One of the most obvious effects of sun damage is hyperpigmentation. Hyperpigmentation refers to any skin condition that is a result of having more than the normal amount of melanin (the pigment of the skin).
In simple terms, hyperpigmentation literally means “over-pigmented”. The melanocytes, which are the cells that produce the melanin, are over stimulated by sun exposure, but can also be stimulated by hormones, exposure to some chemicals, injuries to the skin, and many forms of inflammation.
While freckles tend to develop in people with fair skin, age spots happen later in life regardless of skin type. But both are caused by an accumulation of melanin in the skin. Both will also likely darken in the summer with sun exposure and fade in the winter months.
A Prevention Plan
The best way to avoid these unsightly spots is with a prevention plan. Use a broad spectrum (protects from both UVA & UVB rays) sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 as a part of your daily skin care regimen. Sunscreens should always be your first line of defense. Larimar Medspa carries a huge selection of the best sunscreens available on the market including: SkinCeuticals, Elta MD, Neocutis, Obagi and Blue Lizard.
Sunscreens alone cannot completely neutralize the destructive effects of the sun. Antioxidants, free-radical scavengers, can be applied topically to the skin to help neutralize the damaging effects that the sun has on the skin. A comprehensive antioxidant program can help prevent photoaging and the onset of more serious skin conditions. Topical antioxidants have now been shown to provide up to eight times the skin’s natural protection from UV damage. Antioxidants protect your skin from the sun in ways that sunscreens can’t. When used together, antioxidants and sunscreens provide almost complete photoprotection. Larimar Medspa recommends Skinceuticals antioxidant serums. SkinCeuticals has developed a full menu of super-antioxidant formulas for all skin types - designed to provide the most advanced protection from environmental aging. Ask one of Larimar’s expert estheticians which serum is best for your skin type.
A Corrective Plan
Hyperpigmentation can be corrected with numerous products and treatments. At home products that are popular for lightening discolorations contain melanin suppressants. These agents stop the chemical reactions occurring in the melanocytes at the basel layer that lead to hyperpigmentation. Hydroquinone is the best known of these agents, and the only one officially recognized by the FDA. Other unrecognized yet effective melanin suppressive ingredients include kojic acid & emblica, bearberry extract, and azelaic acid.
Exfoliation is also a key component in correcting hyperpigmentation. Human skin constantly sloughs old dead cells as new ones are produced. With aging, the skin tends to lose some of its ability to eliminate these skin cells. Alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) loosens the “glue” that holds old skin cells in place. When used regularly, AHA helps eliminate old cells and excess melanin. Retinoids are also very effective in speeding up cellular turnover. They have been clinically shown to reduce wrinkles, roughness, freckles and other hyperpigmentation, and generally improve the skins appearance.
Professional treatments offered at Larimar Medspa that aid in skin exfoliation include:
Microdermabrasion -manual exfoliation in which the skin’s surface is stroked with an abrasive vacuum-based wand to slough off dead skin cells
Chemical Peels - application of a chemical agent to the skin that loosens the dead skin cells of the epidermis and increases the cellular turnover rate
HydraFacial™ -The system exfoliates dead skin cells and extracts impurities with a vacuum-based skin abrasion tip. Simultaneously it bathes the healthy underlying skin with active serums that thoroughly cleanse, exfoliate, and hydrate while providing residual antioxidant protection.
Our Laser LimeLight™ Treatment is also a very effective treatment for sun damaged, hyperpigmented skin.The LimeLight uses light waves to correct the pigment in the layers of your skin to reduce discoloration and promote a more even skin tone. LimeLight treats specific areas without abrading the skin’s surface. If you have specific spots treated, they will darken immediately and begin to flake off naturally within one to two weeks to reveal clearer skin.
The treatment of sun damaged skin requires a complete skincare program. Corrective treatments are available, but maintaining the results require a diligent effort from the client to prevent future damage. This includes a lifestyle change concerning sun exposure, faithful use of a broad spectrum sunscreen, and antioxidant protection. Set up a complimentary consultation to find out what treatment options and products are right for you.
*This article courtesy of Larimar's Deidre Thompson, Licensed Esthetician