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The colour of our skin is made of three components – melanin, collagen, and vasculature (blood vessels). The yellow in skin tone is imparted by collagen, and the pink shades by the vasculature.

Most pigmentary disorders, however, are associated with excess melanin. Melanin is a brown pigment produced in the skin by special cells called melanocytes. Under the influence of sunlight (UV) and hormonal factors, melanin levels can become uneven across the skin, resulting in blotchiness, brown spots, and more seriously, cancer.

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Cosmetically, the most common pigmentary presentations are melasma and Diffuse Sun-related Hyperpigmentation (DSH). Melasma is a condition, which usually occurs in younger women, and is influenced by both solar radiation and hormones. DSH is seen more in women over the age of 30, and presents as large slightly ash-brown areas that appear obvious in strong light and gives the forehead a dull, lifeless appearance. Melasma and DSH are caused by skin pigment cells (melanocytes) producing excess pigment (melanin).

Pigmentation around the eyes

The fragile skin around the eye is prone to freckling and other pigmentary abnormalities. Topical Vitamin B3 (niacinamide) is the gentlest approach to correcting this pigmentation. In some cases a prescription hydroquinone may also be prescribed by a doctor, who will advise on the correct therapeutic strength to avoid redness and irritation.

A serum containing niacinamide and undecylenoyl phenylalanine helps to fade pigmentation around the fragile eye area.  Regular application of anti-inflammatory zinc oxide high SPF, broad spectrum sunscreen is also crucial in pigmentation reduction.  Careful, light exfoliation with a Skin Refining Serum two to three times weekly can help shift pigmented cells from around the eye.

For on-going skin maintenance, our experienced staff can provide a tailored treatment plan.

Hormonal Pigmentation

Hormonal pigmentation or Melasma is due to the overproduction of melanin by the pigment cells called melanocytes. It can lead to considerable embarrassment and distress. The cause of hormonal pigmentation is complex, but there are several triggers including sun exposure, pregnancy or hormone treatments, including the oral contraceptive pill.

Aspect Doctor’s Complete Pigment Serum is a powerful skin brightening formula that may reduce the look of unwanted discolouration by as much as 25% in just one month, thanks to the inclusion of Tyrostat 11, a patented, chemical free skin brightener from the North Canadian prairies. You can purchase Aspect Doctor’s Complete Pigment Serum from Skin Institute’s online store or by visiting one of our clinics.


Treatment of both these conditions involves:

  1. Melanin inhibitors (compounds that prevent the melanocytes producing melanin).
  2. Sunscreen (used every day).
  3. Time (cosmetic treatment over 6-12 months).

Topical niacinamide has been shown to suppress the distribution of pigment from the cells where it is made, to the regular skin cells. Niacinamide is an extremely effective and gentle long-term maintenance therapy for pigmentation and can also be used in conjunction with hydroquinone to enhance the initial treatment process. It should be used daily under sunscreen.

At night, regular use of a Vitamin A compound called retinaldehyde helps to inhibit pigmentation, by blocking pigment – stimulating enzymes.

Sunscreens are vital in the prevention of pigmentation, because solar radiation is essential in initiating pigmentary changes. The most effective sunscreens for preventing pigmentation contain Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide. Layering different kinds of sunscreens provides maximum protection from UV light.

Other intensive short-term therapy courses can also help fast-track the reduction of your pigmentation. Options include Vitamin A peels, prescription-only retinoic acid/hydroquinone creams, IPL (Intense Pulsed Light), and other laser modalities.

Why Skin Institute?

Feeling confident and looking the best you can are things we all aim for. Skin Institute has over twenty years of experience in skincare, and we pride ourselves on keeping at the forefront of developments in appearance medicine. Our expert teams are helping Kiwis across the country show the world their best face – and you could be one of them.

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