Throughout our lives our skin takes a beating. Whether skin discoloration occurred from too much exposure to the sun, remnants of teenage acne scarring, unbalanced hormones or just not taking care of it, skin discoloration or pigmentation is an issue most individuals will encounter during their lifetime.
Cosmetic companies have our numbers. They make a fortune selling products to even out skin tone. And because we prefer not to have people focus on our blotchy faces, we buy their products eagerly. What much of the public doesn’t know, however, is that skin discoloration does not have to occur. Prevention starting at the earliest age possible is the key to keeping young, glowing skin.
Skin pigmentation simply means skin color in all its glory. That can mean patches of dark skin where even skin tone used to appear, most of which comes from the body producing melanin, which is the substance inherent in our skin at birth. Melanin production can also occur when the skin cells respond to an inflammatory process to protect the DNA of your skin. A perfect example is sun exposure. In fact, sun exposure is the leading cause of abnormal skin pigmentation. When melanin is produced as a form of skin protection, the pigment can be spotty or appear in patches. The result? Abnormal skin color and texture. Did you know that a suntan is actually a form of skin damage and there IS NO SUCH THING as a “healthy tan?” Those who were born in the era where they encouraged the sun with a bottle of baby oil laced with iodine will be the first to admit that they were ignorant as to the damage they were inflicting. And that a deep tan each year, while considered attractive at the time, served as a ticking time bomb as they aged.
So let’s get back to basics. Why is the skin of a toddler so perfect? With no wrinkles and no sun exposure, the skin has a glow and brightness as a result of perfect, even skin pigmentation. No melanin has yet been triggered and in our youth our skin is rapidly producing new skin cells to replace the few that were damaged. Fast forward to the teenage years and skin is starting to become uneven, no doubt by significant sun exposure and biological hormones as well.
Now we are in our midlife. Decades of sun exposure, hormonal influences from pregnancy and/ or menopause, and/ or pharmaceutical medications like antibiotics have taken their toll. By our 40s our skin cell turnover has declined, decreasing more with each passing year. Age spots begin to appear because our skin can no longer combat the years of accumulated skin insults. Ever notice how you can see a difference in the age spots and even wrinkles on the left side of your face compared to the right side? It’s probably because the sun hit you on that side while driving your car.
What can be done now?
- First and foremost, sunblock every day. And I don’t mean relying on the spf factor in your foundation or moisturizer, I mean a real stand-alone sunblock of 30 spf or higher.
- Secondly, the products you use can be considered your skin’s diet. Rejuvenating serums can be used to ensure the skin has all the materials necessary for healthy skin production and slow the aging process. Products with vitamin C and E also help to combat skin cell inflammation and significantly reduce the formation of abnormal skin pigment. Remember that the skin is the largest organ in your body and maintenance is a crucial factor.
- Lastly, encourage skin cell turnover. There are many ways to do this depending on your budget and skin types. Peels, hydrafacials, photofacials, and lasers can help increase cell turnover and treat abnormal skin pigmentation to turn back the clock for that healthy skin glow.
If you are fortunate enough to have been spared skin discoloration on your face, start a skin health care plan now. Skin care products and a targeted method of encouraging skin cell turnover will provide beautiful skin well into your senior years. Do not wait to care for your skin until abnormal pigmentation occurs. This is a signal that significant skin damage is present. Prevention is better than a cure when it comes to having beautiful skin and defying your age.
Call me for a skin consultation to discuss putting a slowdown on the aging clock and to even out your skin tone. It’s about repair and protection. I really do care. Focusing on your skin is my biggest priority.
~Dr. Andrea Tse