What are they? How are they similar, how are they different? Most importantly, how do you address them with clinical skincare?

You are on vacation and are doing everything right:

  • you are completely covered from head-to-toe in broad spectrum (hopefully reef-safe) sun protection;
  • you have a hat on, you are donned in SPF rated clothing, you are under a beach umbrella/any form of shade;
  • and yet, you head indoors, pass by a mirror and notice pigment spots! 

December is blisteringly hot here “down-under” and whilst we have been conditioned to blame the sun for all our uneven pigment woes, there is something else to point our finger at. Though UV rays do initiate the melanocyte mechanism (our body’s natural defence method), heat is also a culprit in reminding old pigment to resurface.

Melanin is a protective element in our skin. It is meant to protect our skin functions, our bodies, and our internal organs from UV damage; actual or perceived. Hyperpigmentation means there is an excess (hyper) pigmentation in the skin. An abnormal accumulation of melanin in the skin can be initiated by external (extrinsic) factors like the sun, or internal (intrinsic) factors. Melasma is a form of hyperpigmentation, as are freckles and “sunspots.” 

As the body ages, melanocyte (the vehicles carrying melanin) distribution becomes less diffused, and regulation is less controlled by the body.

Hyperpigmentation from sun exposure

Realising the effect of sun on our skin, we have traded “sun-bathing” for bathing in SPF. Yet why is it that the older we get the more hyperpigmentation shows its true colours? If ultraviolet rays that travel over 93 million miles from the sun to shine on our face was the only way melanin was called into action, the SPF alone would stop the process (if it were only that easy…). The sun also brings heat and because heat can be perceived as inflammation, the skin’s immune and barrier function signal the defence of melanin into action. The intention is to protect from perceived injury. The result is sporadic pigment distribution, or sunspots.

Hyperpigmentation from melasma

Melasma is a skin condition that causes dark patches and spots to surface on the skin, usually on the forehead, cheeks, nose, upper lip and sometimes chin. Sometimes referred to as the “pregnancy mask”, the cause is associated with hormones and mostly afflicts women (great, thanks).

Where sun damage is caused by extrinsic factors (from the outside in), melasma is caused by intrinsic factors (from the inside out), both presentations require sophisticated melanin management. At Blanc Spa we understand the journey of achieving bright and beautiful skin means melanin must be addressed at every turn. For that we use ingredients that suppress and repair the abnormal accumulation of melanin and address factors that initiate the mechanism in the first place (inflammation, microbiome, skin immunity).

The answer you ask?

First up, we implore you to wear a broad-spectrum SPF on the daily. Our favourites include Payot Crème No 2 CC Crème, and Payot Sunny SPF Devine.

Secondly, undertake a course of professional Blanc Spa treatments that both treat inflammation and assist with evening the overall skin tone. Our professional Lira Skin Correction Peels and Healite II LED are a must to kick that pigmentation in the backside and to take strides in your anti-pigmentation game.