Hyper – more than normal, extremely active
Pigmentation – the body’s natural production of melanin, coloring with pigment
It is important to mention that hyper-pigmentation doesn’t damage the skin. It is of cosmetic concern as we believe it makes us look older and imperfect – but it does not harm the skin.
As we age, the body’s own natural supply of antioxidants diminishes. This is important because antioxidants are the body’s first line of defense against stress causing free radicals. This stress can come from mental and emotional situations, hormonal imbalance, pH and sugar imbalance, an overabundance of toxins and the SUN.
Melanin, a brownish colored protein, is produced by our bodies as a second defense when there is a lack of antioxidants present. If our natural supply of antioxidants is either not being supplemented properly or being overworked due to lots of free radical production, melanin will step in help out.
Hyper pigmentation is usually linked directly to sun overexposure, and is also called sun damage or “sun spots”, but there are many other circumstances that lead to hyper-pigmentation. Applying daily sunscreen is not going to get you the result you want, and it won’t prevent hyper-pigmentation completely.
When we are younger, and the melanin is no longer needed, our bodies will dispose of it via the lymphatic system. However, as we age… (You know what’s coming) the lymphatic system slows and can become static, leaving melanin in the skin. Again, excess melanin (just like excess fat) is not considered dangerous to the skin and body…so it is not top priority to eliminate this excess.
Our skin is very resilient if given the right amount of support and the least amount of stress.
So what can we do to rid our skin of hyper-pigmentation and prevent the reoccurrence?
- Supplement internally and topically with naturally sourced antioxidants
- Stimulate the lymphatic system with yoga, massage, hot and cold treatments (like facials and sauna / cold shower), jump on a trampoline for 10 minutes per day
- Gently exfoliate the outer most layers of skin (without using harsh ingredients that will cause more inflammation and melanin to be produced)
- Check your diet to make sure you are limiting (or eliminating) sugary and processed foods. Eat foods that calm inflammation and help your body stay balanced, like fruits, greens, veggies and fish
- Limit your stress – take up yoga, sweat to release endorphins, journal, limit caffeine and get some sleep
- Use topical treatments that inhibit the production of melanin while supplying antioxidant support: like alpha lipoic acid, DMAE, Vitamins A, C and E, polyphenols, MSM (sulfur), or paper mulberry extract
- Choose sun block over sunscreen (sun block doesn’t allow the sun’s rays to enter the skin and is a safer way to limit sun overexposure; sunscreen allows the rays to enter the skin, then chemically alters them) try SPF 15-30 only and look for ingredients like titanium dioxide and zinc (crushed minerals are great sun block for the face!)
NOTE: Pregnancy can cause hyper-pigmentation due to a rush of extra hormones. But don’t worry mama! Maintain a healthy, anti-inflammatory diet and after your baby is born, start up with topical treatments and lymphatic stimulation – the pigment will go away.