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Jul 11, 2016
by Vivant Skin Care
If you’re prone to hyperpigmentation, the dark patches, spots, irregular patterns in the skin caused by excess melanin production, you are probably well aware of the need to protect your skin from sun exposure. But if you thought that was all you needed to worry about, get ready to be surprised and maybe a little annoyed, because the sun is only one of the things that may be causing that map of Argentina to bloom across your forearm. Here are a few other causes you should be looking out for:
1. Sex. Actually, birth control. (This being the internet, we went with the more provocative lead. See, you’re annoyed already. Let’s go on.) The same overload of melanocyte-stimulating hormones that can provoke melasma during pregnancy, occurs when you’re taking hormone-based birth control. The pill, the patch and the ring keep estrogen and progesterone hormone levels in a constantly elevated state, which can bring on the “pregnancy mask” without the pregnancy. It’s worth a discussion with your doctor to see if there’s a lower dose option.
2. Diet. The jury is out on whether diet is a real contributor to hyperpigmentation, but there is sufficient correlative evidence to warrant consideration. Folate deficiency has been linked to the condition. Since foods high in folate also happen to be just generally good for your health—leafy greens, nuts, whole grains, citrus—increasing your consumption can’t be a bad thing. Vitamins C and E help repair pigment-producing UV damage. You find these two hero antioxidants in things like citrus, kiwi, tomatoes, broccoli and bell peppers.
3. Your laptop computer. It’s a weird little phenomenon known as erythema ab igne. No, that’s not a typo. It’s a skin condition resulting from prolonged or repeated exposure to radiation from modern conveniences like the battery in your laptop, a heating pad, or the car seats that keep your bum toasty on your way to the ski resort. The resulting lacey pattern of hyperpigmentation usually disappears on its own after the offending heat source is removed.
4. Waxing. Getting rid of that moustache is painful enough without having to worry about triggering a post-inflammatory patch of pigmentation, but that’s definitely a concern when you wax. The cellular trauma produced by ripping hair from its follicle can trigger an inflammation reaction that results in increased melanin production. Your skin is also more sensitive to the sun, a major factor in hyperpigmentation, following a waxing procedure. To minimize irritation, use an anti-bacterial wash like Vivant's Mandelic Acid 3-in-1 Wash before waxing. And be sure to use sunscreen, or avoid sun exposure altogether, in the days following the waxing.
5. Hyperpigmentation Treatments. Sounds counterintuitive, right? But over-treating can actually worsen, rather than help your condition. Treatments that use heat or harsh exfoliation, i.e. laser, microdermabrasion or high percentage chemical peels, can trigger melanin production as the skin becomes inflamed and irritated. Gentler treatments and lower acid percentages are the best approach. Look for products containing mandelic acid or kojic acid. Both are excellent natural inhibitors of tyrosinase, a catalyst for melanin production, and the same enzyme that causes your fruit to turn brown. Gentler than hydroquinone or resorcinol, mandelic and kojic acids are the best choice for darker skin more prone to hyperpigmentation. Vivant’s 8% Mandelic Acid 3-in-1 Serum is a champion in this arena.
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