When it comes to dull skin, it’s generally not what you see that’s the problem—it’s what you don’t see. Obviously what you see is unwanted pigmentation on the surface, but what you can’t see is the changes beneath the surface that rob skin of its vibrancy and glow. Treating dull skin has become one of our most passionate crusades because once the problem is recognized, treatment is simple, and the results are typically amazing.
We can use the analogy of a lake. If you look at a muddy lake with a lot of particulate matter, sunlight is absorbed and scattered rather than reflected off the surface, which makes the lake look murky and dull. When the lake is free of muddy particles, light is perfectly reflected throughout the water, giving it a clear and translucent appearance. Similar to a muddy lake, excessive pigmentation below the skin’s surface absorbs light and reflects dullness. When your skin is free of excessive subsurface pigmentation, your complexion looks younger, brighter, and more even toned.
Pigment distribution on the skin changes throughout a lifetime for a number of reasons, but there are generally three sources for the loss of uniformity and the appearance of unwanted marks or dark patches on the skin:
- sun damage in the form of brown or age spots
- hormonal changes in combination with UV exposure and/or heat in the form of melasma
- inflammatory processes called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation in the form of dark marks that follow healed acne or trauma to the skin
KNOW YOUR ABC'S
The sun emits three kinds of UV light: long wavelength UVA, medium wavelength UVB, and short wavelength UVC. The shorter the wavelength, the stronger the light. UVC radiation is absorbed by our atmosphere and never reaches the earth. On the other hand, the longer UVA and UVB rays do penetrate the atmosphere, and between the two they cause plenty of damage to our skin. As the ozone layer gets thinner, penetration by all wavelengths of UV light increases, resulting in earlier and more aggressive skin damage.
UVA = AGEING RAYS
UVA rays are commonly referred to as the “ageing” rays. They are the long rays that penetrate deep into the dermis, causing tremendous damage over time. They have the ability to destroy our collagen and elastin, causing wrinkles and sagging. UVA rays also stimulates our skin to produce more melanin, resulting in 'brown spots' and pigmentation on the face, hands, and chest—a true hallmark of aged skin. UVA damage compromises your body’s ability to repair itself and most problematically can potentially mutate your DNA, eventually leading to skin cancer in particular Melanoma.
UVB = BURNING RAYS
UVB rays are commonly referred to as the "burning" rays. They are the shorter rays that cause painful and visible sunburns. Additionally, UVB rays can also cause skin cancer. The cancers associated with UVB radiation are most commonly the nonmelanoma types, Basal Cell and Squamous Cell Carcinomas. These are the skin cancers that originate in the epidermis, the top layer of your skin, where the shorter UVB rays strike and cause damage. Because the burning effects of UVB radiation are so immediate and visible, not to mention painful, sunscreen technologies that protect us from UVB rays have advanced significantly since the late 1970s and are quite effective at blocking these rays.
Much of what we think as being the normal ageing process is really evidence of sun damage, an accelerated form of ageing. Your skin is exposed to UVA rays all year round in daylight hours, rain or shine, and even through glass windows. Over time, this repeated stimulation causes increased clumping of pigment beneath the skin’s surface in the areas that are most frequently exposed causing Hyperpigmentation.
PRODUCTS THAT HELP WITH PIGMENTATION
Exposure to the sun and the environment can leave you with dull and ageing skin. Whether it’s dullness associated with sun damage beneath the surface of your skin or obvious pigmented changes that are visible for all to see, it is best to treat your whole face to tackle any changes that may be beneath the surface. The approach is to exfoliate, brighten, and protect. The regimen we are about to recommend has proven time and again to make a real difference in the complexions of those who stick with it. Although it requires both patience and dedication, it can make you feel much more confident and can help you look years younger. Keep in mind that it is important to incorporate all the following steps, because as many of our clients have confirmed, any one treatment alone will not work effectively.
STEP ONE: EXFOLIATE
Removing dead skin cells helps to accelerate the turnover of the dead skin cells that contain excess melanin; clears the way for better absorption of active treatment ingredients; refines the skin’s surface for more even tone and luminosity. By using a cleanser that contains exfoliating properties, particularly those with gentle cleansing granules, alpha hydroxy acids, acetyl glucosamine, and retinol, it’s easy to incorporate exfoliation into a skincare routine.
STEP TWO: BRIGHTEN
Using a toner that contains brightening agents is an effective way to provide a rapid dose of highly effective brightening ingredients. These cosmeceuticals may be forms of vitamin C, plant extracts such as bearberry or liquorice, or ingredients such as retinol or kojic acid.
STEP THREE: PROTECT
Whilst treating skin for hyperpigmentation it is imperative that you protect it from further sun exposure. UVA radiation will continue to trigger more pigment to be released as you are trying to slow it down. A broad-spectrum sun protection containing zinc oxide, avobenzone, or Mexoryl is recommended to keep the unwanted pigment from returning. In addition, wear protective clothing when in the sun.
Below is the recommended skincare routine for treatment of pigmentation, sun damage and dull skin:
CLEANSE: Use a cleanser containing alpha hydroxy acids and micro beads to gently remove dull, dead skin cells for a smooth, fresh complexion. A multi-mechanism exfoliator simultaneously cleanses and refines discoloured, blotchy complexions while loosening old, dull skin cells. With a fresh, polished surface, the appearance of your skin is instantly brighter.
BRIGHTENING TONER: A toner containing a blend of Kojic Acid and Vitamin C will visibly brighten skin and gradually even skin tone. Salicylic Acid and Liquorice will help exfoliate skin and refine the skin's appearance for a more radiant complexion.
BRIGHTENING TREATMENT CREAM: For best results a treatment cream containing a combination of pure Vitamin C and Retinol to enhance brightening of the skin while diminishing the look of fine lines and wrinkles. These two formulations need to packaged separately and then blended to work as one to provide clinically tested skin tone evening and brightening efficacy. Kojic Acid and Liquorice further improve the appearance of uneven skin tone over time.
BRIGHTENING LOTION WITH SPF: We recommend a brightening lotion containing a complex of stabilised Avobenzone and colourless carotenoids, to provide SPF protection in an aesthetically elegant formulation. Vitamin E and Green Tea will also condition and nourish the skin, while Liquorice and Mulberry help to brighten dull skin.