One of the things that can really affect one’s selfie-esteem apart from acne is pigmentation. These dull blemishes can really stand out – whether they exist in larger patches or tinier spots, muting the sparkle of an otherwise clear complexion. Some of these pesky stains can really sink in deep, making topical peels and creams an impossible success, others are easier, allowing for easier eradication.
ALL PIGMENTS ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL
Strangely, a lot of people think that all spots are the same (even if they look different). In truth, pigments can be broadly categorized into 1) freckles 2) solar lentigines (sun spots) 3) melasma 4) post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH).
But because freckles can usually be burnt off, people think their spots easily be expelled with once and for all with laser treatments. Our skin’s melanin production gets riled up by several triggers, such as the sun, inflammatory injury such as bug bites and acne, environmental pollution and our own hormones. Depending on the type of trigger, treatments vary. Even then, other factors such as skin type are important considerations when doctors prescribe treatments. Well-intended treatments can ironically ignite a cascade of regrettable pigments so study the options properly before embarking on your pigment extinguishing crusade!
HOW TO LET YOUR SKIN SEE THE LIGHT
What I was trying to say was, going for the same treatment as your best friend did might not lead to desired results, apart from one precaution universally accepted as true – use a good sunscreen. Otherwise, we’ve rounded up some of the best treatments to help clear up the muck on your skin.
Hormonally-fuelled pigments such as melasma and PIH should be treated less aggressively – a series of mild chemical peels, such as Glamour peel and some milder lasers have shown promise in helping scrub these off gradually. At the SW1 Clinic, the conservative pigment laser (picosecond laser) helps break up pigments via a photoacoustic effect rather than use heat (Porcelain Skin Program), and the slightly more intensive microlaser peeling effect with the thulim BB Aquatouch laser has also won the hearts of many SW1-ners with its impressive ability to clear off traces of sun damage within just 1 to 2 sessions.
I sat in for one of those over-the-counter skin analysis sessions once, and the lady showed me the “pigmentary mapping” of my skin – pigments that were hidden beneath and not yet visible. And she proceeded to sell me full-face pigmentation prevention creams as well as spot treatments for the spots visible. Some doctors believe that certain types of spots have a surrounding base not yet visible, so full-face topical treatments such as cysteamine cream (Super White cysteamine cream, available via prescription), a new and promising alternative to spot treatments such as the traditional and more controversial hydroquinone cream are preferred.
More importantly, it is crucial to hunt for a clinic which possesses the correct tools for removing pigment. And always seek opinion from a qualified professional. As victims of these conditions, when dealing with pigmentation, the last thing we want is for them to worsen!