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Not Fair: Hyperpigmentation and sunscreens for darker skin tones

May 13th 2014 / Ayesha Muttucumaru Google+ Not Fair: Hyperpigmentation and sunscreens for darker skin tones


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Should you wear sun cream even if you have a darker skin tone? Find out the expert's opinion on sun protection and hyperpigmentation

Do people with dark skin still need to wear sunscreen? It seems to be a common misconception, but many people that I’ve met seem to think that we don’t, or if we do, that we needn’t wear as high a factor as those with lighter skin tones. But is this the case?

I asked Dr Vanita Rattan, consultant aesthetician for Pharmaclinix to set the record straight and for her perspective on hyperpigmentation: a problem which seems to be more of an ageing concern for those with darker skin tones than even wrinkles are.

From prevention to cure, make sure you don’t step outside without reading this first...

Should people with darker skin tones still wear sunscreen?

“Yes, absolutely,” says Dr Rattan. “The melanocytes (cells that produce the pigment, melanin) become hyperactive with UV sun damage. This leads to darker patches on the skin and unevenness. It is essential to wear SPF50 to protect skin against this.”

What factor and level of protection of sunscreen is best?

“I’d always recommend SPF50 from 16 years old onwards, especially with darker and more sensitive skin types.”

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What are the best sunscreens for darker skin tones?

“The one I use is Sun Blockex SPF50 from PharmaClinix, £39.99 as it is invisible, so makeup can be worn as usual,” explains Dr Rattan. “Some others on the market are Riemann P20 SPF50+, £24.99 and Heliocare, £25.”

A vigilant SPF wearer since my teens, it's fair to say that I've been around the sun block quite a few times. My favourites are the water-resistant La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL SPF50+, £17.50, Chanel UV Essential SPF50, £41, for face and Clarins Sun Care Milk-Lotion Spray SPF50+, £19 which smells amazing too!


What are the main causes of pigmentation in darker skin tones?

“The key causes of hyperpigmentation are acne, sun damage, hormonal (during pregnancy and menopause), trauma, laser burns and scars,” says Dr Rattan.

Dr Rattan’s hyperpigmentation product pick

PharmaClinix Lightenex Gold Serum, £74.99, is an excellent de-pigmentation product that helps to calm the melanocyte. It’s particularly great for thick, dark patches of skin such as knees, elbows and underarm areas and should be worn with a SPF50 cream for optimum results.”


Which treatments are best?

The Hyperpigmentation Clinic specialises in treating hyperpigmentation, especially in darker skin tones where it is most common," says Dr Rattan.

“The treatment calms down the hyperactive melanocytes and increases cell turnover, so there is less time for pigment to seep into the cells above, as well as removing the top layer of dead pigmented cells.

"The treatment reduces hyperpigmentation by about 50% after one treatment and also improves the overall complexion of the skin by closing pores, ironing out superficial wrinkles and smoothing out the skin too.”

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