The Troubles With Hyperpigmentation

Out damn’d spot! Out, I say
 – Shakespeare

One of the most common questions I am asked, as an aesthetician is ‘how can I get rid of this dark mark, age spot, sundamage. It is the dark blemish that seemingly appears overnight and no matter what cream or lotion is used it stubbornly stays, and then invites others to join it.
It is a complex problem that takes time, dedication, patience and finances to resolve – not the answer most people want to hear. If it came up overnight why can’t it be removed that quickly? Of course, the answer is that it did not come up overnight but took months and years to develop. The easiest solution to the issue is to avoid getting the marks in the first place…which is easier said than done, especially as the damage starts when we are children.
Skin is the largest and most abused organ.
If we leave our gardens to dry out so much that it develops cracks we immediately go into damage control, watering and fertilizing it. Yet we allow our skin to dry out so much that it looks like crazy paving, then at best we apply moisturizer, at worst do nothing, accepting that it is to be expected.
Skin is exposed to harmful chemicals, pollution, cut (even by paper), picked at, and burnt by the sun due to our lack of attention. No one deliberately leaves the house in the morning planning to irreparably injure this most important organ, but, we do, when we do not apply sunscreen each and every day.
Melanin is the product in the skin that gives it color, its job is to defend the skin by absorbing and neutralizing the destructive energy caused by both natural and artificial UV light.

Now comes the science bit:

When we expose our body to light a hormone (MSH) is produced. The hormone is delivered and bonds to the color producing cells in the skin, Melanocyte, which looks a little like an octopus with tentacles reaching out and touching other cells in the skin. This triggers the release of an enzyme called TYROSINASE, which in turn stimulates the Melanocyte (color producing cell) to release Melanosomes; think of these as little packets of clear pigment granules. The packets travel along the tentacles of the color producing cell and are delivered to other skin cells; Keratinocytes. Keratinocytes skin cells are constantly multiplying and moving from the base layer to the outer layer of the skin, where they exfoliate off.

When the packets have been delivered the pigment granules are released into the Keratinocyte, turn brown and spread over the DNA (brain) of the cell as a protective layer. It is these brown granules, melanin, that absorb the UV light. Keratinocytes also react to UV light by producing their own substance that also bonds with the Melanocytes and causes more of the packets of pigment granules to be released. The more pigment granules that are delivered to the Keratinocyte skin cells the darker brown that protective layer becomes.

Also! If the DNA (brain) of the color producing cell is harmed by exposure to UV light it can cause the cell to malfunction and produce more packets of pigment granules that can be delivered to other skin cells.

Bottom line is if we were never exposed to UV light we would not produce or need melanin… which is impossible…

But, if like Lady Macbeth you are looking to remove that stubborn spot:

  • limit exposure to UV light


There are two ways that sunscreen works;

Physically, e.g. Micronized Titanium Dioxide, Zinc Oxide; stops the light reaching the skin surface, like an umbrella/reflector.

Chemically, e.g. Octinoxate, Para Aminobenzic Acid, Avobenzone; any UV light that reaches the skin is absorbed and neutralized.

Both stop the cycle that starts with the hormone (MSH) that is produced in the pituitary gland.

  • use topical skincare products

MHS INHIBITOR (stops the hormone from stimulating the color producing cell)

Sepiwhite found in:

Environ Clarifying Lotion.

TYRONSINASE INHIBITOR (stops the enzyme)

Ascorbyltetraisopalmitate (oil soluble version of Vitamin C) found in:

Environ C Boost

Environ AVST range

Environ C Quence range


MELANOSOME transfer INHIBITOR (stops the transfer of the package carrying pigment granules)

Niacinamide (Vitamin B3)

Environ C Quence Toner


ANTIOXIDANTS (Superhero for skin cell protection)

Beta carotene

Tocopherol (Vitamin E)

Ascorbyl Acid (Vitamin C)


Environ Antioxidant defence creme

Environ AVST range

Environ C Quence range

Environ Avance

  • regular professional treatments

Professional treatments include Chemical and Enzyme Peels.


Be aware that there are topical and oral medications that make the skin much more sensitive to UV light

Helen Scott

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