Want an even skin tone without dark spots? Eco Diva’s Nicole Sherwin believes in treating hyperpigmentation holistically and with clean beauty products
Treating hyperpigmentation is not simple. Understanding what you’re dealing with is the first step to an even-toned skin. Eco Diva founder Nicole Sherwin believes in treating hyperpigmentation with holistic and clean beauty solutions.
We’ve all seen patches of darker pigmentation on the faces of others – and most likely on ourselves. Some are dark ‘butterfly masks’ that appear across the cheeks and nose, others are dark marks where the skin has been injured, while yet others are what the French called ‘taches de café’ – coffee splotches – that float up to the surface as our skin starts showing signs of aging.
These patches of pigmentation that are darker than our natural skin tone all fall under the blanket label of hyperpigmentation. They appear mostly on our forehead, lower jaw, around the eyes (especially in women of Indian descent), and on our neck and hands.
They have many different causes, and there are different types of hyperpigmentation. Knowing what you’re dealing with goes a long way to treating them.
What you need to know about hyperpigmentation
- Hyperpigmentation is not freckles. Freckles are genetic.
- We are not talking about skin lightening, which is the total lightening of the natural skin tone. The purpose here is to fade blotchy patches of excess pigment so that the natural skin tone looks even.
- The chief triggers of hyperpigmentation are exposure to the sun’s UV rays, coupled with sunscreens that contain chemicals that have adverse reactions on the skin (which triggers free radicals that damage the skin, inflammation, and female hormones).
- This skin condition can affect women of all ages and all skin tones. It’s one of our biggest concerns globally.
- Hyperpigmentation is most often a chronic skin condition that needs lifelong management.
The purpose here is to bring the skin’s [pH] levels back into balance so that the natural skin tone looks and is even, and clear.
Which type of hyperpigmentation do you have?
There are different types of pigmentation:
Hormonal pigmentation AKA Melasma
The tell-tale sign of hormonal pigmentation is the butterfly mask – where darker pigment occurs in symmetrical patterns on the forehead, cheekbones and along the jaw line.
Increased oestrogen levels can trigger it. For example, it is common in pregnancy, or when using contraceptive pills or hormone-replacement therapy (HRT), or you may have a hormone imbalance. Always check how your body is reacting to the contraceptive pill and HRT as this is a tell-tale sign of imbalance.
Melasma is one of the most difficult types of pigmentation to treat due to the multiple internal and external triggers that cause it. It can also be caused by leaky gut syndrome and uncontrolled inflammation in the body, or even be a combination of several conditions.
It is essential to use a safe sunscreen (preferably natural & chemical-free) daily to prevent the chemicals in sunscreen, together with the sun worsening this pigmentation.
Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH)
Have you ever noticed how the skin around an area that was injured is darker than before? This may fade eventually, but it is usually more severe in people with darker pigmentation, and one of the biggest concerns of women of colour.
This is caused by chronic inflammation of the skin due to injury. This could be due to acne, eczema, psoriasis, aggressive chemical peels, severe sunburn, wounds or irritation. It can also be caused by unsafe skincare or beauty products (containing harsh and potentially harmful chemicals)
Don’t be too aggressive in treatment, as this could cause even more pigmentation. Always adopt a self-love ritual when dealing with the healing of the body. Gentle, effective daily self-care is needed.
As we get older (forty plus), we start seeing the free-radical damage from our youth rising to the surface. This manifests as permanent dark marks on the temples, nose, cheeks and sides of the face, as well as our arms.
This is caused by the skin being out of its [pH] balance, unprotected sun exposure, using chemical-based sunscreens which damages and triggers inflammation in our skin. Living where we do, it’s often caused by repeated sun exposure, but even one case of severe sunburn can contribute to the condition.
Eco Diva’s holistic response to hyperpigmentation
Nicole believes that pigmentation problems should be treated from the inside out and the outside in.
The internal factors include balancing gut health, skin health, and hormonal health through diet and exercise and creating a balanced lifestyle. ‘The pigmentation you’re born with is a genetic situation. But if pigmentation problems develop later in life, there is always a solution. This may require a full consultation with me to introduce a shift in diet, in skincare and in emotional wellbeing,’ she explains.
‘As anyone familiar with the Eco Diva philosophy will know, our principles are all about balancing the [pH] of the skin and body. This is the to help tackle the inflammatory issues that cause hyperpigmentation,’ she continues.
“Treat pigmentation problems from the inside out and the outside in” – Nicole Sherwin, Eco Diva founder
What gives with inflammation?
Over the past couple of decades, inflammation has been increasingly highlighted as one of the key causes of disease and premature ageing.
‘In the body, a nutrient-poor diet that is high in acid-forming foods, heavy metal toxicity and/or environmental toxins is the main cause of inflammation,’ Nicole explains.
Nicole’s recipe for a balanced pH
- Eat a plant-based diet that is high in fresh fruit and veggies.
- Avoid any foods that cause inflammation to the entire system. Acid-forming foods include meat, sugar, gluten, alcohol, coffee and dairy. You should reduce (or preferably avoid) these, and you should follow an alkaline eating plan.
Treating hyperpigmentation outside in – the clean beauty solutions
‘When the skin’s [pH] is out of balance, all sorts of skin disorders or irritations – including hyperpigmentation – can occur,’ Nicole says. Be gentle with your skin in how you handle it physically and in the choice of skin treatments you choose, as harsh treatment can cause inflammation, which causes more pigmentation, in an ongoing vicious circle.
‘Eco Diva products are 100% natural, organic, vegan, and gentle,’ Nicole points out. ‘All the products in the range work to balance the skin’s [pH] levels through the use of 100 percent natural, superfood ingredients. These align with the molecular structure of the skin. They offer deep healing and a sustainable solution to bringing skin back to its natural health and glow.’
We have many testimonials about the effectiveness of our treatment programme from women and men who have seen a marked difference in their hyperpigmentation problems once they started using Eco Diva.
Good skincare practice for hyperpigmented skin
Gentle cleansing Using a mild, [pH]-balanced cleanser helps to prep the skin for the more active treatments that follow. We recommend our Natural Face Wash 200ml
Exfoliation is a must Skin cells take roughly 28 days to rise to the surface, where the dead skin cells form a protective layer, then they flake off.
As your inner and outer treatment regimen starts working, the old, hyperpigmented cells will be visible on the surface. Using a gentle exfoliator to encourage their sloughing off will speed up the natural process. We recommend our Ecofoliant Natural Skin Polish
Moisture A healthy skin is well-moisturised. This means it has a good barrier on the surface that prevents loss of water which allows it to function optimally. We recommend using our Natural Face Cream 30g daily. For more intense hydration, add Natural Hydrating Masque once or twice a week, especially in winter.
Feed your skin with good nutrients Natural Superfood Face Serum 30ml contains superfood vitamins to prevent and repair free radical damage. It contains vitamin-rich oils that offer anti-ageing, anti-irritant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-microbial properties. It also contains naturally occurring UVA + UVB protection.
Our refreshing Liquid Vitamin Hydra Mist 100ml to soothe and revive your skin throughout the day.
Sun protection It is essential to prevent further melanin stimulation by preventing UV damage every single day on your face and other affected areas. ALWAYS opt for 100% natural sun protection.
Nicole explains: Certain sunscreens contain chemicals known to cause hyperpigmentation. These chemicals react with the sun and create discoloration on the skin. Her tip: always use sunscreen with organic filters such as non-nano zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Or use products that contain natural UVA and UVB protection, such as all Eco Diva products. It is essential to prevent further melanin stimulation
Other pigmentation-inducing culprits
- Don’t spray fragrance on your skin in the sun. This could cause dark stripes down the side of your neck.
- Certain medications such as tetracylines, diuretics, Roaccutane, anaesthetics.
- Skin-care ingredients such as Oestradiol, oestrogen, genistein, black cohosh, chasteberry, hops, red clover, soy, wild yams.