Lightening Skin Pigmentation

Tips for Lightening Pigmentation?

It is never fun getting unwanted skin pigmentation, especially when it is so hard to treat and get rid of. If you are living in Southern California, as I am, it is so important to use a good sunblock all year long, even on the cloudy days.

Sometimes the pigmentation, especially from the sun, will not show up until 10,20 or 30 years later. Then you will regret that you didn’t use a good sunblock, trust me on tis one..

Pigmentation can come from the sun, which is usually the obvious “threat” to our even looking, collagen filled skin with no wrinkles. Aging in itself can give you dark spots and you can also get pigmentation from trauma of the skin and scars, like acne scars. If you battling acne, please try to not pick on the outbreak as that is who you get scars and pigmentation in the scars.

How Do You Remove Pigmentation From Your Skin

To see a skin care specialist for cosmetic treatments like micro needling, nano needling (less invasive then regular micro needling), IPL/PhotoFacials and Laser Genesis will always give you a big advantage for fading these unwanted pigment. If you are the right skin type, you can also get a Fractional CO2 treatment, the “mother” of all skin treatments.

One thing that you can do at home is using lightning products. But what should you look for in a lighting or a brightening cream and what ingredients will help you? That is what I will clear out for you today. Here we go..

So, bleaching products fade areas of unwanted pigmentation by disturbing the production and distribution of melanin in the skin by targeting overactive melanocytes. Melanin gives the color to your skin and melanocytes are the pigment producing cells.

There are a variety of ways to accomplish this and studies have shown that the best results occur when using a combination of two or more of these ingredients in a cream.

Tyrosinase Inhibitors

So what is Tyrosinase? It is pronounced (tai-raa-shu-neiz)  Try to say that fast 10 times..
This is a copper enzyme that stimulates melanin production in the melanocyte. Most whitening agents fall under this category, as they interfere with the enzyme’s function thereby reducing pigment production in the melanocyte. Let’s go over these melanin inhibitors and see if there is some that you recognize.

Hydroquinone (HQ)
Hydroquinone is probably the most common skin lightener and has been widely used for skin lightening for 50 years. It is the only FDA-approved product for skin “bleaching” on the market, and a prescription is required to obtain products with a concentration above 2%. HQ is one of the most studied bleaching agents available, and its effectiveness is solidly supported though scientific studies.

If you have very sensitive skin, this product can be irritating and it have to be used correctly. In some cases, if used incorrectly or used to long and too much, HQ can make the skin worse and cause the pigmentation to darken, particularly in very dark skin types. Long term use of high concentrations of HQ, can lead to the development of a permanent condition known as exogenous ochronosis. So please listen to your skin care specialist how to use this product in conjunction with your professional treatments.

When starting to use HQ, you will start gradually every 3rd night for 10-14 days, to build up tolerance, and then only every other night if your skin can tolerate it. If you are getting sensitive and red from the product, go back to every 3rd night. When using hydroquinone, it is imperative to stay out of the sun as much as possible for the treatment to work and wearing a full-spectrum sunblock 40+ every day is mandatory. Exposure to sun deteriorates the HQ and it will be ineffective.

Kojic Acid
Kojic Acid (KA) is a by-product from rice fermentation, discovered in Japan, were almost all good skin care comes from J. KA is the second most-common lightening or bleaching agent and it is a more natural and gentle alternative, compared to the stronger effects of the HQ. Kojic Acid penetrates the upper skin layers and inhibits the production of the epidermal melanin.

Arbutin  (also known as Alpha Arbutin, Bearberry Extract or Uva Ursi Extract)
Arbutin (A) is a botanical, delivered from the bearberry plant (also known as uva ursi plant). Arbutin is a cousin to HQ, but compared to HQ, Arbutin has been shown to be much safer, yet a very effective alternative to HQ. Arbutin is also very effective for melasma.

Azelaic Acid
Azelaic Acid (AZA) is a natural skin lightener found in wheat, rye and barley. AZA is most effective in concentrations of 20%. AZA in combination with a tretinoin (Retin-A) or AHA’s the results will be greater than using it by itself. Azelaic Acid is also antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, so it is effective in the treatment of rosacea and acne as well as pigmentation and melasma.

Mulberry Extract, Niacinamide, Soybean Trypsin Inhibitor
Mulberry Extract is derived from the root bark of the mulberry tree. Studies have shown that it effectively reduce the tyrosinase activity at much lower concentrations than either HQ or KA.
Niacinamide is a skin-bleaching ingredient that lighten unwanted pigmentation by interfering with the transfer of melanosomes from the melanocyte to the keratinocytes.
Soybean Trypsin Inhibitor (STI) is a depigmenting agent from soybeans STI has been shown to prevent UVB-induced pigmentation.

Other Skin Lightening Agents

These skin turnover acceleration compounds lighten pigmentation by increasing the cell turnover, speeding up the removal of pigmented keratinocytes (skin cells).

The effectiveness of theses agent are enhanced the most when combined with bleaching agents (see above ingredients) that reduces active melanin production ensuring that the old cells are not replaced with newly hyperpigmented cells.

Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA’s)
Alpha hydroxy acids are fruit and food derived acids that increase the exfoliation by loosening the bonds that hold together the keratinocytes (skin cells), allowing them to flake off the skin more easy.

There are several AHA’s, the best known are Lactic Acid (from milk and dairy), Glycolic Acid (from sugar), Mandelic Acid (from bitter almond), Citric Acid (from citrus fruit), Malic Acid (from apples) and Tartaric Acid (from grapes).

Mandelic Acid
Let’s look a little closer on this AHA. Mandelic Acid stands out as being superior in the treatment of hyperpigmentation, due to the non-irritating properties. The most remarkable feature of Mandelic acid is its effectiveness in fading dermal melasma, a condition that typical bleaching treatments (HQ, KA, A, AZA etc) have difficulty treating without irritation.

Retinol
Vitamin A derivatives, including Tretinoin (Retin-A), Retinol and Retinaldehyde trigger cell division in the ski, producing a more rapid cell turnover and exfoliation.

As an added bonus, retinols encourage collagen production and thicken the dermis (in a good way), thereby reducing the appearance and number of wrinkles. Retinols can be irritating, so ask your skin care specialist how to use them, and for the lowest strength and work your way up to higher concentrations.

How to Use Skin Lightening Products?

So now when we have gone over these skin lighteners, or skin bleaching ingredients, how should you use them? Lightning creams or bleaching products differ in recommended applications, but a few basic guide lines apply:

ALWAYS wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen/sunblock. The sun is responsible for contributing to pigmentation problems. If you would like to solve hyperpigmentation, then you MUST avoid contributing factors, particularly exposure to the sun.

Keep the routine simple. The fewer products you use, the less chance there is of irritation. Many bleaching products are aggressive, and it can be difficult to combine these lightning products with other skin care treatments without causing irritation. There are a few products that can enhance a bleaching creams performance, including Vitamin C or pure ascorbic acid, tretinoin (vitamin A) and AHA’s. See our Triple Lightning Creams

If melasma is being treated, it is vital to keep using the product(s) until your skin care specialist or doctor tells you to stop. Even if melasma has faded to the point where it is no longer noticeable, it is still there. The only way to tell if the melasma is completely gone, is with a woods lamp at your skin care specialists office. Melasma is VERY hard to treat and can easily reappear.

Remember pigmentation issues do not fade overnight. You will have to be patient and for even better results, you will have to do professional treatments like micro needling, IPL and Laser Genesis in conjunction with using your lightning cream. You have to be consistent and using a great sunblock and stay out of the sun is mandatory. You will have to help us to help you with that. Ask us for a treatment plan and let us help you get even looking skin again.

Whatever your skin concerns are, we at The Laser Image Company will help create a treatment plan to get your skin looking its best!

The Laser Image Company

About The Laser Image Company: The clinic was a collaboration of Dr. Lad Rubaum an ENT, Facial Plastic Surgeon, and John Santoliquido, a laser specialist and trainer, with the intention to educate patients on all the latest non-invasive cosmetic treatments available. We specialize in advanced treatments with Botox and can create amazing transformations with dermal fillers like Juvederm, Voluma, and Restylane. Our state of the art lasers can treat any skin color. We offer laser Skin tightening, Laser Hair & Vein Removal , IPL, Photofacial, Genesis for rosacea and collagen stimulation, Exilis for fat melting and Fractional laser for acne scars, wrinkles, sun damage and stretch marks. The staff was handpicked by for their extensive knowledge and expertise in the specific treatments they perform. Whether it is a laser to tighten the skin or a filler plump the lips, Laser Image Company will have you covered.

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