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Many people will agree that Asians are especially concerned about dark spots and pigmentation.

However, you’ll be surprised to know how little you may know about this skin concern that so many people talk about. For example, many of us mistakenly believe that skin hyperpigmentation is a natural condition that comes with age (it isn’t!)

We dig for the truth behind the most common myths we’ve heard about skin pigmentation – read on to see what’s real and what’s not!

Myth #1: Certain skin colours are more prone to hyperpigmentation

Pigmentation Myths Certain Skin Colours Are More Prone To Hyperpigmentation

Ever heard people saying that certain skin colours are more prone to developing dark spots and uneven skin tone?

This saying is actually real, and unfortunately, it does not work in our favour: people with darker skin run a higher risk of developing hyperpigmentation because they’re more sensitive to factors that can cause or further develop hyperpigmentation, such as sun exposure.

Considering that many of us in Singapore are not as fair as our Caucasian counterparts and are often exposed to the sun, we are at a fairly high risk of getting dark spots and pigmentation even earlier than we expect.

Myth #2: Hyperpigmentation is genetic and cannot be prevented

Hyperpigmentation Myths Hyperpigmentation Is Genetic And Cannot Be Prevented.

We know that genes play a huge role when it comes to determining our skin type, so it makes sense that skin pigmentation is an inevitable condition passed down by your parents, right? Nope, not true at all!

While you may be genetically susceptible to brown spots such as freckles, it doesn’t mean that you absolutely cannot prevent the onslaught of dark spots and pigmentation.

Pigmentation is actually caused by three main factors, namely genetics, sun exposure, as well as the natural process of ageing that occurs on a daily basis. Exposure to pollutants, stress, cigarette smoke, and harmful chemicals are also environmental stressors that accelerate ageing.

Although you can’t stop natural ageing, you can take steps to prevent the other factors of pigmentation, including daily use of sunscreen and maintaining a skincare regime that tackles possible signs of pigmentation as early as possible.

Myth #3: Hyperpigmentation only occurs with age

Hyperpigmentation Myths Hyperpigmentation Only Occurs With Age.

Most of us see pigmentation as a serious problem when we grow older, but the truth cannot be farther from that.

Hyperpigmentation is not something that only occurs when you grow old – if you are frequently exposed to the sun or environmental stressors, you will find yourself struggling with dark spots and pigmentation as early as your twenties!

There are also other types of hyperpigmentation that are caused by changes in the body that we do not have much control over:

  • Hormonal changes: Hormones may trigger melasma, a skin condition that leads to small patches of skin discolouration, especially during pregnancy.
  • Inflammation: Dark spots can develop after a bout of inflammation on the skin. Inflammation may be caused by other underlying skin problems, including eczema, psoriasis, injury to the skin, and acne.
  • Wound healing: Dark spots may remain after an insect bite, burn, or cut heals, and these tend to fade faster in time.
  • Irritation: Especially common in those with sensitive skin, cosmetic or hair products can irritate the skin, causing dark patches to form.

Myth #4: You must use lasers to remove skin pigmentation

Hyperpigmentation Myths You Must Use Lasers To Remove Skin Pigmentation.

If you ask for recommendations on how to treat skin pigmentation, chances are that most people would recommend that you go for a laser treatment.

So, is it really the only way to effectively remove hyperpigmentation? Fortunately for us, this is more myth than fiction.

Many clinics and beauty spas heavily advocate the use of lasers as a “one-stop” solution to treating all sorts of pigmentations, but even professional aesthetic doctors would have you know that this is incorrect.

Very often, over-the-counter products can tackle common pigmentation issues like melasma, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, and sometimes even freckles and solar lentigos very well. Coupled with adequate sun protection measures, you’ll be surprised to find how effective this simple combination is in treating pigmentation!

Myth #5: Frequent exfoliation can cure my hyperpigmentation

Hyperpigmentation Myths Frequent Exfoliation Can Cure My Hyperpigmentation.

The logic behind this myth is that exfoliation is often touted as a solution that removes dead skin cells for brighter skin, so it should work to brighten your dark spots as well.

The answer to whether this myth is real? Both yes and no.

Exfoliation is indeed beneficial for breaking up the pigmented cells to allow them to fade. Combined with a skin-lightening agent like alpha arbutin, exfoliation will help to accelerate the fading process.

However, it is also possible that exfoliation can go the other way and cause pigmentation to occur instead! If you over-exfoliate, it may actually trigger more melanin production in your skin, resulting in a condition called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

In addition, exfoliating your skin increases sun sensitivity and makes your skin more vulnerable to the sun – if you don’t slather on enough sunscreen, you’re causing more pigmentation to form instead!

Myth #6: Eating certain foods can cure my hyperpigmentation

Hyperpigmentation Myths Eating Certain Foods Can Cure My Hyperpigmentation.

It sounds fantastic that eating your favourite foods can cure skin pigmentation, but a general rule of thumb is that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t true.

While eating certain vegetables or fruits can’t magically make your dark spots go away, it is possible to craft a diet that prevents hyperpigmentation from occurring, particularly pigmentation that occurs due to exposure to the sun.

According to dermatologist Dr Murad, one of the most effective foods to eat for combating sun damage is pomegranate, which is beneficial in increasing the protective abilities of sunscreens. He also recommends patients suffering from hyperpigmentation to eat foods such as broccoli and spinach as they are a good source of antioxidants with anti-inflammatory properties.

If you’ve got your sun protection down pat but still notice dark spots forming with age, consume more carrots, sweet potatoes, and oranges – these are packed with Vitamin A and Vitamin C, both of which help restore collagen and in turn improve the appearance of dark spots.

Myth #7: Effective hyperpigmentation treatments must be expensive

The Effect Series Alpha Arbutin

While most people think that it takes expensive products and medical procedures in order to effectively remove hyperpigmentation, the truth is that you don’t actually have to fork out a lot of money – not if you know the right products to use!

A key ingredient to look out for in over-the-counter skincare products is alpha arbutin, which can effectively whiten disturbing discolourations caused by acne, ageing, or sun exposure, as well as inhibit melanin production. In fact, this ingredient is considered by dermatologists to be one of the most advanced natural ingredients in skincare and has also been shown to work well on all skin types and skin tones.

One of the most effective hyperpigmentation treatments in the market that uses alpha arbutin and won’t burn a hole in your wallet is The Effect Series’ Alpha Arbutin 2% Whitening Serum.

The higher concentration of alpha arbutin (most others offer a standard 1%) drastically improves the appearance of liver spots, age spots, uneven skin tone, acne scars or any other pigmentation spots, and promises a pigmentation-free complexion that doesn’t need coverage to shine.

Despite the high concentration of alpha arbutin, you don’t have to worry about this heavy-duty product resulting in over-exfoliation – the effect of the key ingredient is ingredient is inhibiting skin pigmentation, rather than exfoliating dead skin cells.

No harmful chemicals, colours, parabens, sulfates, and perfumes are added to the formula either, so even those with sensitive skin can effectively treat their pigmentation without breaking the bank!

Alpha Arbutin 2% retails at SGD29.95 on The Effect Series website.

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This article is brought to you by The Effect Series.