In my 30 plus years of experiencing different pigment conditions and observing the inner and outer behaviors of all humans from all walks of life, I find it fascinating how unique and personalized each condition and treatment is. There is so much to know and process as our body is a very unique machine created from so many links. It goes through trials and tribulations all day, every day. We never think of it because we can’t see the inner battle but when one link breaks, we start feeling a certain discomfort that we oftentimes ignore. This results in a much greater change that is out of our comfort zone.
Hormones and Pigmentation
Hormonal changes lead to a chain reaction in the body. Insulin resistance, uneven heat distribution and high levels of proteins combined with high levels of unmetabolized sugars create a darkening of the skin that results in a stain-like condition called melasma.
The proteins in the skin that are prone to glycation are the same proteins that make a youthful plump complexion. When combined with sugars, they become dark and weak. They also result in wrinkles, loss of elasticity and lack of a healthy glow. For a relatable example, think of cooking. When you’re cooking on a frying pan, the brown residue that is created on a frying pan is similar to what takes place during glycation (protein+sugars+heat).
Additionally, the stress levels in the body create chaos and release unwanted stress hormones that behave like cortical steroids, confusing the entire chemical exchange in the body. The process becomes not only unsightly but uncomfortable for the entire system.
When addressing pigmentation, it is essential to address the condition as a whole in order to create lasting results. Melasma can be produced by something as simple as getting angry or stressed, during premenstural syndrome (PMS), menopause or any sort of trauma.
Melasma is related to a heated experience in the body and mind. It’s as simple as that. Today, we find sugars in almost everything that makes it easy to have adverse reactions. Birth control pills may also contribute to some darkening of the skin due to the same reasons that include Insulin resistance as well as hormonal domination.
Today, we have so many tools to treat melasma and sun damage. There is a very careful choice that needs to be made regarding the proper protocol for addressing each case in its own unique way. Yes, we can perform a treatment that may consist of resurfacing, bleaching and treating the inflammatory condition. However, for optimal results, we must create awareness regarding the underlying cause of melasma. The Ingredients that you choose to use can help tremendously as the skin is a live organ and has the ability to regenerate.
Melasma Fighting Ingredients
Some ingredients to consider when treating melasma includes:
- Kojic acid
- Lactic acid
- Alpha hydroxy acid (AHA)
- Beta hydroxy acid(BHA)
- Red algae
- Diamond dust
- Kakadu plum
- Vitamin C
When choosing ingredients for typical sun damage we can be a bit more aggressive in resurfacing. However, when choosing ingredients for melasma, it is important to phase the ingredients more carefully as we are really treating inflammation (heat).
Treatments have to be customized as every individual is unique. For example, treating melasma would be slightly different than treating sun-spots. The reason is because melasma involves resurfacing treatments and more specifically, anti-inflammatory treatments. Whereas, treating sun-spots can be executed more aggressively with lasers such as Fraxel, C02, Clear and Brilliant and so many others.
Treating all pigmentation must be addressed from the inside and out. This can only be done by balancing the body, mind, hormones, digestion, inflammation as well as the environment in which we live. Ingredients must be chosen carefully, shifted and changed as needed. Overall, we must slow down from time to time to allow the body to reboot itself!
Educating the consumer is essential. You can’t just use sun block; you must do more. Selling products is great and fun but making conscious choices for a long-term outcome, as well as seeing results, is ultimately the most satisfying.
All of the above mentioned steps involve taking a deep look into ourselves. Questioning your genetics, behavior, lifestyle and psychology is the only way to get to the core of the problem. We must become diagnosticians and to do that, we have to obtain as much education as possible that is achieved only through observation and experience. Knowledge on its own is not enough. Only we can take ourselves to the next level. Never stop because we never know or experience enough.