Have you ever wondered why you still get pigmentation on your skin even though you’ve been avoiding the sun like a plague? Perhaps you’re thinking your sunscreen is useless?
Credit: True Skin Cosmetic & Laser Clinic
Well, while excessive exposure to sunlight is one of the main causes for dark spots on the skin, there are many other factors that can contribute to skin pigmentation. Here, I show you 10 triggers you may not be aware of:
Some of you may have realized by now that your acne marks can become a permanent pigmented spot. This is referred to as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, which appears as flat spots of discolouration. Besides acne, other causes for post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation include atopic dermatitis or psoriasis. Even injuries caused by dermabrasion, chemical peels or laser-therapies can trigger skin pigmentation. While all skin types can get post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, it is more prevalent in darker tones of skin (source).
How to avoid: If you have acne issues, be very careful how you handle your skin. This is the main reason why you’re asked not to squeeze or aggravate your acne. Some gentle exfoliation after your acne recovery will aid in minimizing post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
2. Heat from sauna and cooking
It’s not only the scorching sun that’ll give you pigmentation. Heat from fire, cooking and sauna are culprits too—basically anything that stimulates the pigment cells. According to Dermatologist Cheryl Lee Eberting, heat can worsen one’s melasma. Dermatologic Surgeon Sabrina Fabi also indicated that a study they did that skin browning was intimately associated with underlying blood vessels that dilate and get worse with heat (source).
How to avoid: So avoid exposing your face to anything of high heat…even that innocuous hairdryer! Keep a distance away from the stove fire when you’re cooking. Or turn down the fire to a smaller flame if it’s possible.
Many readings suggest that parabens are estrogenic but what caught my attention was that studies (source) indicate that methylparaben applied on the skin reacts with UVB leading to increase skin aging and DNA damage. These results indicate that methylparaben may have harmful effects on human skin when exposed to sunlight. I’ll probably get a lot of flaks for this but do note that I am citing a credible study. You can say the results are inconclusive and speculative but that makes any refute against it equally inconclusive and speculative.
How to avoid: For someone prone to pigmentation, I’ll say it’s better to use products without parabens.
4. Chemical sunscreens
Credit: Vine Vera
I wrote about the possibility of chemical sunscreen causing hyperpigmentation. In the entry, I mentioned that while the chemical sunscreen agents absorbed into the skin surface may prevent sunburn, they generally do it by absorbing UV rays in sunlight and dispersing the energy/heat into the surrounding tissue, which in turn can stimulate melanin production (as the skin’s heat sensors signal that it is being attacked). So in essence, the process of absorbing the rays and dispersing the energy can still trigger hyperpigmentation in the skin.
In addition, many sunscreens contain chemicals that are said to be estrogenic and that cause hormonal imbalance which in turn can lead to abnormal melanin production. This is why some pregnant women suffer from melasma as they experience increased estrogen. And you may like to know that lab tests have shown that Benzophenone (benzophenone-3), Homosalate and Octy-methoxycinnamate (Octinoxate) exhibit estrogenic activity (source). Moreover, there are those parabens said to be estrogenic found in chemical sunscreens although that topic remains contentious.
How to avoid: You need to know what active ingredients go into your chemical sunscreen. Otherwise, go for mineral sunscreen with high zinc oxide content.
5. Poor blood circulation
Credit: Huffington Post
Poor blood circulation often results in a lack of oxygen in the blood and hence, this can also cause skin pigmentation, dark spots or blotchy complexion. Logically, an improved blood circulation could prevent this.
How to avoid: Improve your blood circulation by exercising more. You can also go for more massages to stimulate the blood flow.
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