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SPF Improves Pigmentation

woman applying sunscreen in beach
Sun exposure has various negative effects on the skin over time if you aren’t protecting your skin. The UV rays degrade the collagen in the skin at the same time they are causing sunburn. This is both uncomfortable and can lead to lasting issues that you have to work hard to correct. One of the common larger issues is hyperpigmentation. This is a broad term that covers sun spots and other forms of skin discoloration where one patch of skin is darker than the rest. Most of us will experience at least a few minor instances of this across our lives even with adequate protection. Hyperpigmentation can be uncomfortably obvious and feel like it is disrupting our appearance. Fortunately, it isn’t that hard to deal with and there are a few relatively simple solutions to the problem. With this in mind, let’s take a closer look at hyperpigmentation and how to deal with it.

The Cause
Skin tones are linked directly to the amount of melanin in our skin. The various skin tones of the world, in essence, represent different default amounts of melanin in the skin that were controlled by the environment particular peoples adapted to over time. You can get a clear image of this simply by considering tanning. For most of us, it results in our skin darkening at least a little. This is because the skin is producing more melanin in response to UV rays. Melanin helps to defend the body against the worst effects of UV rays by absorbing and dispersing the rays. Darkening skin from a tan is a sign of your body working in its own defense. The problem is that sun exposure and other incidents can cause skin damage that leads the skin to overreact in particular areas of skin. This in turn leads to areas where the skin produces far more melanin than it needs to and thereby permanently darkens an area of skin to varying degrees. The issue can potentially happen to anyone, but is most common among people with darker skin tones.

SPF and Pigmentation
The biggest problem associated with hyperpigmentation is that it is difficult to stop it from getting worse. Once an area has darkened, further exposure to the sun simply reinforces the extra production of melanin. This creates a feedback loop where it darkens so effectively due to a form of damage and then gets reinforced because it is so good at defending the area. It creates a status quo we can often find unwelcome. Fortunately, you can try to manage the issue with something as simple as sunscreen or an SPF-including moisturizer. This is a preventive measure for most of us. Your skin has to get the signal to create extra melanin for the problem to happen in the first place or for the damage that causes it to even happen. Regularly applying sunscreen helps to minimize the potential problem and acts as a good way to manage currently faint hyperpigmentation and prevent it from getting worse while you seek more rigorous treatments. Sunscreen does still have a role to play with some of those treatments though.

Brightening The Issue
Particularly noticeable hyperpigmentation tends to impact our self-esteem. It is easy enough to work against if you’re willing to talk to your dermatologist. Particularly severe cases are sometimes treated with laser skin therapies, but in most cases, a gentler approach can be taken. These gentler approaches involve continuing to use sunscreen, but using it in conjunction with topical medications that reduce melanin production in the skin and allow natural shedding to gradually lighten the area. This is easily improved with exfoliating products too. The process of using sunscreen and these medications does take time though. You also want to have a long discussion with your dermatologist or doctor about potential side effects as some treatment options can cause permanent skin sensitivity. These treatments are highly effective though and proven ways to reduce hyperpigmentation. Only you can make the decision on whether a treatment has acceptable risks for you.

SPF-including products don’t really directly impact pigmentation issues, but they can prevent and minimize hyperpigmentation indirectly. They do this by helping minimize the amount of sun exposure skin is subjected to that can boost further melanin production in the skin. The simple process of letting your skin shed naturally while using sunscreen regularly can lighten an area of skin, but you may need topical medication to augment this feature. Regardless, SPF is necessary for proper treatment in the long run.

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