Understanding Hyper-Pigmentation 

Hyper-pigmentation (too much pigmentation) is an extremely common skin issue that we encounter daily in South Africa, in all ages and ethnicities!!

Have you ever wondered why this happens to certain people more than others? Or what kind of solutions there are available and if they actually work? 

I would like to firstly explain what pigmentation is, how it works and why your skin might be prone to over production of the brown pigment called Melanin.

What is pigmentation?

 Pigment factories called Melanocytes are responsible for producing Melanin, the natural pigment, which produces each individuals specific, genetically determined skin tone.

The creation of this brown pigment in the Melanocyte is referred to as Melanogenisis. The enzyme Tyrosinase acts as a catalyst in the melanin production through oxidation. This brown pigment gets deposited into the Keratinocytes and works its way up into the upper layers of the skin.

Melanin also has several essential protective functions. It helps the skin defend against the harmful effects of UV light (like your body’s own built-in sunscreen) and combats free radicals, helping to prevent against photo-ageing and cancer formation.

What is Hyper-pigmentation and what triggers it?

When our skin has stress factors applied to it, it becomes inflamed.

Hyper-Pigmentation is a side effect of this inflammation.

Inflammation can be caused by:

  • Sun exposure – UV light as well as visible light like electronic screens and indoor lighting and infrared.
  • Hormones – including pregnancy, menopause and oral contraceptive pills/injections etc.
  • Stress – emotional and physical
  • Medications – certain antibiotics, anti malaria, anti psychotic
  • Heat – hot days, saunas and steam rooms
  • Inflammation – acne or other physical trauma

In treatment if we can determine the activator or catalyst accurately, we are able to inhibit the hyper pigmentation process much more effectively!

Types of Hyper – Pigmentation

There are 3 main types of hyper-pigmentation.

1 – Hyper-Pigmentation caused by excessive sun exposure

2 – Melasma-This chronic skin condition is caused mainly by hormonal influence or change e.g. pregnancy, menopause, birth control etc.  

It appears as patches of dark discolouration often with a symmetrical pattern, typically found on your cheeks, forehead or upper lip. It is more common in women with olive or darker skin tones and tends to be more stubborn and difficult to treat.

3 – Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH)

This type of hyperpigmenation occurs after a trauma has taken place on the skin.

The darker skin tones including what we refer to as Mediterranean or olive skin tones, asian skin tones and the darker ethnic skin tones are more susceptible to hyper pigmentation.

2 types of melanin are created either brown black or reddish yellow melanin. This is determined by our genetic disposition.

Steps to Successful Pigmentation Correction

Below I will list the top ingredients and treatments methods for the management and inhibition of melanogenisis:

Step 1:

Consult with an Aesthetic Therapist.

Identify which type of pigmentation you have. Determine which catalysts are present. If currently pregnant, lactating or on any medication it may be wise to wait until starting treatment.

If on chronic medication it is important to understand that the treatment or management of the hyper-pigmentation may be ongoing as the catalyst will not be eliminated.

Together you will also be able to identify which type of hyper-pigmentation you have. This is very important in choosing the correct treatment plan going forward.

Your aesthetician should be able to advise you accurately. She will be able manage your expectations and advise you of the results you should realistically be able to achieve. Together you can discuss treatment protocols, options and home care management.

Step 2:

Discuss Lifestyle and Current Homecare

Identify possible detrimental habits and home care no no’s you may be unintentionally doing. These may be compromising your epidermis or making the hyper-pigmentation worse. Adopt a daily routine of using high protection Sun Screen.

Step 3:

Home Skin Care Products

The next step is starting to introduce the correct home care.

Before even considering any kind of treatment it is very important to start a home routine, using product recommended by a professional, for your skin.

There are a number of highly effective skin care ingredients available today.

Addressing the down regulation of the tyrosinase is the prominent approach in inhibiting melanogenisis.

Ingredients such as Retinol, Arbutin, MSH inhibiting Peptides and certain acids are able to penetrate deep into the dermis and start taking action on the melanin production.

Other ingredients such as: Anti Oxidants, Vitamin C’s, etc… Which are water soluble do not penetrate as deeply, but do provide protection from UV and a surface brightening effect on the skin.

Adopting the correct skin care and taking care of your protective barrier will result in a more long term, and healthy elimination of the pigmentation.


We Recommend: Dermaclinical: Derma system Plus the Suitable product from the MY SKIN BRIGHTER RANGE.

Step 4:

In-Clinic Treatments

A few weeks after your home care routine is well established and your skin is ready, in clinic treatments are an amazing way to boost up your results.

Micro needling with Meso Ampules containing pigment inhibiting peptides, is a great way to accelerate your way to a smooth, even and radiant skin tone.

Alternated with peels and the introduction of brightening products you will be smiling every time you catch your reflection in the mirror!

Laser treatment is also a highly effective option in the winter months!

Ask your Aesthetician what they recommend for your skin and your lifestyle..

Step 5:

Long-term Maintenance Plan!

Hyper Pigmentation is a chronic inflammatory condition which may reoccur time and time again.

On going maintenance is essential and also please remember to protect your results by avoiding sun exposure and use the correct sun protection!

Healthy radiant skin takes dedication and a little effort buts it’s worth it!!!