With the Fitzpatrick chart, skin color is not classified by ethnicity but by the risk for sunburn. Even skin types with more melanin, such as Type IV to VI (see Type Chart) with shades ranging from olive, brown to dark complexions is at risk. These are generally Hispanics, Asians, Africans, African-Americans and Latinos.
The melanin in their skin is not just their common denominator; it’s their higher risk for hyperpigmentation.
There are millions of individuals coming from different racial backgrounds suffering the onslaught of hyperpigmentation. Dermatological trends have long strived to consolidate an effective means of solving this problem. Years of research and patient documentation have amounted to what seems to be the ideal, if not most proven solution for hyperpigmentation. Now, Rich Complexions have the toughest battle.
Understanding the Role of Melanin
Genes, hormones and sun exposure are the top culprits for hyperpigmentation, but everything boils down to the melanin formation. Identifying the problem of hyperpigmentation begins with understanding this process.
Melanin is produced by melanocyte, cells found in the epidermis of the skin. The process begins and is catalyzed by the enzyme Tyrosinase, an amino acid.
- Tyrosinase is converted to L-Dopa
- L-Dopa is converted to Dopaquinone with the help of Tyrosunase and Copper
- Dopaquinone is then processed more to form the melanin
In order for Melanin to form Copper and Tyrosinase are needed.
Melanogenesis is the term that refers to the increased formation of melanin, triggered by UVB radiation which physically leads to a tan. Melanin is the skin’s build in sunscreen because it absorbs 99.9% of the harmful UV rays and converts it to heat, thus preventing DNA damage that leads to skin cancers and melanoma.
UV exposure can trigger the formation of melanin for those with extra melanin in their skin because melanin production can be easily triggered or faster by hormones or inflammation. In this case a mere scratch or imbalance in the hormones lead to melanocyte, releasing tyrosinase which binds with copper that result in dark spots.
The Advisable Treatment Process
Skin experts have goals when their patients come to them seeking treatment for hyperpigmentation which include:
- Inhibiting the formation of melanocytes, if not the break down
- Inhibiting TYROSINASE AND COPPER
- Most importantly, preventing sun exposure
While there are many ingredients that have been proven to lighten dark spots by inhibiting TYROSINASE AND COPPER formation in the skin, their safety and reaction to the skin is controversial. The problem is Rich Complexions face another issue; skin sensitivity. Many ingredients that can treat hyperpigmentation may also worsen it.
Most prescribed ingredients known to inhibit melanogenesis:
- Hydroquinone or HQ (2-4%)
- Tretinoin (0.05%-0.1%)
- Azelaic Acid (15-20%)
- Kojic Acid (2%)
- Gycolic Acid (2%)
Effective Combination Therapy
- Kligman formula (HQ 5%, tretinoin 0.1% and dexamethasone 0.1%)
- Azelaic acid + 0.05% tretinoin or 15-20% glycolic acid
- Kojic acid 2% + HQ 2% 9 (One of the most effective)
- Glycolic acid 5% + HQ 4% or kojic acid 4% ( For faster results)
According to experts, to avoid irritation, choose products that have the above ingredients, preferably in combination, but in low percentages to minimize risk of potential inflammation.
For now, Hydroquinone has been proven to effectively lighten scars especially at a low percentage of 2%, and when combined with kojic acid, ascorbic acid and lactic acid it can dramatically speed up the process.
The Most Sensible Thing To Do
No matter the chosen ingredient, patience is the key. Product compatibility is trial and error which may take a month to see visible results. This is because shutting down melanin production of the skin is half of the solution and may take time. Fading dark spots is another issue and has been observed to naturally peel within 45 days. UV rays induced spots would fade faster than those hormonally triggered which can (or do) take longer to fade.
Finally, at the core of the treatment, it is best to practice sun protection daily; indoors, but especially outdoors. Wear an all-purpose sunscreen that simultaneously protects and hydrates in order to avoid Melanogenesis.
An additional advantage of a uniquely photostablized broad spectrum daily hydrating sunscreen lotion is that it helps prevent dark spots from appearing in the future as the UV rays can aggravate hyperpigmentation.
Choose a sunscreen that has broad spectrum protection and anti-oxidants with hydrators as well. This takes care of the overall skin care regimen.
By doing so, it prevents and heals scars; ultimately leading to a beautiful complexion and wellness that makes for better quality of life.