Now that the weather is turning brighter, are you doing enough to protect yourself against the sun’s harmful rays? A key area of concern for women of colour is the appearance of Hyperpigmentation, a common, often harmless condition where patches of skin, particularly in areas exposed to the sun, become discoloured or darker than the rest of the skin.
We spoke to Black Skin Directory Founder, Dija Ayodele to separate the fact from the fiction when it comes to hyperpigmentation.
The Myth – Hyperpigmentation on darker skin tones cannot be treated
The Truth – It can. The aesthetics industry has seen a vast improvement of in-clinic treatments using laser and chemical peels and topical cosmeceutical ingredients such as vitamin A, Niacinamide and liquorice extract have been clinically proven to effectively tackle hyperpigmentation on skin of colour.
The Myth – You should never apply Hydroquinone to skin of colour
The Truth – Hydroquinone has had a lot of bad press over the years and it’s one of the medications we love to hate, even though it’s one of the few medically approved ingredients for skin lightening and specifically treating hyperpigmentation. In America, it’s the only FDA approved ingredient.
In the UK, Hydroquinone is a prescribed medication and should only be administered by doctors and qualified health professionals in low doses (2-4%) for short periods of time (4-6 weeks) to suppress and control melanin in the skin prior to a treatment or procedure. Contrary to popular belief, HQ doesn’t break down existing pigment in the skin, it mainly stops new melanin from forming by inhibiting tyrosinase – the enzyme responsible for kickstarting melanin production.
In the past and even currently in some parts of the world, hydroquinone is used as a skin bleaching agent in addition to steroids, mercury and caustic agents, this in effect dangerously lightens the skin tone, creates extensive acne, inflammatory pigmentation, patchy skin and infections e.g. scabies.
The Myth – Once hyperpigmentation is treated it won’t come back
The Truth – Wrong. Hyperpigmentation is an increase in melanin production caused by trauma, injury and inflammation so yes, it can return. To avoid a re-occurrence always ensure that you wear an adequate SPF all year round and introduce ingredients such as Vitamin C, Liquorice Extract and Niancinamide into your skincare regime as these help to suppress the over production of melanin whilst brightening the skin.