Firstly, how well do you know your skin? Do you know that we can classify and define different skin types like different personalities?
Before we dive into the topics of skin care and pigmentation, let’s see explore what is the 16 types of skin is all about.
The Baumann Skin type system is a skin-type classification system defining 16 skin personalities. In a short summary, these are the things to note of :
Dry vs Oily :
It determines the amount of sebum produced by your skin. Dry skin usually have lesser sebum, lesser acne whereas oily skin usually experience more acne.
Sensitive/ Resistant :
Many people often complain to have ‘sensitive’ skin but what does sensitive skin means? Sensitive skin usually refers to the degree of inflammation of the skin. An impaired stratum corneum layer can lead to sensitive skin as this acts as a barrier towards allergens and pollutants. Once this layer is impaired, the person may experience some slight tingling sensation, redness or burning sensation. Resistant skin have strong stratum corneum which acts as a protective barrier.
Wrinkled/ Tight: Does the skin has the tendency to wrinkle? Well, it may be due to current or past lifestyle habits that includes sun exposure or smoking cigarettes. So try to adopt a healthy lifestyle and put loads of sun block!
Pigmented/ Non-pigmented :
This is a measure of how easily a person develops pigments. Usually, ethnic skin develops pigmentation quite easily and this can be triggered by a few factors.
Pigmentation is one of the biggest woes for Asians. Soft, fair and smooth skin is the ideal type of skin for most Asians. Too often, we doctors will be plagued by questions like :
‘ Dr, if I don’t do lasers, can I use this skincare to lighten up pigmentation?’
Well, yes and no. It will depend on what are the type of ingredients that you’re applying!
So when it comes to skin care and pigmentation, it is important to note that we have to protect our skin from harmful UV rays and we need the right ingredients to lighten the pigmentation and prevent it from forming.
Confused about all the ingredients and products? Well, that’s the reason why we started out this blog!
Anyway, before we go on, I would like to have a short introduction on the science behind how pigmentation is formed. Of course, it is much more complex but I’ve summarized it. Well, look at this infographic below.
There are many chemical pathways on how pigmentation is formed but this is the most common pathway and majority of the active ingredients inhibits this pathway.
Hydroquinone is often used to lighten pigmentation. However, this requires doctor’s prescription as it has side effects such as ochronosis (Ochronosis is the bluish black discoloration of certain tissues) if it is used for a long time.
This is also one of the ingredients commonly found in unregistered skin care products. Many patients tend to have good results after using these skin care products but later on find that they have more stubborn bluish pigmentation which caused more misery ! Hence, this is also a reminder to check if your skincare products are registered before using them!
Usually, when it comes to patients with history of using unregistered ‘skin lightening’ moisturizers, I tend to go more conservative and not prescribe hydroquinone for them. Instead, I would prefer recommending Cyspera.
So, what is Cyspera?
Cyspera is the product name of a new pigment corrector. The active ingredient is cysteamine. Breast feeding mummies might find this name familiar because… you guess it right , it’s commonly found in breast milk!
Cysteamine is natural antioxidant found in our body which helps to protect our cells from free radical damages and it is also able to inhibit tyrosinase enzyme!
But I have to say… this is a curious little thing. It has a distinct smell which smells a little like hair dye and to apply it, one must not wash their face before applying !
In the past 50 years, Cysteamine is proven to be effective in lightening pigmentation but due to the offensive odour, it wasn’t available commercially. In the recent years, with advanced technology, the scientists were able to remove the offensive odour and it is much more acceptable.
How to use it?
To see results, one must apply it once everyday for at least 8 to 16 weeks. It is reported that after 12 weeks, there is significant pigmentation correction with 77% reduction and 90% of users were very pleased with the results.
For maintenance phase, it is recommended to use twice weekly , once a day.
Certainly, with products, one must be patient. Pigmentation is often trying and requires a lot of patience for it to clear up. But fret not, there are actually many ways to improve this problem and one of it is by using the right skin care.
Along with Cyspera, you can also consider active ingredients like Kojic Acid or Vitamin C.
Vitamin C is also another potent antioxidant which is able to protect the skin against harmful environment stressors and inhibits tyrosinase enzyme too. Besides that, did you know that Vitamin C is also required for collagen synthesis? Vitamin C is a huge topic of its own and will require another blog post.
I hope you have learn a little something from this blog post. I shall write more on other treatment modalities to lighten pigmentation. Stay tuned!