When you turn thirty your body doesn't do what it used to. You find you can no longer stay up as late, watching films and eating junk. The mornings after these bacchanals would always end with me nursing a headache and hating myself. In addition to the regular woes like I-slept-badly-so-now-my-neck-hurts-itis, and I-sat-in-an-airplane-so now-my knees are always killing me syndrome, I have to now contend with my face never going without a pimple. In addition to this perpetual pimple, I have to contend with purple, brown blotchy blemishes that are left in its wake which of course will take their time to fade. This is a problem I never had in my early twenties. In order to deal with acne and hyper-pigmentation I have dug into the vast literature that the interwebs have provided. Here is what I learnt:
There are three kinds of acne scars- P.I.E, P.I.H. and Atrophic scarring.
P.I.E or Post Inflammatory Erythema is characterised by red spots left behind due damage to the capillaries which can be caused because of acne. It affects people of lighter skin tones and when left untreated it can become P.I.H.
P.I.H or Post Inflammatory Hyper-pigmentation is caused from an overproduction of melanin. It can result because of acne, hormones, pregnancy or sun exposure. Indians have darker skin tone because of more Melanin in our skin so most acne red marks tend to become hyper-pigmentation. So any inflammation to the skin like acne marks, bug bites or rashes the skin responds by producing more melanin in that area to protect it. Hyper-pigmentation or Post Inflammatory Pigmentation is the easiest to treat.
Atrophic Scars are indentations left on the skin after an acne break out. P.I.E and Atrophic scars will need you to visit a dermatologist for laser treatment.
Below are some of the ways one can help fade acne marks as a result of hyper-pigmentation:
Use Sunscreen: A pimple is like a wound, and in order to protect the skin the body over produces melanin in this wounded area. The result is hyper-pigmentation called Hyper Inflammatory Pigmentation or PIH. So sun exposure aggravates the acne scarring. To prevent this please use a sunscreen of at least SPF 30, broad spectrum. I would suggest the Make Prem UV Defence Me Natural Sunscreen 50 SPF PA+++, the Avene Very High Protection Sunscreen Emulsion SPF 50, Cetaphil Daylong Sunscreen 50 SPF PA++++, Missha All Around Safe Block Mild Sun SPF 30, Clinique Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50.
Vitamin C is your friend: Vitamin C helps block abnormal pigment production. It also helps in skin brightening and protects your skin against the sun. It fades sunspots and reduces sun damage. A Vitamin C serum of at least 20 percent would most aid in the reduction of hyper-pigmentation but if you’re new to adding vitamin C in your skincare regime you can start off with a smaller percentage. You can try Drunk Elephant C Firma Day Serum, Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin C drop, The Pure Vitamin C serum by Wishtrend.
Use AHAs: Products with AHAs help sun damage by increasing cell turnover and speed up skin renewal. They also help shed dead skin cells. Try The Ordinary’s peeling solution, The Ordinary’s Glycolic Toner, Some by Mi Miracle Serum, Mandelic 5% Skin Prep Water by Wishtrend.
Skin Brightening ingredients: Niacinamide and Alpha Arbutin are skin brightening agents that help fade acne scars and pigmentation. Niacinamide also has anti aging and rejuvenating effects while Alpha Arbutin is a melanin inhibitor which means it reduces the production of melanin. Licorice root extract is also said to have these properties. Niacinamide 10%+Zinc 1% by The Ordinary, Alpha Arbutin 2% by The Ordinary. Try the Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin E Mask after using the Vitamin C Serum by Klairs, they work well together.
Retinol is also said to be good for treating hyper-pigmentation but I have not started using it and I don’t think I know enough about it to recommend it to anyone.
Natural ingredients like aloe vera, tomatoes can also be used because they both help in repairing sun damaged skin and are good for fighting acne.
I hope this information helps. Those with more serious forms of PI.H, P.I.E or Atrophic scarring should visit a dermatologist. Remember that everyone’s skin is different and what worked for me might not work for you. Do not expect immediate results and be consistent with your skincare regime.
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