Skin blemishes: how to treat them effectively

Skin blemishes can be combated through a multi-active daily routine.

Discover the most effective routine for tackling skin blemishes

Skin blemishes are patches of skin where the pigmentation is different. The most common types, which appear on the face or the back of the hands, are darker than the surrounding area and are described as hyperpigmented dyschromia.

They are generally caused by excessive production of melanin, the pigment which determines our natural skin colouring (complexion). Sometimes, this is deposited unevenly (i.e. it spreads vertically rather than horizontally) in restricted areas of the skin.

Skin blemishes can either be LOCALISED, such as age spots, for example, usually with a round/oval form, limited area and regular outline; or EXTENSIVE, like melasma, which is more sprawling with irregular boundaries.

The appearance of skin blemishes or dyschromia is an increasingly common cosmetic problem: the areas affected by uneven skin colouring can be eye-catching and make the complexion dull and irregular, causing distress.  

How can you treat brown skin blemishes?

The treatment of dyschromia or brown blemishes must be tailored to suit the type of blemish, localised or extensive. It must also be borne in mind that this treatment always takes some time, as its effects are only visible after the completion of the skin’s normal renewal process, which lasts about 4 weeks. Moreover, any treatment must be combined with adequate protection of the skin from UV rays.

Sometimes, not even cosmetic dermatology treatments can completely remove brown blemishes, making it more realistic to aim for a notable decrease in the visibility of the blemish and a more even, radiant complexion.
To achieve this, follow a 
specific daily routine which combines a variety of effects:

  • inhibiting melanin production and distribution
  • stimulating cell turnover to shed the surface layers of the skin
  • effective protection from UV rays

Bear in mind that any course of treatment for dyschromia must be strictly adhered to and must last for at least 4 weeks, as well as being combined with sun protection suitable for your phototype and the season: in fact, exposure to UV rays is the main factor which triggers and exacerbates skin dyschromia.

Fighting brown blemishes? Try a multi-active strategy

The skin’s natural colour is mainly determined by melanin, a pigment produced by specific cells — melanocytes — located in the bottom layer of the epidermis.
The process behind skin pigmentation (melanogenesis) is extremely complex, involving the transformation of an amino acid, L-Tyrosine, into melanin, after which it is distributed in the form of small granules from the melanocytes to the surrounding epidermal cells, in a horizontal fashion.
The result is an even, uniform pigmentation, determining a person’s complexion. Exposure to the sun stimulates melanocytes, which then work harder and produce more melanin to protect the skin, leading to tanning
Sometimes, various causes and mechanisms which are still not fully understood spur melanocytes to produce excess melanin, which tends to spread in a vertical fashion rather than horizontally, building up in certain areas and thus forming brown blemishes or hyperpigmented dyschromia.

To act effectively on a process as complex as melanogenesis by cosmetic means, it is necessary to use treatments formulated with different active ingredients in accordance with the principle of synergistic effects.
In fact, it is important to combine multiple substances to counter the process of melanin production and distribution and to favour the renewal of the epidermis.

A good multi-active strategy must, therefore, act in several ways:

  • Inhibiting melanin formation: some substances, including naturally derived substances such as Methyl gentisate, which is obtained from gentian root extract, act by countering the activity of the tyrosinase enzyme involved in the pigment formation process.
    • The most powerful currently known inhibitor is hydroquinone; however, this ingredient is prohibited under the European Union’s regulation on cosmetic products (Regulation EC No. 1223/2009), because it is not safe for use on skin
  • Inhibiting the movement of melanin in the epidermis: because the blemishes are formed by an accumulation of melanin, ingredients which can block its movement from the melanocytes to the epidermis (such as a specific Lipoamino acid called Undecylenoyl Phenylalanine) bolster the lightening effect of treatments
  • Stimulating the turnover of the epidermis: encouraging the regeneration of the surface layers of the skin through an exfoliating action results in an immediate lightening effect and a “fresher” appearance for the skin. The most common active substances used for proper exfoliation are: Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) and Polyhydroxy Acids (PHAs) 
  • Protecting from UV radiation: no depigmentation treatment can be effective unless combined with suitable sun protection. If you have a predisposition towards brown blemishes, or already have some, it is important to regularly use a sun cream with sun filters, even in winter

To learn in greater detail what dyschromia is, read our article: Skin blemishes: what they are, how they are caused and how to tackle them

Daily treatment against skin blemishes

Your daily depigmentation routine should always include at least 3 steps:

1. A cleanser with an exfoliating effect: this removes the surface cells, makes skin more radiant and prepares it for the following treatments
2. Daily protective treatment: this restores balance to melanin production, preventing the formation of blemishes and the exacerbation of any which already exist. It should have medium to very high UV protection, depending on your phototype and the season
 Intensive treatment: this varies depending on the type of blemish. For extensive blemishes, use a 
serum for evening out skin tone, or use a formula for more targeted application for localised blemishes. This is particularly recommended for use at night, in combination with a  hydrating product.

It can be very helpful to use corrective make-up with a camouflage effect to minimise the distress caused by blemishes: concealer can disguise the visibility of dyschromia, while foundation can cover up and even out your complexion.

To learn more about corrective make-up, read the article: Camouflage: what it is and how to apply it