Get that flawless complexion
Pigmentation marks on skin can mar your beauty. Experts tell Debarati S Sen how to deal with them.
A spotless cream-and-peaches complexion is what we all would love to have but pigmentation, sun spots and freckles can mar it. Cosmetic physician Dr Jamuna Pai explains, "Our skin gets its pigment from melanin that is made by the body and determines the colour of your skin, hair and eyes. An over-production of melanin shows up as brown patches and spots."
The causes Dr Rashmi Shetty, cosmetic physician says hyper-pigmentation is caused by both intrinsic and extrinsic factors. She says, "The intrinsic cause stems from imbalances in the hormone levels and is very difficult to treat."
The external factors include excessive sun exposure, wounds, skin treatments and procedures that might not suit one's skin and anything that stimulates the increased production of melanin (substance that gives skin and hair its colour).
Dr V L Shyam, MD in ayurveda says, "Every minute movement inside a cell is governed by vata and it plays a role even in the migration and accumulation of the melanin pigment. Bhrajaka Pitta governs the colour and complexion of the body and so hyper and hypo pigmentation can happen due to an imbalance of both the vata and the pitta."
The main reasons for hyper-pigmentation are:
Sun damage - Brown spots or dark patches appear from too much melanin being made and coming to the skin surface as a protective mechanism.
Hormonal changes - Pregnancy, menopause and sometimes oral contraceptive pills can cause pigmentation.
Injury PIH (post inflammatory hyper-pigmentation) - The body's response to injury is inflammation which triggers melanin production and the result are brown spots and patches. Some examples of PIH are acne scars, insect bites, cuts or abrasion, post laser treatments, post peels, fixed drug reaction.
One can opt for topical applications, skin peels or non ablative treatments, but all should be under medical supervision and strict sun protection say experts. Suggests senior cosmetic surgeon Dr Mohan Thomas, "Daily skin cleansing is essential so, wash your face at least twice a day using oil and alcohol-free formulas. Exfoliate three times per week; apply the exfoliator in circular motions to all affected areas, normally the nose, forehead and chin. The exfoliation encourages a newer, smoother skin surface by helping to unclog pores, prevent further breakouts and diminish blemishes and pigmentation spots."
Dr Pai says, "Some very good and safe lightening agents are Vitamin C, Retin A, etc. These exfoliating agents, when used regularly exfoliates dead cells and speeds up the growth of new skin thereby lessening the pigmented patches."
Made from naturally occurring acids found in fruits and other foods, alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) peels are popular and so are lactic acid ones from sour milk, citric acid and glycolic acid, from sugar cane. Trichloracetic acid (TCA) peels and Beta-hydroxy peels(BHA) are also used.
Microdermabra-sion, high-intensity pulsed light therapy and laser resurfacing are the machine treatments that help.
Dr Shyam says, "We first find out which energy is in imbalance ? the vata or the pitta. And then the treatment begins by balancing them both." He advises drinking plenty of water, having fruits, legumes, eggs, garlic and onion. Dr Shyam adds, "Manjishta or (rubia cordisolia) when taken internally or externally helps combat pigmentation."
Treat pigmentation on your face
A mixture of lemon juice and honey can be applied on the face. This acts like a bleach. Apply a mixture of yoghurt, honey and cucumber juice in equal proportions and leave on for 15-20 minutes.
A simple remedy for this is to apply ghee or castor oil on lips. Both of these elements balanced the vata and the pitta. Another recipe that works is a mixture of almond oil with glycerine, honey and rose water.
For underarm pigmentation
This happens due to allergic reactions and applying a paste of mint (pudina) leaves on the areas for ten minutes will help.
This area of the face has the most delicate skin. You can apply tomato juice and a pinch of turmeric powder. Apply slices of cucumber and potato and leave it on for 15 to 20 minutes.
(Inputs by Dr V L Shyam, MD in Ayurveda)
Simple tips to be followed daily
- Avoid exposure to direct sunlight between 9am-4pm.
- Regardless of the SPF (sun protection factor) apply generous amounts of sunscreen at an interval of three to four hours.
- Wear sunglasess, broad rimmed hats and loose clothes.
- Use light coloured clothes that deflect the rays of the sun in summer.
- Take nutritional supplements of Vitamin C and anti-oxidants.
- Hydrate yourself by drinking at least two to three litres of water daily. A dehydrated skin is more prone to hyper-pigmentation.
- Avoid colour cosmetics like 'blush-ons' and fragrances like lavender, as these absorb UV rays and can cause hyper-pigmentation.
- Balance social habits, especially smoking, as that increases the free-radical content and thus further adds to the pigmentation.
- Preserve your biological rhythm by following a healthy life-style which should includes exercise in some form, adequate hours of sleep in a regular pattern.
(Inputs by Dr Jamuna Pai, Cosmetic physician)
Hide them with makeup!
If the pigmentation mark is deep and is like a birthmark then it can be covered by concealer. There are foundations available in around nine to ten shades in popular brands which not only cover blemishes but also have a skin-lightening effect. Some brands have mineral powders, a light dusting of which help in hiding blemishes. There are also concealers available in four to five shades that are great for complete coverage of marks and are also good for dermalogical problems and even for tattoos. (Inputs by Clint Fernandes, Make-up expert)
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