Pigmentation Treatments

What is pigmentation?

Pigmentation is characterized by a darkening of an area on the skin caused by the melanocytes’ production of pigment, called melanin. An over production of melanin is called hyper-pigmentation. A lack of pigment in comparison to the surrounding skin colour, is called hypo-pigmentation. Pigmentation challenges are more prevalent in certain ethnicities such as African, Asian, Mediterranean and Latin. Pigmentation can be cosmetically unattractive for many women and men.

What causes pigmentation?

Melanocytes in the lower layer of the epidermis produce melanin (pigment) in response to oxidative stress, like UV radiation from the sun, as a way of protecting the skin’s DNA in the nuclei of the cells in our epidermis. The melanin is then transported via the dendrites which look like tentacles distributing the melanin. The amount of melanocytes we are born with, are determined by our genetics. Very light skin, such as those of Northern European decent, have a low level of melanogenesis taking place, which makes them more prone to DNA damage from the sun but less prone to pigmentation. Darker skin like those of African or Indian decent produce a much higher level of pigment and have a greater degree of natural protection from the sun, but are prone to patches of darkly pigmented or black pigmentation marks on their faces in particular as their skin has tried to protect their skin cells from the suns radiation and heat.

Types of Pigmentation Conditions


  1. Poikiloderma
  2. PIH Post Inflammatory Pigmentation
  3. Freckles
  4. Melasma or Chloasma
  5. Solar Lentigo or age spots or liver spots or senile freckle


Poikiloderma is a skin condition that consists of hypo-pigmentation, hyper-pigmentation, diffused redness (telangiectasia), and skin atrophy (thinning and aging of the skin). The common causes of Poikiloderma, is over exposure to the sun with the possible addition of photo-sensitising ingredients on that area of the skin, for example perfumes or after shave potions.

Post Inflammatory Hyper-pigmentation PIH

Post Inflammatory Hyper-pigmentation is an over production of pigmentation caused by cutaneous inflammation or injury to the skin and more prevalent in darker skin types, like Fitzpatrick Skin types, V and VI


Freckles are clusters of concentrated melanin that present as small brownish spots with irregular borders more common on people with a fair complexion. The formation of freckles are triggered by exposure to sunlight, so freckles tend to look more obvious or darker with sun exposure or in the summer months, and lighter when the skin is hardly exposed to sunlight.

Melasma also known as Chloasma or the mask of pregnancy, presents as dark patches on the skin, particularly with pigmentation on the upper lip, cheeks, around the eyes, on the forehead and jaw line. It mostly affects women during pregnancy, or using contraception or hormone therapy, so it is triggered internally, but exasperated by exposure to radiation from the sun. Men may be prone to Melasma pigmentation patches on their faces.

Sun Spots / Liver Spots / Solar Lentigo / Senile Freckles / Old Age Spots

Sun spots are also known as liver spots, solar lentigens, senile freckles or old age spots are small flat pigmented light to dark brown macules, uniform in colour, with clearly defined edges surrounded by normal appearing skin, caused by exposure to ultra violet radiation from the sun.

Why don’t I tan like I used to?

A tan is a burn. When our skin is young and healthy, the melanin is distributed more evenly and we could even brag of a golden tan. As the skin becomes older and has had repeated damage due to tanning, to the skin’s cells, the melanocytes’ dendrites distribute the pigment more unevenly through the skin and this can be noticeable later, on sun damaged faces and chests, arms and legs or areas that have been over exposed to the sun’s UVA and UVB radiation, resembling a very mottled spotty look.

What triggers pigmentation?

Heat and UVA and UVB radiation from the sun affects the dermis and epidermis of the skin and is the main culprit for causing pigmentation. Those who are exposed to the environments’ oxidative stresses due to recreational or occupational activities need additional protection from the sun. Hormonal changes like pregnancy and the use of hormone therapy can produce specific pigmentation patches on the skin, known as melasma or chloasma. Certain medication can trigger pigmentation, so it is necessary to check that the medication you are taking isn’t contributing to your pigmentation before embarking on treating the pigmentation marks. Women in particular who use contraception should be aware of possible pigmentation formation. A doctor should be consulted prior to making any changes. No skin products containing photo-sensitizing ingredients should be used on people prone to pigmentation during daylight hours. Heat is a huge contributing factor as it too stimulates the production of pigmentation. This can be internal or external heat, like hormonal flushes or working in hot kitchens as an example. Skin irritations cause an inflammatory affect on the skin and produce pigmentation spots. These can range anything from picking pimples or ingrown hairs, acne, wounds, heat rashes, scratching insect bites to skin irritation from vaccinations. The list can be endless.

How to treat pigmentation?

Treatment options for Dark Skin:  

A combination of radio and high frequency current is a safe and effective treatment for the removal of epidermal pigmentation patches or freckles on all skin types including darker skin types, where light therapy treatment options are not viable for these skin types. The treatment is directed at the pigmentation marks or lesions alone and not the surrounding skin.

Treatment options for Light Skin:

BBL / IPL Pigmentation Removal & Skin Resurfacing

IPL is an age corrective treatment. Sun exposed areas on the skin have a very different appearance to areas that are often covered or protected with clothing. Sun exposed areas have a mottled appearance or blotchy pigmented skin. Accompanied with the pigmentation irregularities, the texture of the skin usually ages due to the breakdown of collagen fibers in the dermis. IPL treatments emit visible light at a selected nanometerage that is converted to heat that targets the chromophore, melanin, to destroy it. The pigmentation in the epidermal layer of the skin lifts and gently and non-invasively, with no downtime, flakes off within approximately 4 to 7 days depending on the age and health of the skin. Additional benefit of IPL treatments are the dermal stimulation, triggering the fibroblasts to produce new collagen to create a healthier, fresher sustainable look within just one or two treatments. For younger looking skin on the face, chest, hands, arms and legs, this is a transformative skin rejuvenation treatment. IPL is effective to remove age spots also known as liver spots, senile warts and freckles.

IPL Intense Pulsed Light: Therapy for pigmentation removal and non-invasive skin resurfacing or skin rejuvenation.

Oral Supplementation for younger skin

Supplementation with ingredients like Pycnogenol is very powerful in reducing pigmentation especially hormonal pigmentation. The Pycnogenol on ingestion breaks down into eight highly effective antioxidants. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals and lower the count of damaging enzymes MMP’s in the skin. Pigmentation patches lighten and fade and the skin looks brighter when using this supplement.

Topical Home Care for younger skin

Protection of UVA and UVB radiation from the sun is of vital importance for everyone that exposes themselves to the sun, however those who have the challenges of pigmentation to deal with, most certainly need to protect themselves with a good sun protection cream. In addition to protection, further pigmentation production needs to be inhibited or prevented, with ingredients that halt the multiple pathways of melanin production to block hyper-pigmentation formation. Skin care products must not contain any irritants, or photo-sensitizing ingredients, nothing that will permanently damage the skin making pigmentation irreversible or leaving hypo-pigmented areas, which is a loss of pigment compared to the surrounding skin. Topical skin products for supporting and treating pigmentation conditions should contain skin brightening bio-peptides to reduce darkening of pigmentation and skin calming anti-inflammatory ingredients.

Removal of Epidermal Pigment on Indian Skin