Let's talk about Pigmentation!

Let's talk about Pigmentation!

Michael Wong

Learning about pigmentation and how to prevent it

 Written by Geelda Raoofi

Today we will be learning a bit about the different types of hyperpigmentation and what we can do to treat and prevent. What is hyperpigmentation? This is an over production of pigment. The opposite of this would be called hypopigmentation (lack of pigment). These are two of the most common pigmentation disorders. Hyperpigmentation affects 50%-80% of the population depending on your ethnicity, lifestyle, and the climate. Sun exposure is the biggest external cause of pigmentation disorders and can make existing pigmentation disorders worse.
Another thing that can cause skin pigmentation abnormalities is certain drugs. Pigmentation may be induced by a wide variety of drugs; the main ones implicated include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), phenytoin, antimalarials, amiodarone, antipsychotic drugs, cytotoxic drugs, tetracyclines, and heavy metals.

Hyperpigmentation appears in the following forms:

  • Ephelides: This is the medical term for freckles. We see this type of pigmentation a lot. Usually, people who have low melanin (substance in your body that produces hair, eye and skin pigmentation) are very fair skinned and prone to getting freckles. These lighter skin types are at higher risk when it comes to sun damage because they burn easily and do not tan. I personally deal with this and even when I apply sunscreen, I still get covered in freckles and never tan. It's really important to re-apply sunscreen when you are going to be out (especially when it's summer!). What else can you do at home to prevent this? Aside from daily sunscreen use, you can combine the use of Vitamin C in the morning with your sunscreen because they are a power combination. You can incorporate a retinol into your nightly routine (build up your tolerance until you are using it every night). Retinols chemically exfoliate your skin and help block the receptors that regulate how much pigment comes out of the skin. These following ingredients are great for lightening pigment: hydroquinone, arbutin, and AHAs (most common ones for evening out skintone include: Mandelic Acid, Kojic Acid, and Glycolic Acid)

  • Melasma: This is a type of hormonal hyperpigmentation that first appears during pregnancy or with the use of birth control pills. This type of pigmentation is often found on the forehead, cheeks, upper lip, and chin. 

  • Lentigo: This is a flat, pigmented area similar to a freckle (small, yellow-brown spots). A lot of people call these "age spots", as they are associated with aging skin.

  • Nevus: The medical term for birthmark. This is a malformation of the skin from abnormal pigmentation or dilated capillaries that is present at birth or appears shortly after birth.

  • Poikiloderma of Civatte: This is a skin condition caused by actinic bronzing (chronic sun exposure). Poikiloderma is benign, meaning it's not cancerous.

  • Post inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH): This is a darkened pigmentation due to an injury to the skin or the residual healing after an acne lesion has resolved.

  • Tan: Tanning is a change in pigmentation due to melanin production as a defense against UV radiation that damages the skin. A tan is basically visible skin and cell damage.

Now that we have learned about the types of pigmentaion most often caused by sun exposure, we can learn how to treat and prevent them. Depending on the type of pigmentation you have, it's always best to do a combination of things to improve skin texture rather than expecting to see major results from one thing. For example, some people might think that going to get a treatment will make their skin amazing with minimal to no effort at home. This is not true. What you do at home, what you use at home, and consistency is what will bring you the results you want to see. It's not something that happens overnight, and it will never be a one size fits all. Now that we have that part covered, let's get into the treatments and products..


Products we carry at AE.R that help prevent and/or treat pigmentation:


Vitamin C serums: 

  • SkinCeuticals: C E Ferulic - Dry, Normal, Combination, Sensitive skin types.
  • SkinCeuticals: Phloretin CF with Ferulic Acid - Normal, Oily, Combination skin types.
  • SkinCeuticals: Silymarin CF - Oily, Combination skin types.
  • SkinCeuticals: Serum 10 AOX+ - Sensitized, Acne, Aging
  • ZO: 10% Vitamin C Self-activating - All skin types.


  • SkinCeuticals: Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50 (tinted) - Dry, Normal, Combination, Sensitive skin types.
  • SkinCeuticals: Sheer Physical UV Defense SPF 50 (transparent) - Normal, Oily, Combination, Sensitive skin types.
  • ZO: Daily Sheer Broad Spectrum SPF 50 - All skin types.
  • ZO: Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 50 - Dry, Sensitized + Post-Procedure skin types.
  • ZO: Smart Tone Broad Spectrum SPF 50 - All skin types.
  • ZO: Sunscreen + Powder Broad-spectrum SPF 45(Available in Light, Medium, and Deep) - All skin types.
  • ZO: Sunscreen + Primer Broad-spectrum SPF 30 - All skin types.


  • SkinCeuticals: Retinol 0.3, Retinol 0.5, Retinol 1.0 - Normal, Oily, Combination skin types. Different strengths are available so you are able to gradually build up your tolerance.
  • ZO: Retinol Skin Brightener 0.25%, Retinol Skin Brightener 0.5%, Retinol Skin Brightener 1% - All skin types. Different strengths are available so you are able to gradually build up your tolerance.
  • ZO: Radical Night Repair 1% - All skin types. This is a high-potency retinol treatment. If you have not been using retinol, begin use gradually. The main difference between Radical Night Repair 1% and the Retinol Skin Brightener 1% is that this one contains high potency microencapsulated retinol and also contains Vitamins C, E and A, edelweiss and marrubium vulgare plant stem cells which provide antioxidant protection. Some of the ingredients differ between the two, so if you are tied between them- pick the one with more of the ingredients that you feel your skin needs. It also doesn't hurt to try them both (at separate times by finishing one and then getting the other afterwards) to see which one works better for you since everyone's skin needs and reactions are different. 


Other products that help brighten and even-out your skin while keeping it supple and moisturized: 

  • SkinCeuticals: Discoloration Defense - Dry, Normal, Oily, Combination skin types.
  • SkinCeuticals: Blemish + Age Defense - Oily, Combination skin types.
  • SkinCeuticals: Retexturizing Activator - Dry, Normal, Oily, Combination, Sensitive skin types.
  • SkinCeuticals: Resveratrol B E - Dry, Normal, Combination, Sensitive skin types.
  • SkinCeuticals: Metacell Renewal B3 - Dry, Normal, Oily, Combination, Sensitive skin types.
  • SkinCeuticals: Phyto A+ Brightening Treatment - All skin types
  • ZO: Daily Power Defense - All skin types.
  • ZO: Illuminating AOX Serum - All skin types.
  • ZO: Brightalive - All skin types.
  • ZO: Wrinkle + Texture repair - All skin types.
  • ZO: Rozatrol - Dry + Sensitized skin types.
  • ZO: Enzymatic Peel - All skin types.
  • ZO: Complexion Renewal Pads - All skin types.
  • ZO: Exfoliating Polish - All skin types.
  • ZO Exfoliation Accelerator - All skin types (especially good for oily).
  • ZO: Renewal Creme - Mildly Dry + Sensitized skin types.
It's really important to have a skincare routine that involves antioxidants not only during the day time, but night as well. There are a lot of products that are more effective when combined with another. For example, pairing your Phloretin CF with discoloration defense and then following with moisturizer + SPF to complete your day-time routine. Using a combination of ingredients to target your needs will give you optimal results.

Treatments we provide at AE.R that help with pigmentation:

  • Bela MD: There's three versions of this facial: microdermabrasion facial, customized, and lux. The main purpose of this facial is to mechanically exfoliate the dead skin cells, leaving the skin deeply hydrated and infused with powerful ingredients. Exfoliation can leave your skin looking brighter and improve the effectiveness of topical skin care products by enhancing absorption.  
  • Chemical peel: This treatment can help over time if the hyperpigmentation is related to sun exposure. The goal is the chemically dissolve the dead skin cells. This treatment is used to treat wrinkles, discoloured skin and scars.
  • Laser therapies: 
    Fractional resurfacing - This stimulates the body's natural healing process and encourages collagen production to replace sun-damaged and aging cells to give your skin a healthier, more youthful glow. The skin surrounding the microcolumns of heat is left untreated, which reduces risk and allows for a much faster recovery.
    Melasma face - Laser removal of pigmented lesions works by destroying the pigment in the skin without the need for excision. This specific treatment targets the melasma. This type of pigment is stubborn to treat, and this is why it's essential to get a series of treatments for optimal results.
    MicroLaserPeel & Fractional resurfacing - These two procedures use similar techniques and the same laser technology for removing layers of skin and allowing new skin and collagen growth underneath. The main difference between the two is the invasiveness and downtime that comes with it. Skin Resurfacing reaches deeper layers of skin, and the downtime is about 7-10 days. For people who have more superficial pigmentation and don't want as much downtime, the MicroLaserPeel would be a good option (downtime of 3-4 days).
    Fotona 4D - This well-known treatment is a 4 in 1. This treatment uses innovative, multi-laser skin resurfacing technology. Fotona’s Er:YAG and Nd:YAG wavelengths are applied in 4 different modes to work on a deeper, medical and superficial structures of the skin. This treatment will help tighten/lift, volumize, rejuvenate, and leave the skin glowing. Not only does it help with those things, but it also 
  • Microneedling: We offer Dp4 (pen) and Darwin (with radiofrequency). Microneedling is known to help improve the appearance and texture of your skin. It can minimize stretch marks, scars, wrinkles and other skin concerns. This treatment also does a tremendous job of lightening and reversing hyperpigmentation and sun damage. This is due to the power of collagen production and its ability to repair and restore your skin. There's some research that suggests that microneedling is the most effective therapy for sun spots. The main difference between microneedling and RF microneedling is that the RF adds radio frequency energy to the traditional microneedling technique in order to further stimulate the creation of growth factors. It also heats underlayers of the skin which further enhances skin tightening. After your consultation, you will know which one is the best option for you based on the condition of your skin and concerns.
  • PRP face (also known as vampire facial)When blood is placed into a centrifuge, it separates into three distinct layers: plasma on top, platelets and blood cells in the middle, and red blood cells at the bottom. PRP is derived from the center part, also known as the "serum portion". This treatment is great for acne scarring, fine lines/wrinkles (and other signs of aging), uneven skin tone and hyperpigmentation.


What can you do at home? 

  • Make sure you wear SPF 35+ every day through every season.
  • Don't spend long periods of time under the sun. If you do, make sure to protect your skin by wearing a face shield or hat. Re-apply sunscreen when you are outdoors and have areas of your body exposed. 
  • Do not pick at your skin. Some people are tempted to pick at the peeling skin after getting a treatment, but this can actually cause hyperpigmentation. During this stage, the best thing you can do for your skin is to moisturize more frequently and gently exfoliate the dead skin when the time is right. Keep your hands off your face in general.
  • Invest in medical grade skincare products because they are backed by science. They are more potent and have better quality ingredients, and have more advanced mechanisms to ensure optimum absorption and delivery in the deepest layers of the skin.
  • Look for ingredients that hydrate and brighten.
  • Look into your medications with your doctor if you believe it could be causing or worsening your hyperpigmentation.
  • Be patient, remember to stay hydrated, and include lots of fruits and vegetables in your diet. Skin health is never only an external thing.
Thank you for tuning in to learn about hyperpigmentation. If you have any questions about our products and treatments that peak your interest, feel free to call (604)262-4111 or email hello@aerskinlab.com to book a consultation.
All consultations from January 9th to February 4th are free along with a scratch and win card where you can win $28-$98 credit to spend or a Bela Lux Facial (Valued at $335) to celebrate the Chinese new year!