What is hyperpigmentation?
Hyperpigmentation describes any darkened spots or patches of skin. Almost everybody produces melanin for general skin pigmentation, or colour. The prefix 'hyper-' means 'above' or 'excessive'.
There are four types of hyperpigmentation, with somewhat different causes:
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation: caused by acne or skin injury
Age spots: brought on by ageing pigmentation cells
Melasma: a consequence of hormonal changes
Freckles: an effect of sun exposure
You may have noticed that just one condition is caused by sun exposure. However, this cursory list doesn't fully explain the sun's role in hyperpigmentation. To understand this, we need to dig a little deeper.
The relationship between sun exposure and hyperpigmentation
Sunlight is a combination of many kinds of light. Each type of light initiates biological processes in your body. For example, UV light has two predominant effects on the skin:
UV light induces the manufacture and redistribution of melanin—also known as a 'tan'.
UV light promotes the ageing of all types of skin cells, including the cells that produce melanin.
This is important to understand, because sun exposure has a knock-on effect on all types of hyperpigmentation. For example:
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation can be exaggerated through sun exposure or even caused by severe sun damage.
Age spots can be hastened by the ageing effects of UV light.
The brown mask of melasma may be intensified by the melanin promotion of UV light.
The bottom line: all forms of hyperpigmentation can be promoted by exposure to UV light. The solution is just as simple: apply sun protection 365 days a year.
Why sun protection is effective at preventing hyperpigmentation
Sun protection works by preventing energetic UV light from interacting with your skin. It does this in two ways:
By blocking UV light from reaching your skin, e.g. physical filters such as zinc oxide (sunblocks)
By reacting with UV light and dampening its energy, e.g. chemical filters such as octocrylene (sunscreens)
Both sunscreens and sunblocks are great solutions for hyperpigmentation. Integrate one of our favourites into your routine:
Protect your skin with Aspect Envirostat SPF 50, a high-performance chemical sunscreen that provides UVA, UVB, and antioxidant protection. This lightweight, dry-touch sunscreen has a non-sticky and non-greasy formula that can be used as a face cream and as a body lotion. It’s free of fragrances and mineral oils, offering high broad-spectrum protection in a UV-stabilised formula.
For heavy-duty sun exposure, you need heavy-duty sun protection. Stay protected during your favourite outdoor activities with Dermalogica Protection 50 Sport SPF 50. This unique, antioxidant-rich formula is non-greasy, water-resistant, and provides broad-spectrum protection to keep you safe and sun-damage-free.
What if your sun protection could feel as luxe, and do the hard work of an expensive anti-ageing serum? Queen Screen is on the scene. A sunscreen for everybody who loves a bit of glow, Ultra Violette Queen Screen SPF 50+ has a serum-like texture and feelings like nothing at all. Free from oils but full of skin-loving native Australian antioxidants so your skin is happy, and is protected from the sun and free radicals.
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Dermalogica did more than bump up the SPF in this reformulation. The new formula is packed with anti-aging powerhouses like Antioxidants and Collagen Peptides to keep skin healthy, smooth, and protected all day long. Smooth and silky without the tacky finish of other sunscreen moisturisers, this moisturiser looks great on its own or beneath makeup. It’s the perfect option for those looking for a high quality formula that’s easy to wear and works for everyone.
Remember that UVA rays are the same strength all year round, and their effects are silent for a long time. Wear sun protection diligently, and your skin will be safe from premature fine lines, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation.
Find sun protection formulas in our sunscreen store, where you're sure to find the perfect product for your unique skin needs.