There are limited options for treating hyperpigmentation in the NHS.
This clinic will advise you of what these options are, in addition to the wider range of options available privately from this clinic, which are described further down this page.
Before making a skin care consultation, it is recommended that you read this page to help you to get the most out of the appointment.
It is recommended that to get the best results you have a consultation at the clinic so that your current issues are clearly identified and any factors can be taken into consideration including your age, whether you are planning a pregnancy, medical history, allergies, medications and skin care practices.
The plan will be tailored for you and you will be expected to check in with your progress with photographs or face to face.
There are a range of solutions available, and the plan can always change the approach to fit your circumstances.
It can take several months before you see results, which is why this clinic encourages you to check in regularly with photographs, face to face or virtual consultations.
Preparing the skin with the right products is key. Results may vary and some forms of hyperpigmentation are more difficult to treat than others.
What is Hyperpigmentation?
Hyperpigmentation is the darkening of an area of skin caused by increased production of melanin and its incorrect distribution.
Melanin gives us our skin colour. Darker skinned people have more eumelanin, lighter skinned people have more phaeomelanin. Melanin is produced by special cells called melanocytes in the basal (bottom) layer of the epidermis.
Melanin helps to protect the skin against the effects of the sun such as skin cancer and premature ageing. It is our natural sunscreen
What are the different types of hyperpigmentation?
- Brown spots – which vary in size and are usually on the face, hands, shoulder and arms – those areas exposed to the sun. More common in adults over the age of 50
- Melasma – a common skin condition of adults in which light to dark brown or greyish pigmentation develops – mainly on the face
- Freckles – Flat tanned circular spots that may develop on sun exposed skin after repeated exposure to sunlight
Are certain skin types affected more?
In the lighter skin types, this is most often seen as freckles and age spots.
The incidence and severity of Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH) is much greater in patients of a darker skin colour. For the darker skin types uneven pigmentation is a tell tale sign of ageing rather than wrinkles.
In all cases exposure to the sun will increase the effects.
What are the causes of hyperpigmentation?
There are many different causes. The more common are listed here:
- Melasma (exact cause is unknown – but worsened by Ultraviolet light (UV), contraceptive)/freckles/lentigenes – UV induced
- Chloasma – hormone changes
- Disease – Addison’s disease, Cushing’s syndrome, haemochromatosis – even cutaneous lymphomas
- Medication – amiodarone, minocycline
- Post inflammatory hyperpigmentation : acne/chemical peels/ lasers – any form of injury
- Even environmental pollution!
How can the clinic help?
Depending on the cause and other factors such as skin texture, options include:
- Using medical grade skin care at home, or in the clinic (chemical skin peels)
- Injectable treatments such as Platelet Rich Plasma or Belotero Revive
- LED Light Treatment (Dermalux)
You will be advised to use the recommended sunscreens available from this clinic
Treatment will take several months and results may vary.
There are a range of different price options.
At home programmes can be supplemented by peels in the clinic. If a rapid cosmetic result is needed, the clinic is able to provide a specialised skin camouflage service. You will always be advised to use a physical sunscreen ongoing to prevent the pigment returning (Examples are at the bottom of this page).
This is a topical treatment generally recommended following a period of skin preparation to get the best results.
The active ingredient is cysteamine. Naturally present in human skin cells, cysteamine regulates melanin synthesis in the skin.
Significant depigmenting effectiveness. Highly biocompatible and well tolerated. Non-cytotoxic, non-mutagenic, non-carcinogenic Superior benefit/risk ratio compared to hydroquinone.
16 week programme of daily use initially.
Zo Skin Health range
This is a luxury brand and is usually recommended first line for lifelong skincare at this clinic. A key change to skincare habits is ‘Getting Skin Ready ‘ where you cleanse, tone and exfoliate.
This exclusive range has protocols for mild and moderate pigmentation which have several ingredients in the range to tackle ageing too which includes retinols.
Zo Skin health Brightening Peel can be started immediately once a week for a month to kick start the process if the issue is primarily pigmentation. A Brightalive accelerated serum can be added to the package to use at home starting the day after the treatment.
The Obagi Blue Peel Radiance may be offered beforehand if there are also texture issues.
BRIGHTALIVE® serum accelerated is technologically advanced skin brightener clinically proven to increase luminosity, visibly improve skin clarity and fade the appearance of dark spots for a brighter, more even complexion. Non-hydroquinone and non-retinol
Helps to fade the size and intensity of dark spots
Improves luminosity, clarity and overall skin quality
Soothes red + irritated skin
Delivers lightweight hydration
Mild, gentle formula
Intelligent peptide drone – Precision-driven encapsulated peptide aids in fast onset of skin brightening, helps to minimize the relapse of pigmentation, and improves skin clarity
Tranexamic Acid – Helps to mitigate UV-induced pigment formation without irritation or sensitivity
Niacinamide – Form of vitamin B3; helps to reduce the appearance of uneven skin tone + supports skin’s barrier function
Papain – Enzymatic exfoliator helps to gently purge existing brown spots
Beta glucan, liquorice derivative – Help to calm + soothe skin
NeoStrata Enlighten range - home treatments
The Neostrata Enlighten range is a daily skin care regimen consisting of potent formulations that work together to promote bright, even skin tone.
Enlighten products are formulated with highly active brighteners. Butyl Resorcinol, Kojic Acid and Vitamin C to help reduce the appearance of existing pigmentation and discourage new spots from forming.
NeoGlucosamine works with brightening agents to increase exfoliation and fade the look of existing skin discolourations.
Neostrata Prosystem AHA Peels
The Neostrata ProSystem Skin of Color Photodamage Clinical Facial Peels are specifically designed to target concerns in skin of colour such as uneven pigmentation and texture.
The Prosystem Brightening Peel may be used alone for those new to peels. It is suggested that products from the Neostrata Resurface Range are used for a period of at least 2 weeks beforehand to acclimatise the skin to the peel. After the peel products from the Neostrata Restore Range should be used.
The Neostrata ProSystem Melasma Clinical Facial Protocol addresses pigmentation with Alpha Hydroxy Acid Peels that are effective in evening skin tone and offer flexibility and control within the procedure, providing a measure of safety in this population that is prone to re-pigmentation if irritation develops.
Epidermal Melasma responds best to superficial peels. Dermal Melasma is resistant.
The Definesse Lightening Peel is a mild peel, run over 3 treatments, each a month apart.
It is indicated for for uneven skin tone, minor photodamage and skin imperfections from contraceptives. It can also be used for: localised hypermelanosis, melasma (chloasma) from contraceptives, melanotic pigmentation, pregnancy or contraceptives,
marks caused by photo-ageing in addition
to the indications for Definisse™classic peel.
Obagi Nu Derm and Obagi-C Rx. Hydroquinone options for moderate to severe pigmentation.
The Obagi Nu Derm programme is a 24 week programme involving the use of prescribed 4% hydroquinone.
The Obagi C-Rx has both hydroquinone and vitamin C derived components.
Both systems come in normal/dry and normal/oily. The regime usually requires addition of a prescribed retinoid for the skin in the evening.
The Obagi Blue Peel Radiance peel is a salicylic acid based peel that can be used to complement this programme.
Peel2Glow - affordable luxury
Zo Skin Health Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 50
Provides UVA/UVB, HEV and IR-A protection.
Soothes skin and minimizes inflammation
Offers ideal solution for sensitive skin, severe acne and post-procedure care.
Available to buy following a consultation
Zo Skin Health Sunscreen + powder Broad- Spectrum SPF 40 (International SPF 30)
Light-weight, on-the-go powder sunscreen provides buildable,
long-lasting coverage and protection from damage caused by UVA/UVB and HEV light
Contains oil-absorbing properties and light-reflecting particles, reducing unwanted surface oils and providing a luminous, matte finish
Soft, unique brush design allows for a smooth application and effortless air-brushed result.
Available to buy following a consultation in light, medium and deep skin tones.
Zo Skin Health Sunscreen + Primer Broad- Spectrum SPF 30
Provides UVA/UVB, HEV and IR-A protection
Offers firming peptide
Doubles as a makeup primer with a universal tint
Available to buy following a consultation
Neostrata Defend Sheer Physical Protection SPF 50
Contains: Titanium Dioxide, Zinc Oxide, Iron Oxide, 4% PHA/Bionic Complex, EGCG Green Tea Extract, Vitamin E
This lightweight, translucent fluid is formulated with all-physical filters, Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide, to provide broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection and defend against UV damage, along with a PHA/Bionic Complex to help preserve skin’s natural collagen and firmness. Potent EGCG Green Tea Extract, Lactobionic Acid and Vitamin E work to neutralise free radicals and help preserve healthy DNA. Oil-free, fragrance-free. Non-comedogenic, non-acnegenic.
Available to buy following a consultation.