Who doesn’t adore their own skin? The desire for beautiful skin is universal. Towards the end of summer, when your summer tan should be virtually gone, a look in the mirror may reveal some darker pigmentation on your skin that appear to be staying around. These dark brown patches or spots on the forehead, chin, cheeks, upper lip, and nose may signal a condition called Melasma.
You will be surprised to know that the secret remedies for pigmentation on skin are in the food that we can apply. Although, this might sound quite skeptical but your skin health depends a lot on your choice of skin products. Scroll down to understand the scientific lens of pigmentation on skin and also know more about the food ingredients that help. (Hyperpigmentation: Here’s all you need to know)
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How common is melasma and who is at risk?
Melasma is a relatively prevalent skin condition that affects more women (especially 15 to 50% of pregnant women) than men.It generally begins between the ages of 20 and 40. Melasma can appear on any portion of your skin that is exposed to the sun. It’s also known as “pregnancy mask” or “chloasma.” Dark pigmentation of the skin usually lasts until the end of the pregnancy, but it can sometimes last longer. Melasma is less likely to impact fair-skinned persons than deeper brown skinned people or those who tan easily.
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What happens to the skin?
Our skin is made up of three layers. The epidermis is the outermost layer, the dermis is the intermediate layer, and the subcutis is the deepest layer. Our epidermis contains cells called melanocytes that store and produce a dark colour (pigment) known as melanin. Melanocytes produce more melanin in reaction to light, heat, UV radiation, or hormone stimulation, which is why our skin darkens. Pregnant women have increased levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Hence, these hormones are thought to contribute to melasma. The darker colour usually fades after pregnancy.
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Types of melasma/Pigmentation on skin:
Melasma is divided into three categories based on the depth of the pigmentation on skin.
Epidermal melasma has a dark brown colour, a well-defined border, appears obvious under black light and sometimes responds well to treatment.
Dermal melasma has a light brown or bluish colour, a blurry border, appears no differently under black light and doesn’t respond well to treatment.
3. Mixed melasma:
Mixed melasma, which is the most common of the three, has both bluish and brown patches, shows a mixed pattern under blacklight and shows some response to treatment.
Causes of melasma:
There are two main causes of melasma: radiation, whether ultraviolet, visible light, or infrared (heat) light; and hormones. Ultraviolet and infrared radiation from the sun is key in making melasma worse. Other possible causes of skin melasma include:
- Anti Seizure medications:
- Contraceptive therapy (birth control):
- LED Screens like television, laptop, cell phone and tablet.
- Skincare products:
Signs of melasma:
Melasma causes light brown, dark brown, and/or bluish patches or freckle-like spots on your skin. Sometimes the patches can become red or inflamed. Skin melasma appears in six locations or a combination of locations on your skin:
|Types of Melasma||Locations on skin|
|Brachial||Appears on shoulders and upper arms.|
|Centrofacial||Appears on your forehead, cheeks, nose and also upper lip.|
|Lateral Cheek pattern||Appears on both cheeks.|
|Malar||Appears on your cheeks and nose.|
|Mandibular||Appears on the jawline.|
|Neck||Appear on all sides of the neck.|
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Ingredients that help to get rid of melasma:
Guava contains a variety of antioxidants and vitamins. Also helps lighten spots (black and red). It aids in the protection of your skin from harm. Guava fruit extract, in addition to its health benefits, aids in skin hydration when applied to the skin. Moreover, as guava has antimicrobial properties it may reduce the inflammation caused by dry skin.
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This fruit extract is rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, enzymes and antioxidants too. Papaya contains the enzyme papain, which is present naturally in the fruit. This ingredient can be found in many skin care products. Papain is the main enzyme in papaya that promotes face whitening, face acne scars and also blemishes.
3. MULETHI (Licorice):
This herb extract is rich in antioxidants. Licorice root extract or Mulethi is a common ingredient used in many skincare products to lighten the discolouration or pigmentation. Glabridin, an active ingredient in Licorice root, has shown to possess anti-inflammatory effects and also inhibits tyrosinase, a key enzyme that is responsible for making the pigmentation.
Hydrolysed rice protein is an intense brightening powder. It is an essential element for fading dark spots and also contains proteins that have been rendered small enough to slip into your skin, thus having a more intense effect. It contains vitamin E, starch, and also amino acids, which keep the skin hydrated and provide a protective barrier.
5. ALOE VERA:
This ingredient is effective in treating melasma because it contains mucilaginous polysaccharide (MPS) which can lighten the skin and also eliminate the brown spots. It works by rehydrating dry skin, penetrating deep into the skin’s layer to nourish it and protect it from the harmful effects of UV exposure.
6. HYALURONIC ACID:
Sodium hyaluronate is a form of hyaluronic acid. It draws water from within the dermis and moves it along to the skin’s upper layer, the epidermis. Hyaluronic acid and sodium hyaluronate also play a role in skin elasticity and tone, cell metabolism, regeneration, and healing.
7. VITAMIN C:
Vitamin C plays an important role in maintaining skin health and also decreases melanin synthesis. Tyrosinase is one of the key enzymes in mammalian melanin synthesis. Vitamin C decreases tyrosinase activity that helps to target and prevent conditions related to hyperpigmentation and also skin melasma.
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This humectant is a dry skin superhero. Glycerin has antimicrobial properties and is well suited for almost all types of skin. It helps minimise the water loss in your skin and balances the skin pH. Additionally, it draws moisture to the skin and creates a protective layer which helps in keeping the skin healthy and also glowing. In skin care products, glycerin is majorly used as an occlusive that traps moisture in the skin. Few studies show that glycerin is the most effective humectant.