidants like Vitamin C bind to free radicals before they can cause this damage, helping to prevent premature ageing, dullness and inflammation by protecting the cells. You can see this process in action by cutting an apple and rubbing lemon juice on it – the lemon juice, which is high in Vitamin C, helps to preserve the apple, and in the same way it can help to protect your skin too.  

What are the benefits?

Thanks to its incredible antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, Vitamin C is a superstar when it comes to supporting the skin through the natural ageing process and preventing premature ageing. The benefits for your skin are endless, which is why it can be a powerful ingredient in your daily skincare regimen. 

Benefits include:

  • Increases hyaluronic acid and collagen production
  • Lightens hyperpigmentation
  • Strengthens the capillary walls and repairs capillary damage
  • Prevents the signs of sun damage
  • Treats dullness, pigmentation and uneven skin tone by brightening the complexion 
  • Smooths fine lines 
  • Improves skin texture

Who might want to use Vitamin C?

Vitamin C can be used at any age. It can be used to tackle and slow the signs of ageing, protect the skin against daily free radical damage or to address inflammation or hyperpigmentation concerns in younger skins. It’s the ultimate skincare ingredient for lifelong skin health. 

Are all Vitamin C’s created equal?

Due to its chemical makeup, Vitamin C can be an unstable active, which presents several challenges in skincare, such as poor penetration. So, it’s important to look at the overall performance of the product rather than focusing on the benefits of a single ingredient. 

Not all Vitamin C has the same effect. Some are fantastic – others have very little antioxidant benefit. Ascorbic acid is the most biologically-active, and is one that we favour here at Kate Kerr London. 

As an ingredient, ascorbic acid is very unstable and can oxidise when exposed to heat, light and oxygen, so it can be difficult to find a great formulation over the counter. It should be housed in a dark bottle with a pump action to limit oxygen and light exposure. If the product turns brown, it’s time to bin it and invest in a new one. 

Ascorbyl palmitate and tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate are more stable options. Be sure to store yours in a dark spot where there’s no change in temperature – if you want to ensure its stability, it’s best not to keep it in the bathroom.

What’s the best way to integrate Vitamin C into your skincare regime?

Antioxidants paired with SPF are the foundation of our clients’ day time regimes. Vitamin C might be a good option for you, so be sure to discuss this with your clinical facialist. If you’re using a Vitamin C serum, we recommend applying it after cleansing, exfoliation and pads, which delivers a targeted treatment directly into the deeper layers of the skin. However, if you’re using our ZO Vitamin C serum, this needs to be applied as a final step before your SPF.

To get the most of its antioxidant properties, it’s best to apply Vitamin C products in the morning – that way your skin is protected against environmental aggressors during the day. It can be applied morning and night if you don’t use a retinol in the evenings. 

Make sure you don’t use it at the same time as a retinol as the two ingredients can compromise each other’s efficacy. That’s why, at Kate Kerr London, we recommend that our clients use Vitamin C in the morning and a retinol in the evening. 

Vitamin C can be irritating if you have sensitive skin, so we recommend adopting a comprehensive regime first in order to calm the skin and strengthen the skin’s protective barrier before adding it to your regime. If you have sensitive skin, start by applying it every other day initially, then increase to daily use. If you feel it bite, don’t panic, it’s an active ingredient. Vitamin C can’t be stored in the skin, so you need to use it regularly to achieve the benefits. 

Serums have the highest concentration of active ingredients in the skincare category, so you’ll find that a Vitamin C serum is more effective than a cream or a toner that contains Vitamin C. It’s best to use a serum that combines Vitamin C alongside other antioxidant ingredients such as Vitamin A, E, CoQ10, resveratrol and niacinimide, rather than on its own, in order to get a broader antioxidant defense. 

How long does it take to see results?

Once you start using a Vitamin C serum as part of an overall skincare regime designed to achieve optimum skin health, you should see a noticeable improvement within 12 weeks. 

We strongly recommend using Vitamin C to complement a full skin health regime.  It’s important to look after the skin and all its processes with specific products within a comprehensive regime – whilst Vitamin C is a superstar ingredient, it isn’t the answer to achieving optimum skin health on its own. If you would like advice on how a skincare regime, together with targeted facials and treatments, can help you to achieve your skin goals, get in touch to book a consultation and we can provide a tailored plan. If you’re an existing client and would like to know more about the antioxidants we’re using to treat your skincare concerns, and if Vitamin C might be a good addition, get in touch or mention it at your next appointment.

Skin School: What is hyperpigmentation and how can you treat it?

Picture the scene: you’re washing your face one morning when suddenly you notice a new dark mark on your face. Perhaps it’s where you had a spot pop up recently…maybe you spent a long day in the sun at the weekend or perhaps its been hiding in the depths of your skin for years, waiting to reappear. There are lots of factors to consider before you even think about treating dark spots – also known as ‘hyperpigmentation’.

What is hyperpigmentation?

Along with adult acne and rosacea, hyperpigmentation is a common skin complaint among both men and women in the UK and one that we treat every day at Kate Kerr London. 

Hyperpigmentation occurs when a patch of skin produces excess melanin or distributes melanin unevenly. Melanin is a pigment that gives skin its colour and is produced by skin cells called melanocytes. These melanocytes have lots of little fingers that deposit pigment into the surrounding cells to provide a little sun umbrella that protects the skin cells from inflammation, whether that be from trauma or UV exposure. These melanocytes are found in the basal layer (the innermost layer of the epidermis). When they behave erratically due to genetics or because they have become damaged, melanin production is accelerated. This excess melanin is then distributed unevenly into the surrounding cells, which shows up as uneven skin tone and blotchiness, or hyperpigmentation, as those cells reach the skin’s surface. 

In order to successfully treat hyperpigmentation, first we must understand the root cause and the depth of the pigment. We need to not only block the activation of the over-excitable melanocytes, but also ensure that if they are activated, the melanin is distributed evenly around all of the surrounding cells, ensuring a beautiful even colour on the skin’s surface. We also need to try to purge the existing pigment. 

Types of hyperpigmentation

All hyperpigmentation isn’t treated equally; several conditions or factors can alter the production of melanin in your body. Below, find out more about the different types of hyperpigmentation and how they can be treated.

Melasma

Image before and after spot melasma pigmentation skin facial treatment on face asian woman. Problem skincare and health concept.

Melasma causes patches that are brown or grey in color and are often quite large in appearance. Unlike other forms of hyperpigmentation, which appear as random spots or freckles, melasma often (but not always) appears in symmetrical patterns, most commonly down the centre of the face, on the forehead, cheeks, upper lip, nose and chin. It can also appear on other body parts such as the neck and arms. It occurs deep within the skin and the melanocytes can even deposit pigment down into the dermis, making it much more challenging to treat. 

What causes it?

Despite being one of the most common forms of hyperpigmentation, the exact cause of melasma is currently unknown. It is thought to be caused by melanocytes (those pigment-producing cells) that have become sensitised or abnormal. Hormonal changes could have a big role to play as it can often develop during pregnancy, as a result of hormonal therapies or when taking hormonal contraceptives. Burn injuries, IPL (that’s intense pulsed light) and excess sun exposure can also trigger melasma.

How to treat it

Melasma is highly sensitive to sunlight, so can often reoccur after treatment, even with diligent sun protection. There isn’t necessarily a ‘forever fix’ when it comes to treating the condition, but it can be managed if you’re extremely strict when it comes to your skincare regime and are diligent when it comes to sun protection; in fact, keeping the skin tone even can be a long-term commitment. Whilst we can’t change your genetics and the way in which your melanocytes are programmed, we can help to control them by helping to control their activation and ensure they are functioning well when activated. 

When it comes to treating melasma, we recommend a comprehensive skincare regime made up of powerful antioxidants, tyrosinase-inhibiting ingredients (tyrosinase is an enzyme within the melanocytes that catalyses the production of melanin), retinol and SPF. An antioxidant serum use in the morning helps to protect the skin from sun damage, while a retinol stabilises the melanocytes and prevents them from behaving erratically as a result of distributing pigment unevenly. 

Often, we need to refer our clients to a dermatologist to treat melasma, particularly if the melasma is within the skin’s dermis (the deeper layer of the skin) or if we aren’t able to purge all of the existing pigment. This type of hyperpigmentation usually requires treatment with prescription creams such as hydroquinone and tretinoin. When referring our clients to a dermatologist for this kind of treatment, we continue to offer support through the process alongside regular facials. On occasion, it is appropriate to also offer gentle peels. We are very careful not to cause trauma with advanced treatments until the skin is stabilised in order to prevent further pigmentation.

When it comes to effectively managing your symptoms, sun protection is key. Exposing your skin to the sun for even five minutes can cause melasma to reoccur and undo all of your hard work. You’ll need to wear a high factor SPF every day, even if you’re staying indoors and re-apply every two hours when out in the sun. If you’re outside in the sun, be sure to wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses and try to seek shade or avoid the sun during the time of day when it’s strongest (typically between 10am and 4pm).

Sunspots

Sun spots, also called liver spots or solar lentigos, are flat brown spots that sit on the surface of the skin and develop on areas exposed to the sun, such as the face, neck, chest, arms and the back of the hands. They can often look like large freckles and are more likely to appear after the age of 40, though some people develop them earlier. As well as the appearance of localised dark spots, you might also notice that they create a subtle change in the texture of the skin. It’s a good idea to get any changes to your skin checked with a doctor or dermatologist to rule out melanoma.

What causes it?

As the name suggests, sunspots are often caused by exposure to the sun, but can also develop over time, as we age. UV rays stimulate the melanocytes to increase melanin production – the more time we spend exposed to UV light, the more melanin will be released. Essentially, your skin remembers every hour of sun exposure you’ve ever had and the effects are cumulative. This often shows up as hyperpigmentation and premature ageing in our adult yers. 

How to treat it

Unfortunately, the sun damage itself is irreparable, but we can minimise and protect the skin from further deterioration through a targeted skincare regime made of serums containing transexamic acid, niacinamide, retinol and bakuchiol – these help to lighten the pigmentation – alongside Vitamin C and SPF. At Kate Kerr London, we often refer our clients for cryotherapy treatments or medical lasers that are specifically designed to treat solar lentigos. Meanwhile, we can improve the skin texture, diffuse the pigmentation around the lesions and prevent further sunspots with regular bespoke facials and an anti-pigmentation focused skincare regimen. For some clients, IPL and Nano Fractional Radio Frequency can be helpful.

As with melasma, sun protection is key in order to prevent further hyperpigmentation. Be vigilant with your sunscreen application, using a broad spectrum, high factor SPF every day – even if you’re staying indoors – and re-apply every two hours. Follow the usual sun safety advice when you head outside: think wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and seek shade as much as possible between 10am-4pm.

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) is very common, and is often the result of acne, trauma, eczema or a rash. When that inflammation goes away, the skin develops more melanin. Marks can then pop up anywhere on your skin a few days after the injury, and are typically small, localised and a darker brown compared to your normal skin colour.

What causes it?

A result of injury or inflammation to the skin, a common cause of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is acne. Red, angry spots stimulate the melanocytes to produce more melanin, which creates these red or brown stained areas on the skin. A larger blemish results in more melanin being released, while picking at blemishes increases inflammation and therefore pigmentation. These red-pinkish marks are known as post-inflammatory erythema (PIE); a type of skin reaction caused by injured or inflamed blood capillaries.

How to treat it

In order to successfully treat the hyperpigmentation, we have to treat the cause first. Our approach is to encourage pigmentation to fade over time with a brightening skincare regime designed to renew the skin, stabilise the melanocytes and purge existing pigmentation. We also recommend a Brightening or Restoration & Rejuvenation facial once per skin cycle (every 4-6 weeks), combined with a course of Advanced Skin Peels to lighten dark spots and even out skin tone, soften and smooth out the skin’s texture and to improve the appearance of hyperpigmentation and dullness. Any pigmentation will become darker or worse with sun exposure, so as always, sun protection is just as important as correction. Be sure to use a broad-spectrum, high factor SPF every day – even if you’re staying indoors – and re-apply every two hours. The usual sun protection rules apply, and as someone with hyperpigmentation, it’s a good idea to be extra vigilant. Wear a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and try to seek shade when the sun is at its strongest between 10am-4pm. 

What about darker skin tones?

One common misconception is that, because darker skin tones are better protected from the sun due to higher levels of melanin in the skin, sun protection isn’t required. On the contrary, more melanin means the skin is more prone to post-inflammatory pigmentation and hormonal pigmentation and textural changes. Sun exposure makes existing post-inflammatory pigmentation and melasma worse, and can also create hyperpigmentation that didn’t already exist (known as non-specific hyperpigmentation), so using SPF daily and avoiding direct sun post-skin treatments is essential. With darker skin tones, sun damage will often manifest in different ways, such as with enlarged pores or the skin becoming oilier. 

Many women of colour typically notice body hyperpigmentation on their inner thighs, bottom, armpits and neck – high-friction areas that are often subject to inflammation from rubbing and chafing. The underarms are also prone to pigmentation due to hair removal methods like shaving.

How to prevent hyperpigmentation

Aside from wearing SPF, the biggest thing you can do to protect your skin from hyperpigmentation of all kinds is to use an antioxidant serum in the day, and a retinol in the evening, along with a tyrosinase-inhibiting serum applied morning and night. The retinol helps to stabilise the melanocytes, while the antioxidant and tyrosinase-inhibiting serums prevent the melanocytes from being activated, whilst ensuring that any pigment is deposited evenly if they are. 

Wearing a high factor SPF, which provides UVA, UVB and visible light protection every day is also key. With all pigmentation treatment it is incredibly important to be vigilant with application. Months of investment in skincare and treatments can be undone by a small amount of unprotected time in the sun. 

You need to apply your SPF every day, even if it’s cloudy outside and even if you’re staying inside! Don’t think of it as “sunscreen” – it’s a radiation screen, designed to protect you from all forms of light, from UV rays to High Energy Visible (HEV) light. HEV is the light that’s emitted from our laptop and mobile screens – it causes just as much damage to the skin, including pigmentation. And you aren’t safe from UV rays indoors either – if there is daylight in your home, then UVA is bouncing around. 

It’s a good idea to get into the habit of performing your skincare regime first thing in the morning and applying your SPF – then remove it at the end of the day once you’re finished spending time on any devices. If you’re heading outdoors and it’s sunny, wear a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and clothing that helps to block the sunlight. It’s also a good idea to seek shade or avoid the sun between 10am and 4pm. Remember, you also need to re-apply that SPF every two hours when you’re outside. 

If you suffer with post-inflammatory pigmentation as a result of acne, don’t pick at the blemishes as this increases inflammation and hyperpigmentation. Avoid spritzing your perfume or aftershave directly onto the skin as this can actually cause pigmentation on the sides of the neck. 

Finally, never have an advanced treatment that can cause trauma without stabilising and restoring the skin’s health first to prevent post-inflammatory pigmentation. We never recommend Advanced Aesthetic Treatments to treat hyperpigmentation unless we have clients on a skincare regime that is focusing on prevention and control. Lasers, lights and peels will remove the pigmentation, but they won’t treat its cause, so it will keep coming back. A targeted skincare regime will not only improve your hyperpigmentation concerns, but will also give you optimum skin health overall. 

Effectively treating your hyperpigmentation requires commitment and compliance, but at Kate Kerr London, we see very positive results. A study has shown that pigmented skin is often deemed to appear ‘older’ than skin with lines and wrinkles, because our eyes are drawn to the contrast in colour. Evening out skin tone is one of the most rewarding results we see when treating our clients’ skin – the glow that we can achieve for them is phenomenal and they are often blown away by their before and after photos.

Seek out personalised advice

Above all, always seek out personalised advice when you can. Many of the skincare ingredients used to treat hyperpigmentation, when used at the effective concentration, have the potential to irritate the skin, so professional supervision and support is paramount. 

Treating hyperpigmentation is a complicated process – it’s important to get advice via a consultation on what type of pigmentation issues you have. If you try to self-diagnose, you can often cause further problems for your skin. If you would like support with treating your skin, book a consultation and we’ll create a tailored plan.

Transformation Tuesday: Skin Ageing & Hyperpigmentation

This client came to us at Kate Kerr London to tackle concerns around ageing, including fine lines, hyperpigmentation, a loss of elasticity and a dull complexion. We recommended a new skincare regime designed to encourage cell renewal and hydration, as well as prevent congestion.

We also treated the skin with Advanced FutureSkin Facials every 4 weeks to stimulate cell turnover and hydrate the skin. As part of this treatment, we performed a DNA test to target not only what was presenting on the skin, but also how it is genetically programmed to age in the future. This allowed us to improve her current skin health, whilst also preventing what we couldn’t yet see, based on her genetic blueprint. We followed this with a course of Advanced Microneedling treatments and Advanced Skin Peels on the face and neck. 

We were thrilled with the results that we were able to achieve in just a few months. Here’s what our lovely client had to say about it: “In 2011, I visited a dermatologist as I had really sensitive skin, rosacea, hyperpigmentation and signs of skin ageing. I was struggling to find products that would suit my skin. After my consultation with Kate, I was advised to book a series of FutureSkin DNA facials. Kate’s knowledge on skincare is extensive – I trust her implicitly and she has completely transformed my complexion. Since working with Kate on my skin, I’ve never looked back!”

Transformation Tuesday: Acne Scarring

Alongside acne scarring, this client was experiencing congestion in the skin, alongside enlarged pores and a thickened epidermis. We recommended a new skincare regime, together with a bespoke treatment programme, which was designed to repair the skin’s barrier, refine the epidermis and improve the thickness of the dermis, reduce congestion and scarring, as well as improving overall skin luminosity, tone and texture.

We treated the skin with Advanced Clarifying Acne facials every 4-6 weeks to clear congestion and stimulate cell turnover. We then followed this with a course of Advanced Microneedling with Growth Factors treatments to reduce acne scarring, minimise large pores and to provide further rejuvenation. 

The results we managed to achieve in just a few months were extraordinary. Here’s what our lovely client had to say about it: “Natalia and the Kate Kerr team have completely transformed my skin! While I originally came to the clinic for concerns about old acne scarring, they have done so much more to improve the overall quality and health of my skin. I regularly get compliments and have friends ask what I do for my skin. For someone used to feeling insecure about their skin, it is really incredible to feel confident about it. Throughout all of our treatments, Natalia has taken the utmost care and I have complete trust in her. I would highly recommend anyone looking to improve their skin to see the Kate Kerr team.”

My Skincare Journey: “Getting my acne under control completely changed my life”

Sometimes, it can feel like you’ve tried everything and nothing works; no one seems to understand your skin and what it needs. That was certainly the case for Julia, who came to see Kate at Kate Kerr London after battling with acne for years. She tried every over-the-counter product available, saw various dermatologists, took roaccutane medication and had steroid injections in her face, but still she suffered with acne breakouts and twice experienced cystic acne that lasted for nine months. 

Kate recommended a series of Clinical Clarifying facials, which are designed to actively target the four contributing factors that lead to the onset of acne. These are excess sebum, impaired cell renewal, proliferation of acne bacteria and inflammation. Her facial was specifically tailored to her skin’s unique needs and a key step was extraction, removing all of the impurities within the skin that lead to breakout. It combined a sulfur mask to help cleanse the skin and minimise oil production along with blue LED light to help calm inflammation and destroy the acne bacteria that leads to breakouts. We also carried out tailored peels that helped to re-texturise the skin and fade discolouration caused by previous breakouts. 

Fast forward a couple of months and Julia’s skin is even in colour and texture, she has minimal breakouts and a luminous glow. “I noticed improvements to my skin relatively quickly,” says Julia. “It was not long after seeing Kate for the first time and using all the products at home that I noticed I had a good glow to my skin. It took maybe a couple of months before the spots were really starting to get under control and it was then that I started to feel that my skin was a lot more predictable.”

So how does Julia feel about her skin now? “My skin now is the best it’s ever been. I don’t really think about it! I recently got married and was really happy with how I looked on the day. I get the odd breakout hormonally, but they’re very small and very manageable. I get compliments on my skin now, which is something that teenage Julia would have never thought she would get! The change in my skin has impacted my confidence massively. I rarely think about my skin, unless I’m coming in for an appointment or it’s the morning or the evening and I’m washing my face. I just go about with my life day to day…and I think that’s the biggest difference. Not worrying about it every day.”

Transformation Tuesday: Treating hormonal acne and scarring

This client came to us at Kate Kerr London to tackle concerns around hormonal acne, chronic inflammation and scarring. We recommended a new skincare regime alongside a bespoke treatment programme, which was designed to repair the skin’s barrier, minimise inflammation, accelerate skin cell turnover and eliminate dead skin cell build up in order to reduce the frequency of breakouts.

We treated the skin with Advanced Clarifying Acne Facials and Advanced Brightening Facials every four weeks to clear congestion and stimulate cell turnover. We then followed this with a course of Advanced Microneedling treatments to reduce acne scarring and to provide further rejuvenation.

The results we achieved in just a few months were exceptional. Here’s what our lovely client had to say about it: “In all honesty, before I came to Kate Kerr, I was on my last straw with my skin. Nothing seemed to work and no one seemed to understand it. Then I met Natalia and I know it seems ‘cliche’, but she changed my life forever. She really knows her stuff; she explained exactly what was going on and what needed to be done about it. Since then, my skin has really changed. I trust whatever Natalia suggests because I know it will work and I’m just so, so grateful that I found her!”

Why I stopped using moisturiser on my face

One of the biggest personal skin issues that I’ve been on a quest to improve since I was a teenager is skin clarity. I have always been prone to breakouts and I have to work hard to keep my skin clear. 

I’ve learned a lot along the way, but the biggest game-changer for me has been to ditch the moisturiser. I always used to moisturise thinking I had combination skin, fluctuating between dry and oily – then I realised I was actually upsetting the balance by moisturising. As soon as I stopped using products with moisturising ingredients and stuck to hydrators instead (serums containing active ingredients such as glycerine, water, urea and hyaluronic acid), my skin became more radiant, plump and glowing. 

So what’s the problem with moisturisers?

It has been ingrained in us from a young age to cleanse, tone and moisturise. We think all skin types need this, but in fact our skin is capable of maintaining its own hydration levels. You only need to look at a child’s skin to see this in action, they don’t moisturise and their skin is in optimal condition.

By using a moisturiser, our skin’s surface sends a signal down to its water reservoirs telling it that there is plenty of moisture and to halt production.  This makes the skin sluggish and lacking in moisture, so we reach for more moisturiser, thus exacerbating the problem and reaching for a richer moisturiser and often balms and oils.

It is important to wake up your skin’s natural moisturising mechanisms as this will have a knock on effect and stimulate other processes within the skin- balancing oil production, brightening the complexion and slowing the rate of skin ageing. You need to break that perpetual cycle of reaching for a moisturiser when your skin feels tight, often reaching for a richer and richer moisturiser as time goes on. Once you stop moisturising, this cycle is broken and the skin’s ability to moisturise itself increases over a period of 6-12 weeks.  Don’t let that time frame put you off; I normally see client’s skin turn a corner at around 2-3 weeks.

Skipping the moisturiser can also help to support the skin through the natural ageing process as they inhibit the production of Glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), one of our skin’s natural moisturisers. GAGs are important for the production of collagen and the cushioning around it, keeping the skin plump and firm.

Moisturising prevents the skin’s natural exfoliation by smoothing the skin cells and stopping them from sloughing off.  So by stopping moisturising, this actually stimulates cell turnover and encourages natural desquamation (that’s the shedding of the outer layers of the skin). This improves skin function and exposes the tightly packed plump fresh cells to effectively reflect light and leave the skin glowing.

Another peril of moisturisers is that when the skin becomes dehydrated, it often over-produces oil. Then, because the skin is sluggish and there is a build up of dead skin cells, it prevents the flow of this increased oil production leading to blackheads, whiteheads and possibly even acne. Waking up the skin’s natural moisturising processes helps to balance oil production, which prevents skin congestion and acne. 

What if your skin really is dry?

Only ‘true dry skin’ is in need of moisture supplementation, which accounts for just 10-15% of the population. This will either be people born with this skin type who are likely to suffer from eczema or dermatitis, or women post-menopause. 

The symptoms for dry and dehydrated skin are very similar; however the cause is different. Dehydrated skin is lacking in water, whilst dry skin is lacking in lipids. While both can result in a feeling of tightness and flaking, those with truly dry skin will have been born with it and will be affected from head to toe. They are unlikely to have ever experienced breakouts, or an oily T-Zone, and tend to have very small, possibly invisible pores. 

Dehydrated skin needs hydration and this shouldn’t be confused with moisturisation. You need to look for products that draw or put water back into the skin, such as hyaluronic acid, glycerin, urea or light, water-based products. These formulas will provide the hydration needed without interfering with the skin’s natural moisturising  processes.  

So how do I go about weaning off the moisturiser?

I believe in going cold turkey, but to make the process easier, I encourage the use of specific serums. By going cold turkey, you will get a much quicker result. Your skin will feel a little tight and dry for a couple of weeks, but it will feel the panic and start filling up its water reservoirs and  hydration will continue to improve for up to two skin cycles (12 weeks). After this point, you will see and feel a visible difference. 

If you are unsure if you have a ‘true’ dry skin there is no harm in attempting to wake up the natural moisturising processes by stopping the use of moisturiser. If after 12 weeks your skin is still very dry, then you know you are more likely to have a true dry skin type.

Remember that not using a moisturiser does not mean that you won’t be using any products on your skin; you will be using plenty of active serums that help prevent and correct skin conditions and support the skin through the natural ageing process – look for those that contain ingredients such as urea, low to medium levels of glycerine and hyaluronic acid, along with the targeted active ingredients. . 

A retinol serum is also very important as it helps to stimulate these skin processes to wake up more quickly. Retinol, a Vitamin A derivative, helps to stimulate a large percentage of the different cells within the skin to behave as fresher, healthier and younger versions of themselves. This not only improves collagen and hyaluronic acid production, but also speeds up cell turnover to improve skin function, hydration and to smooth and brighten.

You need to look at all the steps within your skincare and makeup regime and question whether they are providing moisture; stay away from balm and oil cleansers and don’t forget a tinted moisturiser also counts, face masks too although clay masks are ok.