Hyperpigmentation—brown patches, marks, splotches—can be caused by excessive sun exposure, hormone imbalances, inflammation and injury to the skin. It most commonly appears on the face, neck and décolletage. Before you can treat your pigmentation, you need to know what type you have. Those with fair skin are more prone to sun-induced pigment and people with olive complexions can be more susceptible to post-inflammatory pigment. Women who are pregnant, who take the oral contraceptive pill, or who are on hormone replacement therapy or IVF are more likely to suffer from hormone induced pigmentation, aka melasma or chloasma. Hyperpigmentation will often appear as we become older as our melanocytes (the cells that produce pigment) increase in size as we age. Younger skin can be at risk of pigment from sun damage.

How can you treat uneven skin tone?

For early onset or minimal pigment, I like to combine low level, gentle peels with light therapy to gradually break down the pigment, brighten the complexion and unify skin tone.

A chemical exfoliant is the first step to complexion perfection. Look for one that is glycolic acid, lactic acid or citric acid-based and use it 2-3 times a week to slough off dead (and dulling) skin cells.

There are plenty of pigmentation fighting products that you can add to your everyday routine. Look for brightening serums that feature ingredients such as vitamin C, niacinamide, bearberry or liquorice extracts, and azelaic acid. Hydroxyphenoxy propionic acid. A non-toxic derivative of hydroquinone that helps fade the appearance of discolouration and improve uneven skin tone.

Sun protection - No matter what treatments you undertake, it’s imperative that you take sun protection seriously. Diligent sun protection is vital in managing all types of hyperpigmentation, this is where it starts. Progressive sun damage means earlier wrinkles and more of them, generalised collagen breakdown that leads to sagging skin, pigmentation that becomes increasingly more difficult to remove or minimise and loss of skin hydration. It’s a heavy price to pay for ignoring that simple single step in your daily routine.