Dark spots, commonly known as hyperpigmentation, can arise from various factors. The primary cause is an excess production of melanin, the pigment responsible for the colour of skin, hair, and eyes. Here are the most common reasons for dark spots:

Sun Exposure: Ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun can stimulate melanocyte cells to produce more melanin. Over time, this can lead to freckles, age spots, and other forms of hyperpigmentation.

Skin Inflammation: Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) occurs as a response to skin injury or inflammation. Common triggers include:

  • Acne lesions
  • Wounds

Hormonal Changes: Melasma or chloasma spots are similar in appearance to age spots but are larger areas of darkened skin that often occur as a result of hormonal changes, such as pregnancy or the use of oral contraceptives. 

Aging: As the skin ages, it can develop age spots, also known as liver spots or solar lentigines. These are often a result of accumulated sun exposure over the years.

Genetics: Some people are genetically predisposed to develop certain types of hyperpigmentation, such as freckles.

Chemical Exposure, medications, skin irritations, and medical conditions can also cause hyperpigmentation.

How does popping my own pimples affect my future hyperpigmented acne scars?

Results of At-Home Extractions

If you are not a trained skin technician, at-home extractions can intensify or cause dark-spot acne scars , also known as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH). Popping without proper prepping triggers skin inflammation, a major factor in PIH development, particularly in darker skin tones.

Extracting without the right preparation and aftercare can push bacteria deeper or spread it, elevating PIH risk through increased inflammation. Pimples popped at home can also heal more slowly, prolonging inflammation and intensifying PIH. The inflammation can prompt melanocytes to produce extra melanin, resulting in darkened skin spots and a higher risk of lasting scars.

How Professional Extractions Minimize Risks

When extractions are performed by trained skin technicians during a facial, several measures are taken to mitigate the risks associated with popping pimples and to ensure the process is as safe and beneficial as possible:

  • Preparation: The skin is usually prepped using a gentle steam treatment or warm towels. This softens the skin and opens up the pores, making extractions easier and reducing the potential for skin trauma.
  • Sterilization: skin technicians use sterilized tools and ensure their hands are clean and often gloved. This reduces the risk of introducing new bacteria into the skin.
  • Technique: Professionals use specialized extraction techniques that minimize trauma to the surrounding skin. They’re trained to recognize which blemishes can be safely extracted and which should be left alone.
  • Aftercare: Post-extraction, soothing and antibacterial products are applied to calm the skin and minimize the risk of infection. This step also aids in reducing inflammation, which can lead to PIH.
  • Guidance: If a blemish is deemed too risky to extract (because it’s too deep, for example), the skin technician  will typically advise against extracting it and might provide advice on alternative treatments.
  • Experience: Skin technicians have seen a variety of skin types and conditions. Their experience enables them to gauge the level of pressure to apply and to determine the best extraction methods for each individual.
  • Tailored Treatments: Often, facials are tailored to the client’s specific skin type and concerns. A skin technician  can choose products and treatments that not only aid in the extraction process but also help in the healing and prevention of future breakouts.

Managing hyperpigmentation effectively largely depends on its cause, extent, location, and your skin type. Let’s delve deeper into the best treatments for various degrees and types of hyperpigmentation.

PicoSure Laser

 

The PicoSure laser is at the forefront of laser technology for treating hyperpigmentation. It uses ultra-short pulse durations to break down pigment particles in the skin, ensuring rapid and effective results. With PicoSure, the focus is on targeting melanin and leaving the surrounding tissues unharmed, making it a go-to for precision and efficacy. Typically, 3-6 sessions (usually under 15 minutes each) are needed for excellent results. 

Fractional Laser

Fractional lasers treat a fraction of the skin at a time, leaving the surrounding tissue intact for faster healing. These lasers create micro-injuries that stimulate the body’s natural healing process, promoting collagen production and accelerating cell turnover.

This approach effectively addresses hyperpigmentation by triggering the process that replaces damaged skin with new, healthy skin. Like most non-invasive treatments, you will likely need to space a few sessions out over a few months to allow new, less marked skin to be generated after each treatment until you reach your desired outcome. 

IPL Photofacials

 

Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) targets melanin, the pigment responsible for dark spots. By focusing on these areas, IPL breaks down the pigment, allowing the body to naturally remove it. Over a series of treatments, hyperpigmentation diminishes, revealing clearer skin.

Best Skincare Ingredients to Accompany Hyperpigmentation Treatments

Here’s what to look for:

  • Hydroquinone: An experts-approved skin lightener, hydroquinone works by inhibiting the enzyme tyrosinase, which plays a role in melanin production. By doing so, it reduces the appearance of dark spots, offering a clearer complexion.
  • AHAs (Alpha Hydroxy Acids): AHAs are naturally-occurring acids that exfoliate the skin’s surface layers. By promoting cell turnover, they help in bringing newer, less-pigmented skin cells to the surface, thereby lightening dark spots over time.
  • Retinol: A derivative of vitamin A, retinol stimulates collagen production and accelerates cell turnover. As a result, it can diminish the appearance of hyperpigmentation, revealing a smoother and more even-toned skin.
  • Niacinamide: A form of vitamin B3, niacinamide helps in reducing the visibility of dark spots by interfering with the process that leads to melanin production. Additionally, it boasts anti-inflammatory properties that further benefit the skin.

While anti-hyperpigmentation skincare products are effective, they yield the best results when used in conjunction with medi spa treatments.

Professional Chemical Peels

 

Professional chemical peels involve applying a chemical solution to the skin, causing it to exfoliate and eventually peel or flake off. The new, regenerated skin is smoother, with noticeably reduced hyperpigmentation.

Microneedling

 

Microneedling, also known as collagen induction therapy, involves the use of a device equipped with fine needles to create controlled micro-injuries in the skin. These tiny channels stimulate the skin’s natural healing response, which has several beneficial effects for hyperpigmentation.

Microneedling stimulates collagen and elastin production, rejuvenating the skin and improving hyperpigmentation. The technique’s micro-channels enhance the absorption of topical products, amplifying their effects. Additionally, it speeds up skin cell turnover, facilitating the replacement of hyperpigmented cells with healthier ones and aiding in the dispersal of pigment deposits.

Which treatment should I pick?

For Regular Hyperpigmentation:

Regular hyperpigmentation refers to mild to moderate dark spots or areas that might arise from sun exposure, minor injuries, or acne.

  • Topical Treatments & Chemical Peels: Professional chemical exfoliation results in regenerated skin that is smoother and exhibits diminished hyperpigmentation. Skincare ingredients such as hydroquinone, AHAs, niacinamide, and retinol work by inhibiting melanin production or accelerating skin cell turnover.
  • IPL Photofacials: This treatment targets melanin, breaking down the pigment in dark spots. It’s effective for sun-induced freckles and age spots.

For Stubborn or Widespread Hyperpigmentation:

Stubborn hyperpigmentation can arise from prolonged sun exposure, hormonal imbalances (melasma), or more severe instances of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) after skin injuries or acne.

  • PicoSure Laser: Especially effective for more widespread or stubborn spots, this laser’s rapid pulse duration helps in breaking down pigment effectively.
  • Fractional Laser: This laser is excellent for more persistent pigmentation, encouraging the skin to heal with a reduced appearance of dark spots.
  • Professional Chemical Peels: Stronger peels can penetrate deeper into the skin, making them effective for more persistent hyperpigmentation.

For Different Types of Hyperpigmentation:

 

  • Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH): This occurs after skin injury or inflammation. Topical treatments, like retinol and AHAs, can help. For more stubborn PIH, consider fractional lasers or professional chemical peels.
  • Melasma: Often linked to hormonal changes, melasma presents as brown or gray-brown patches on the face. It requires a multifaceted approach. Topical treatments such as hydroquinone can be beneficial, but PicoSure or fractional laser is very effective, especially for persistent cases.
  • Freckles and Age Spots: Caused by sun exposure, these are best treated with IPL photofacials, which target melanin directly. PicoSure laser and chemical peels can also be beneficial.
  • Lentigines: Similar to freckles but larger and darker, lentigines can be treated with lasers like the PicoSure or IPL treatments.

The effectiveness of a treatment can vary based on individual skin types and the depth of the pigment. If you are not sure which treatment you would prefer, we suggest booking a complimentary skin consultation. Our expert skin technicians will help determine the most effective treatment strategy and additionally suggest skincare ingredients to support treatments for your unique skin and lifestyle.