Hyper-pigmentation is one of the most common complaints from women. Did you know that it is not only caused and activated by the sun but also by heat? This alarming truth is one of the reasons hyper-pigmentation and dark spots are so stubborn and challenging to get rid of.

So what actually happens?

Patches of skin become darker in color due to excessive melanin, the pigment that produces skin color. Types of hyperpigmentation include sunspots, which result from cumulative sun exposure; melasma, which arises primarily in women due to hormonal causes; and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, which arises from an injury or insult to the skin. While these conditions are conventionally treated with toxic topical agents such as hydroquinone, natural agents may also be helpful in managing them.

“Plant-derived agents such as alpha arbutin, kojic acid and birds of paradise have been found to be beneficial in lightening the appearance of the skin and evening its coloration,” says Dr. G!

Heat is also a culprit! Heat whether outside or inside increases vasodilation, which is the dilation or widening of blood vessels. This causes more redness to appear, particularly in areas of melasma. Heat can also lead to inflammation and stimulate melanocyte pigment production. While UV sources like the sun are defiantly enemy number one, there are many other triggers. Hyper-pigmentation can occur from heat sources like overhead LED lights, a BBQ grill, a hairdryer or the temperature in a hot yoga class. Wearing an SPF daily along with an environmental anti-pollution serum and dark spot corrective treatment will help combat many of these.

How to properly protect and treat:

The Best Thing You Can Do For Your Skin: The process of exfoliation is a lot like peeling away the dry, outer skin of an onion to reveal the living layers beneath. Whether the exfoliation is done using mechanical abrasion or a controlled chemical reaction, removing dead and damaged skin cells on the surface allows the fresh new skin underneath to become visible. This newly exposed layer of skin feels much softer and smoother. Its surface reflects light better, making fine lines and other small imperfections harder to see. Age spots and other areas of unwanted pigmentation are less noticeable because the dead skin cells containing the pigment have been removed. Exfoliation unplugs clogged pores and allows for the release of natural skin oils. Regular exfoliation also helps to maintain open pores, decreases pore size, and minimizes many types of superficial scarring. In addition, removing the top layer of dead and damaged cells allows other health-promoting agents such as moisturizers, antioxidants, and collagen-boosting ingredients to better penetrate the skin and work more effectively.

As a bodyguard:

Not only does your skin shield your insides from ultraviolet radiation and other forms of physical damage, it also carries a powerful defense system that seeks out and destroys any foreign invaders that manage to get through. When you consider that every square inch of your skin can be covered with millions of micro-organisms, you can understand how vital this is.

Look at your skin as “in defense” during the day. Integrate antioxidants into your AM regimen.

The nutrient, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of the polyphenols found in antioxidants that span across tea, fruit, plant derivatives, have been scientifically proven to combat the effects of photo-aging.  Cumulative exposure to the ultraviolet rays of the sun produces free radicals that can damage the sensitive lipids, proteins and DNA in your skin cells. This UV-induced damage to your skin can result in gradual loss of tone, wrinkling, discoloration, increased redness, and even cancer. Topical treatment with antioxidants has been shown to help prevent the DNA damage that leads to skin cancer and to support the general health and long-lasting beauty of your skin.

Dr. Goldfaden’s advanced brightening and antioxidant serum help aid against the appearance of photoaging and free radical damage while leaving skin feeling hydrated and looking radiant. Stay protected.

Don’t forget SPF. Here are some of our clean favorites from Credo Beauty. 

Back acne (also known as, bacne) is a particular kind of hell. Unlike regular acne, it’s tough to tell if you even have it, and once you glimpse those spots and bumps in the mirror, it’s hard to treat it because it’s a total pain to reach all the way back there. The back area also is typically clothed so the skin can’t breathe as easily and sweating, exercise and not showering after, clogged hair follicles, over oil production, applying lotion that is too heavy and then sweating all add to the breakouts. We sat down with Dermatologist, Dr. Gary Goldfaden MD to learn more about what causes backne and what we can do to treat it.

What is the cause of back acne? Does it differ from facial acne?

You’re more prone to getting zits on your back vs. the face in general because those areas have high concentrations of hair follicles and sebaceous glands (glands that secrete an oily matter called sebum) which when clogged, causes breakouts. The skin located on the back is also very think and endures a different environment all together: back are area is also typically clothed so the skin can’t breath as easily and experiences conditions such as; sweat build up, wearing tight and restrictive clothing when exercising and not showering after which leads to clogged hair follicles, over oil production, and applying lotion that is too heavy and then sweating. 

What remedies do you suggest (both in diet and what you put on your body) to get rid of back acne?

Regularly exfoliating in the form of your products or external brush/loofa can prevent blemishes and keep dead skin build up at bay, using a benzol peroxide treatment to kill off acne-causing bacteria, wear loose-fitting clothing, shower immediately after working out (or use a wipe to clean skin if an immediate shower is not an option), and maintaining a healthy diet (stay away from sugars, alcohol, complex carbs and incorporate leafy greens, fruits, grains and lean protein) is key to a clear back. 

Are there any acids we should use to help clear back acne or any specific ingredients we should look into?

Similar to the skin on your face, the rest of your body also needs regular cleansing and exfoliation to renew its surface and draw out pore-clogging impurities and because the skin on the back is tougher and thicker than the face, more aggressive products can be applied.  This is a good opportunity to use any facial products that contain lactic, salicylic or glycolic acid as these exfoliating acids cleanse deep into your pores and allow the bonds between dead skin cells to break down and let go. 

Are there any body care ingredients we should steer away from? (For example, any extra bath oils or having a bubble bath). 

Stay away from using heavy lotions and oils in products that can lay flat on the skin and promote build up. It’s important to also use fragrance-free detergents too as the skin can get irritated from the detergents on the clothing. 

Anyways to prevent back acne?

Dry brushing or using a loofa regularly is a great way to treat back acne and keep breakouts at bay. By brushing/exfoliating skin, it works to remove dead skin cells and increases circulation overall. Wash and change your sheets often and try working in a probiotic into your diet to regulate your pH levels. 

WHAT IS HYALURONIC ACID?

Hyaluronic acid, also known as hyaluronan, is a clear, gooey substance that is naturally produced by your body; it’s found in virtually every tissue of your body. The largest amounts of it are found in your skin, connective tissue and eyes. Its main function is to retain water to keep your tissues well lubricated and moist (aka, the ultimate plumper). Hyaluronic acid is an ideal moisturizer because it can attract and retain 1000 times its own weight in water (a feat unmatched by any other substance in nature). “The volumizing effect it has on your skin adds vital fullness that can minimize facial wrinkles and create a smooth appearance.” Dermatologist, Dr. Gary Goldfaden

WHY DO I NEED IT?

Hyaluronic acid is found in great abundance in youthful skin, the cumulative damage caused by free radicals drastically depletes these hyaluronic acid reserves (on average, a person. As a key ingredient in your skin’s extracellular matrix, it plays a significant role in maintaining moisture, plumpness, and softness.

WHO SHOULD USE IT AND WHEN TO INCORPORATE IT INTO MY REGIMEN?

We all strive for that youthful appearance and that’s exactly why Hyaluronic Acid has become such a popular ingredient in skin care for all ages as it’s never too early to start using products that contain HA — in fact, just a single gram can hold supposedly hold up to six liters of water, and research suggests it can help protect against environmental aggressors like pollution, too. Best of all, it works for every skin type — especially in serum form, where it can be more easily absorbed and work its skin-plumping magic at a deeper level.

Hyaluronic acid works exceptionally well alongside other protective ingredients like antioxidants – in particular vitamin C so look for serums containing both (like Dr. Goldfaden’s Brightening Elixir) or layer them up, waiting a few minutes in between each application to allow the product to settle.