In addition to lines and wrinkles, uneven skin tone, dark spots, and discoloration can add years to your complexion. Studies have shown that hyperpigmentation can significantly contribute to the overall appearance of skin aging, increasing your perceived age by as much as 10 years. But discoloration doesn’t have to be a fact of life.
If you want to keep your skin clear of discoloration, STAY OUT OF THE SUN!
Our skin tone is determined by the amount of melanin contained in the epidermis. With UV exposure, cells called melanocytes are stimulated to create additional melanin, resulting in a tan. As we age and accumulate repeated exposure to UV radiation, melanocytes become damaged and permanently switched on to overproduce melanin. This results in dark spots – called age spots, sun spots, and formerly liver spots – or solar lentigines, which are benign flat brown spots that usually appear on the face, chest, and the backs of the hands that get the most sun exposure.
Your first line of defense to prevent dark spots from forming is sun avoidance. Wear protective clothing, seek the shade during peak hours, and always, always, always wear broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB rays outside. If you protect your skin from birth, you could actually avoid developing spots.
UV exposure is cumulative and sometimes its effects don’t show up until we are well into our 50s or 60s. In fact, 90% of fair skinned people over the age of 60 will develop dark spots from the sun.
For years, the treatment of dark spots has been comprised of chemical peels, microdermabrasion, and laser resurfacing. Removing the outermost layers of the skin through exfoliation helps improve skin texture and tone. For more dramatic results, the skin should be treated topically before any procedure is performed. In some cases, topical treatments can adequately reverse the problem without the need for more invasive procedures.
Hydroquinone has long been considered the gold standard for reversing pigmentation. It works by disrupting the function of melanocytes, therefore prohibiting the production of melanin. Products sold over-the-counter can only contain up to 2% hydroquinone, while physician dispensed treatments are usually more potent.
To keep skin bright and even toned, Dr. Zein Obagi developed 3 key products designed to reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation.
- Melamix™ Skin Lightener & Blending Crème with 4% hydroquinone gradually bleaches discoloration by inhibiting melanin production.
- Melamin™ Skin Bleaching & Correcting Crème with 4% hydroquinone, works in a similar manner to reduce hyperpigmentation.
- Brightenex™ Skin Brightener & Correcting Crème Non-Hydroquinone does not contain hydroquinone but has 1% retinol.
NOTE: With any skin lightening or brightening therapy, you must use daily SPF30 to protect your skin.