How hyperpigmentation happens and ways to treat it, especially for melanin-rich skin.
Before making Milk Marvel we needed to know: Why is melanin-rich skin more prone to hyperpigmentation and dark spots?
Our dermatologist, Dr. Ann Brewer, taught us that when melanin-rich skin is exposed to injury (think acne, bug bites, ingrown hairs, harsh ingredients, etc.) the skin heals in response but produces excess melanin pigment, which results in dark or pigmented spots.
Because of this, melanin-rich skin needs to be treated much more gently to avoid inflammation and the resulting hyperpigmentation. So here’s a handy guide on how hyperpigmentation happens, how to prevent it, and how Milk Marvel addresses dark spots without changing your overall skin tone.
What is hyperpigmentation? And what causes it?
Hyperpigmentation, especially post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH), is a common condition in melanin-rich skin. It may appear as a darkening of the skin from acne, ingrown hairs, insect bites, harsh ingredients or other skin injury from sun exposure or pollution. Hormones and genetics can even play a part. When it comes to PIH, acne or bug bites tend to be the common causes for dark spots.
Why is hyperpigmentation more common in melanin-rich skin?
One word: melanocytes. These are delicate cells responsible for producing your skin’s melanin. They’re sensitive to stress, inflammation, and heat which leads to both hyperpigmentation (the darkening of the skin) and hypopigmentation (the lightening of the skin) after cell injury. Because lighter skin tones have less active melanocytes, hyperpigmentation tends to be less significant.
This is why treating melanin-rich skin with gentle products and procedures is so important: It helps avoid inflammation and those resulting unwanted dark spots.
What do you mean by melanin-rich?
Melanin-rich skin isn’t about color but function. If you can tan without burning, you have skin that’s rich in melanin. Skin color depends on key differences in the production of melanin into different sizes, amounts, and ratios of melanin — but that’s different from having “melanin-rich” skin.
How does post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation happen?
PIH happens in three steps:
- Injury or inflammation to the skin – This includes acne, ingrown hairs, insect bites, harsh ingredients, etc.
- Increase in melanin triggered by skin healing – Melanocytes are stimulated, resulting in an increase of melanin production. Melanin is a pigment that gives skin its color and protects skin damaged from UV light.
- Pigment deposited – The melanin pigment is deposited in excess within existing cells, forming darker spots on skin.
How can you help prevent hyperpigmentation?
In addition to a skincare routine that treats hyperpigmentation, you can defend skin from the direct causes of discoloration and dark spots by:
- Wearing sunscreen (or hats) every day
- Caring for acne to help prevent post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation
- Avoiding touching the skin, especially blemishes or bug bites
- Using gentle active ingredients that won’t exacerbate inflammation
How does Milk Marvel help hyperpigmentation?
It only targets excess melanin (not your natural skin tone) with gentle ingredients:
- Ethyl Ascorbic Acid Vitamin C: Highly stable encapsulated form of Vitamin C (10x more effective and won’t turn orange) known for its exceptional collagen-boosting and skin-brightening properties. It’s non-irritating and protects against free-radical damage, aging, and dark spots.
- Niacinamide: Fights acne, soothes inflammation, helps prevent new pimples, and improves skin texture.
- Amber Algae: Dramatically reduces dark spots while evening skin without changing its tyrosinase (the enzyme that controls melanin production) activity to preserve your skin’s natural tone.
- Licorice Root: Highly effective brightener for combating discoloration, removing excess pigmentation, and inhibiting inflammation.
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