May 4th 2016
Beyond skin deep: the holistic approach to hyperpigmentation
June 17th 2015
From how to eat your way to more even skin to the beauty essentials that actually deliver, here’s your go-to guide for addressing dark circles, sun spots and hyperpigmentation from the inside out
When it comes to smart skincare, we’re big believers that an inside out approach works best in both the short and long-term.
Hyperpigmentation, sun spots and dark circles are no exception to the rule, so we sought the help of the professionals for their top tips when it comes to fortifying our makeup bags, skincare regimes and kitchen contents with the ingredients needed to make a tangible difference.
From the best concealers and the handy makeup tips needed to ensure we’re getting the best out of them to the best foods for glowing skin, here’s how to give your hyperpigmentation artilleries an expert-approved helping hand for reducing and preventing the signs effectively.
Sun spots and uneven skin tone
The main causes
A particularly prevalent skin complaint in pale and light skin tones, the appearance of sun spots can be due to a range of different causes. “These can be sunburn, the ageing process in general and repeated sun damage to the skin,” explains top makeup artist and Get The Gloss Expert Ruby Hammer.
The most common skincare mistakes
When it comes to our skincare regimes, where are we going wrong? “A common mistake is not using sun protection to prevent the damage in the first place,” explains Ruby. “Damage can occur even on cloudy days. The skin needs to be repaired and then protected against future damage. In the meantime, cosmetics can be used to hide the existing damage.
“I recommend using sun protection with an SPF of at least 30 and applying it underneath makeup, reapplying it when sweating and after swimming on holiday. Make it a habit,” she cautions.
The best sun spot-saving skincare
Origins Mega-Bright Skin Tone Correcting Serum, £49: The right skincare formula starts with the right foundations and this silky, lightweight and fast-absorbing face serum makes for an easy way to help tackle both existing and future pigmentation. “Use daily to even out your complexion gently,” advises Ruby in order to achieve a brighter more radiant complexion over time.
Crème de la Mer The SPF 30 Protecting Fluid, £65: Prevention is better than cure when it comes to good skin and this anti-ageing sunscreen provides an supercharged shield of SPF protection against both UVA and UVB rays, with zero chalky residue in sight.
The best makeup for an even, uniform base
Tom Ford Traceless Foundation SPF 15, £62: Luminous, healthy skin in a bottle, this nourishing foundation gives skin the perfect lift. “It gives the skin coverage without appearing heavy,” comments Ruby for a natural looking, radiant finish.
Bobbi Brown Creamy Concealer Kit, £24.50: “This is great for correcting and concealing your blemishes,” says Ruby. Its compact packaging makes it perfect for on-the-go touch ups too and the sheer setting powder that accompanies the creamy concealer makes for a redness minimising finishing touch.
The best food fixes for tackling uneven skin tone
UV protective Vitamin E: “Eat more vitamin E rich foods like raw sunflower seeds, olives, papaya and boiled greens like Swiss chard, spinach and mustard greens,” recommends nutritionist and Get The Gloss Expert Emma Olliff. “This is because foods high in vitamin E help keep the skin looking healthy because they protect it from harmful UV light.”
Anti-inflammatory Omega-3: “Consume foods that contain high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, tuna, halibut, flaxseeds, walnuts and raw tofu,” advises Emma. “Omega-3 fatty acids can help to reduce skin inflammation and keep cell membranes healthy. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids have also been shown to help those with sun sensitivity and psoriasis.”
Skin boosting berries: “Add regular servings of berries like blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, cranberries and strawberries to your diet,” recommends Emma. “Berries can help your skin look smoother, firmer and more supple because they help to produce collagen and they are extremely high in the antioxidants which can help to get rid of free radicals that damage the skin and lead to premature ageing.”
Radiance boosting vitamin A: “Eat vitamin A-rich foods like sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach, broccoli, apricots, asparagus, green beans, yellow corn, peas, eggs and beef liver regularly to keep your skin looking radiant and smooth,” says Emma. We’re adding them to our shopping lists as we speak...
The main causes
Although a skincare problem that affects a multitude of different ethnicities, dark circles are one of the biggest concerns for South Asian women in particular, (present company included). So what’s to blame? “Genetics first and foremost,” explains Ruby. “I’ve found that also lack of sleep and not drinking enough water to flush out toxins are contributing factors too,” she adds. "If you are genetically predisposed to have dark circles, start using an eye cream or eye gel earlier in life - don’t wait for the problem to show itself first. Prevention is the best form of protection.”
The most common dark circle concealer mistakes
A hard area to target from both from colour correction and shade selection standpoints, what’s the most common makeup mishap that we’re guilty of making? “Using a shade of concealer that’s too pale,” says Ruby, “This often ends up in the finished look looking too grey,” highlights Ruby. “You need to colour correct the area to get rid of the blueish darkness first using a peachy tone and follow this by using a suitable concealer on top.”
How to choose the right shade for your skin tone
“Trial and error,” recommends Ruby. “Test it on your face, not your hands, applying thin layers rather than one thick layer.
“Set it in place with a loose powder for extra staying power,” she adds. “The finish should appear hydrated and not dry and cakey - use an eye gel or eye cream so you’re able to get a better blend and finish. Finally, take your time to find the right products and when applying them too - you’ll achieve a better result overall if you do.”
The best dark circle fixers
Clinique Even Better Eyes Dark Circle Corrector, £30: “Effective skincare is needed to tackle the problem of dark circles on a cumulative basis,” advises Ruby and this clever little fatigue fighter makes for the perfect base. Created to protect against environmental assaults, help lighten the area over the time and come to the rescue of puffy eyes too courtesy of a handy cooling applicator tip, it provides a multi-faceted offense on tired-looking eyes.
Bobbi Brown Corrector, £19: Think of this as your secret weapon for covering dark circles like a pro. Containing peach undertones, rather than pink ones, it effectively neutralises the purple-brown colour commonly associated with eye darkness in olive, golden and tan skin tones.
Bobbi Brown Creamy Concealer, £19: Described by Ruby as, “A concealer that covers without a dingy or grey undertone,” this small but mighty even skin tone perfector is creamy enough to blend seamlessly, while also sturdy enough to stay put from dusk till dawn.
Can your diet help get rid of your dark circles?
Unfortunately, not a great deal. “I’m sorry to have to tell you that there is no miracle food to cure those dark circles under your eyes,” says Emma Olliff. “Dark circle culprits include genetics, allergies, sinus infections and nasal congestion, lower-eyelid laxity, fluid retention, hormone imbalances, hyperpigmentation, ageing and sun exposure. The skin’s thinness can also create the illusion of darkness. In the rare occasions where exhaustion or malnutrition causes dark circles, healthy foods might have a slight impact.
“Although vitamin-deficiency dark circles are uncommon, consuming vitamin C can strengthen blood vessel walls, inhibit the melanin-producing enzyme, defend cells from free radicals and rejuvenate the skin’s collagen,” explains Emma. “Strawberries, pineapples, grapefruit, tomatoes and raspberries are sufficient sources of vitamin C. Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, spinach, romaine lettuce, green beans, asparagus and bell peppers are also other sources.”
Scarring takes many different shapes and forms and how it manifests itself varies greatly from skin tone to skin tone. Usually more red in colour in lighter skin tones and deeper and darker in darker skin tones, there are now a multitude of different solutions at our disposal to tackle it both in the short and long-term.
“Aim to incorporate a regime that incorporates good skincare, good sun protection and good nutrition,” advises Ruby. “Massage your skin and book in for facials by experts to boost your home regime and encourage you to get into good habits."
Makeup tips for covering scars
Cosmetically, the answer lies in a multi-faceted approach incorporating both effective skincare and sharp makeup choices.
“Hydrate and keep the skin well moisturised so the scar and surrounding skin doesn’t get dry or flakey,” advises Ruby. “And don’t pick at it,” she adds.
“Use a light base all over the face, then concentrate on the areas that need masking by using a product which provides more cover on spots and scars,” she recommends. “Dab and pat it on, rather than rubbing it in and set with a sheer powder in a roll and pat motion gently.”
The scarring It kit
Crème de la Mer The Brightening Lotion Intense, £75: Designed to combat the look of dark spots and ashiness over time, while also enhancing the efficacy of your skincare products, this pre-regime tonic acts as a great first step for bolstering a hyperpigmentation artillery. “Used consistently, this will add luminosity to your skin,” says Ruby.
Estée Lauder Enlighten Even Skintone Correcting Creme, £46: “This works to even out your skin tone safely and gently,” says Ruby. With a rich yet lightweight texture that melts into skin, its hydrating cocktail of antioxidants and anti-irritants makes for a soothing, calming and moisturising morning treat.
Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer, £25: A great way to give your makeup some extra longevity, especially on areas of pigmentation and scarring, this primer holds the key to day to night durability. “It primes the skin to give your base of choice extra staying power,” explains Ruby.
Smashbox 24 Hour CC Spot Concealer, £20: For areas that require a greater level of coverage, this targeted cover up has just the formula. “A heavy duty cover for scars and blemishes, it allows you to pinpoint coverage where needed,” explains Ruby.
Estée Lauder Double Wear Foundation, £29.50: This is quite simply, one of our all-time favourite foundations for its range of undertones and natural, humidity-proof coverage. “It has a great long-lasting formula that disguises your problem areas without needing to reapply it throughout the day,” says Ruby.
Clinique Blended Face Powder and Brush in Invisible Blend, £23: Universally flattering on any skin tone, this versatile powder helps eliminate shine without making skin looking flat.
Foods to bolster your skin’s healing capacity
Rebuilding vitamin C: “Vitamin C is important for the health of your body tissues and muscles and it promotes healing and healthy development of your body's tissues,” explains Emma Olliff. “Vitamin C is essential in the healing of cuts and wounds and can also help protect you against infections as you heal. Sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits - such as oranges - strawberries, broccoli, tomatoes, kiwi, cabbage and strawberries.”
Protective vitamin E: “Vitamin E is essential in helping to protect your cells and body tissues from damage and also helps keep your red blood cells healthy,” says Emma. “Consuming foods that contain vitamin E can help promote the proper healing of your skin, which can decrease the size of your scar, making it less noticeable. Sources of vitamin E include nuts, seeds, egg yolks, wholegrains - including oats and wheat germ - and green leafy vegetables - such as kale and lettuce.”
Strengthening vitamin A: “Vitamin A is found in dark, green, leafy vegetables - including collards, kale and spinach. Vitamin A can also be found in liver, carrots, sweet potatoes and cantaloupe,” says Emma.
“Milk might be fortified with vitamin A - also known as retinol - to promote strong and healthy vision, skin and mucous membranes; milk also contributes to the healing of scars and wounds,” she adds. “According to ‘Alternative Medicine Review,’ vitamin A can help increase the strength of collagen - the protein responsible for building skin. Vitamin A can also stimulate the immune system and encourage prompt healing of scars.”
For a masterclass in the makeup tips and tricks and smart skincare for addressing sun spots, dark circles and scarring, check out our how-to video with Ruby Hammer below.
Written in partnership with Estée Lauder Companies.