What is pigmentation?

We are all aware that our perceived age is dependent on features such as fine lines and wrinkles, but what isn’t realised is that skin with a high colour contrast also plays a huge factor in how old people deem us to be.  When we are looking at another’s face, our eye is automatically drawn to the areas of uneven shapes and pigmentation and the perception of skin age and attractiveness is dependent on these features.

Human skin colour ranges from the darkest brown to the lightest pinkish or white hues.  Skin pigmentation has evolved to primarily regulate the amount of UV radiation penetrating the skin and therefore controlling its damaging effects on the body. The colour of our hair and skin is predominantly due to the amount of brown melanin pigment produced by our melanocyte cells.  The amount of melanin present is determined by our natural skin colour (white, brown or black) and by photo-type, which is the skin’s response to UV exposure, or tanning.

Hyperpigmentation and Hypopigmentation

You will hear a lot about ‘hyperpigmentation’ and ‘hypopigmentation’ when you ask your doctor or practitioner about pigmentation. An increase in melanin (hyperpigmentation) can be caused by an increased number of melanocytes (pigment cells) or from increased production of the melanin pigment. The opposite of this (hypopigmentation) is caused by a decrease in melanin. Melanin’s job is to protect the body from damaging ultraviolet light, which is why if you suffer with hypopigmentation conditions, such as albinism, you will always be advised to take extra care to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays.

What causes pigmentation?

Do you wonder what might cause your pigmentation? The sun, genetics, medication and skin ageing are the main factors that influence skin pigmentation. These factors can cause melanin to distribute unevenly in the skin and accumulate at the surface of the epidermis, causing an uneven, blotchy, ’freckle like’ appearance. Unsightly dark spots or a diffused pigmentation form on the surface of the skin, most commonly on face, neck, décolletage and the back of the hands.

How can Kate Kerr London treat my hyper-pigmentation?

hyper pigmentation london facialWhen you come for your first consultation with Kate, she will explain how every case of hyper-pigmentation must be treated individually as no two people (or condition) are the same.

Before Kate can determine and recommend the best treatment regime for you, there are a number of different factors that need to be taken into account. Choosing to come and see a professional like Kate is always advised if you want to get your pigmentation under control and keep it from reappearing.

Try Kate’s Advanced Clinical Pigmentation Facial

If you suffer with pigmentation and are keen to get it under control, Kate’s Advanced Clinical Pigmentation Facial could be the perfect treatment for you. This facial is a customisable brightening treatment designed to help improve photo damaged skin, melasma – the ‘mask of pregnancy’ and post inflammatory pigmentation caused by acne lesions. This clinical facial combines an advanced skin peel, vitamin C serum and other antioxidant and lightening ingredients to reduce melanin production and help break down existing pigment.  Not only will this treatment improve the appearance of your pigmentation, help fight free radical damage and brighten your complexion, but it also helps stimulate collagen production to help tighten your skin and reduce fine lines and wrinkles.

If your pigmentation is proving stubborn or Kate feels it necessary, a referral will be made to an appropriate skin specialist using her extensive network of professional contacts. At Kate Kerr London, emphasis is placed not only on your treatment regime and skincare but on helping pigmentation sufferers to understand their condition and answering any questions you may have.

NB Prior to a skin peel, the skin will need to be prepared with certain products for a minimum of two weeks to ensure optimum and predictable results are achieved through the peeling process.


The Benefits of the Advanced Clinical Pigmentation Facial

• Improves the appearance of hyper pigmentation and dullness by exfoliating surface skin cells
• Helps lighten brown spots and even out skin tone
• Decreases the frequency of acne breakouts and fades the appearance of post inflammatory pigmentation
• Stimulates collagen production to reduce signs of photo-ageing, including fine lines and wrinkles
• Softens and smooths the skin’s texture
• Increases radiance

Types of pigmentation 

  • Lenitgo:  also known as ‘age spots’ are due mainly to the intrinsic ageing of the skin.
  • Solar Lentigo:  is caused by considerable, regular sun exposure.
  • Melasma: is pigmentation concentrated across the cheeks and nose and is generally due to hormone imbalances and can be caused by medication or sun exposure during pregnancy.  This is known as the ‘mask of pregnancy’.
  • Ephiledes or ‘freckles’:  are clusters of concentrated melanin.  Although freckles are genetic they are triggered by exposure to sunlight and are sometimes known as ‘Liver Spots’.
  • Post-inflammatory pigmentation occurs following acne and is due to excess melanin caused by inflammation.

One word: Inflammation!  Any one thing that stimulates an inflammatory response in the skin can result in hyper-pigmentation.  Genetics, sun exposure, acne, medication  and hormones are the most common. Exposure to the sun is the number one cause of pigmentation and as we all know  if this inflammatory response is severe, this results in a sunburn.  However, even very brief exposure to UV light can invoke this response.  Simply walking outside to the letterbox can cause very subtle inflammatory processes to be initiated in your skin.  This inflammation from continued exposure smoulders along undetected.  

Hormone like substances are activated when the sun hits the skin.  These hormones trigger a large number of responses in the skin that lead to increased redness, swelling, pain, irritation and an activation of melanocytes leading to hyperpigmentation.  If the skin is continually exposed to UV radiation over a number of years, the constant production of these inflammatory hormones ultimately results in a permanent activation of melanocytes and therefore ‘blotchy’ hyper pigmented skin.

The main factors that influence skin pigmentation:

  • Sun exposure
  • Genetics
  • Natural skin ageing
  • Hormonal fluctuations eg, pregnancy
  • Acne related skin trauma
  • Medication (topical and oral antibiotics)
  • Various forms of eczema and dermatitis
  • Burns: temperature and chemical
  • Fragrance, soaps, deodorants
  • Hair removal (creams, waxing, tweezing)
  • Fabric dyes