It’s common knowledge that Asian skin typically produces more melanin pigments compared to Caucasian skin. But did you know that melanin doesn’t just give our skin its colour? The same pigments also shield skin cells and DNA from ultraviolet (UV) radiation.
So how does hyperpigmentation happen? The biggest culprit is the sun – UV exposure triggers the melanocytes (think of them as melanin factories) in our skin cells.
In young and healthy skin, melanin is produced evenly and gives a uniform skin tone. But over time, as the skin accumulates sun exposure and UV damage, the areas that are more frequently exposed to sunlight tend to accumulate more melanin, with some melanocytes producing more melanin than others. This leads to dark spots, patches, freckles and uneven skin tone.
Types of hyperpigmentation & how to treat it
According to Dr Lynn Chiam, dermatologist at Children & Adult Skin Hair Laser Clinic, there are a few types of hyperpigmentation: melasma, sun spots and freckles.
Melasma is often seen as dark brown or grey patches on the cheeks, nose bridge, forehead and upper lip, and can be triggered by sun exposure, hormonal changes during pregnancy or oral contraceptives. Interesting fact: Melasma is also influenced by your genes. “If you have relatives who have melasma, you are more likely to get melasma as well,” says Dr Chiam.
Sun spots and freckles, on the other hand, often appear as small, round, light brown patches, and are the result of repeated sun exposure. Freckles are usually seen in fair-skinned individuals, and can also be influenced by genetic factors.
When it comes to treatment options for hyperpigmentation, Dr Chiam says these include medicine such as prescription-only creams like hydroquinone and retinoids, which are to be used under doctor supervision, as well as medical procedures like laser therapy for stubborn spots.
These brightening skincare products often work through one or more of these mechanisms: speeding up skin exfoliation, reducing or controlling excess melanin production, or shielding skin from further UV damage.
Brightening ingredients you should have in your skincare
Dr Chiam advises you to look out for these beneficial ingredients in brightening skincare products:
- Titanium dioxide, which reflects light and protects skin from further UV damage
- Niacinamide (also known as vitamin B3), which prevents the transfer of melanin to the upper layers of the skin
- Vitamin C, which blocks the enzyme that causes excess melanin production
- Sea daffodil, which has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that help decrease the production and release of melanin, to reduce the appearance of dark spots
She also adds that with continued use, niacinamide and vitamin C can help fade and reduce the appearance of dark spots for a more even and radiant complexion.
Your healthy, radiance-enhancing skincare routine from Cetaphil
The number one derma skincare brand in Singapore1, Cetaphil has launched a brightening skincare range to help you achieve an even and radiant complexion. Developed with dermatologists and clinically tested for sensitive skin use, the Bright Healthy Radiance range offers four brightening skincare products for a complete skincare routine.
The secret lies in its clinically proven, proprietary Gentle Bright Technology, which contains a blend of skin-brightening ingredients, such as niacinamide and sea daffodil. Together, these active ingredients work to target excess melanin production in skin, while boosting skin clarity and reducing the appearance of dark spots. The result is a luminous and more even complexion in four weeks2.
While conventional brightening skincare products tend to contain harsh exfoliating agents, the Cetaphil Bright Healthy Radiance range is gentle yet effective on even sensitive skin. So, no more worrying about harsh acids or aggressive formulas that brightening skincare products tend to come with.
Each product also boasts a hypoallergenic and fragrance-free formula that is ideal for all skin types, including dry and sensitive skin.
Step #1: Cleanse with Brightness Reveal Creamy Cleanser, $15.90
The gentle cleanser cocoons the skin as it washes away dullness, removing dead skin cells, dust and impurities to leave skin clean and clear without stripping away its natural moisture.
Step #2: Tone with Brightness Refreshing Toner, $19.90
Hydrates and softens skin, leaving it smoother with each use. For best results, apply with a cotton pad. It promises brighter-looking skin in four weeks.
Step #3: Protect and correct with Brightening Day Protection Cream SPF15, $39.90
This moisturiser with SPF15, not only brightens and evens skin tone, but also reduces the appearance of dark spots to reveal a radiant complexion. And it does all this while protecting skin against damaging UV rays, without irritating it.
Step #4: Nourish and correct with Brightening Night Comfort Cream, $39.90
A nourishing cream that works to lighten the appearance of dark spots, revive skin’s clarity, and replenish moisture while you sleep. Wake up to a luminous complexion every morning.
How to help your brightening skincare work better
These easy sun-protection tips from Dr Chiam can help manage your hyperpigmentation woes. And this will, in turn, help your brightening skincare work at its optimum.
- Avoid going under the sun between 10am and 4pm, when the sun’s rays are the strongest.
- Wear long protective clothing and/or a hat, and carry an umbrella.
- Use a broad-spectrum sunblock of at least SPF30 daily, and apply it at least 20 minutes before heading outside. Also, if you sweat a lot, reapply your sunblock every two hours to keep skin well-protected.
Getting even-toned, luminous and radiant skin really isn’t all that difficult. And with some commitment to using the right brightening skincare and protecting your skin, you’ll be on your way to healthier skin.
1 – IQVIA Singapore National Sales Audit for D02 – Emollients & Protectives market, Total SG, MAT Dec 2020
2 – Based on clinical scoring of 41 to 44 subjects for Toner, Day Cream and Night Cream
Her World Readers
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