Health and Fitness

How to tackle post-sun pigmentation – The Irish Times

Uneven skin pigmentation is common for skin at this time of year, particularly if you’re older. Melasma is a particular kind of pigmentation — it’s common in pregnancy as hormones play a role in it, but also in summer when some of the melanin-producing cells in your skin may produce more melanin than others. It’s more common in people with deeper skin tones, or those whose skin tends to tan quickly with sun exposure. In summer, sun is usually the culprit and the result is a slightly patchy, sometimes mottled-looking pattern of darker pigmentation, usually on the face.

While uneven pigmentation on your face might make you a bit self-conscious depending on where it’s placed, it isn’t dangerous. It does mean that the darker areas of skin are more sensitive and reactive to sunlight, and people with melasma will often find that while pigmentation fades in winter, the same darker patches reappear each summer season. Unsurprisingly, like pretty much all skin issues, the number one thing you can do to help with pigmentation is wear a high-protection sunscreen every day. It helps minimise and prevent uneven skin tone.

Truly, if you’re not wearing sunscreen, anything else that you’re using on your skin is not going to improve pigmentation — it’s the single most impactful step you can take to prevent and improve it as well as maintain your skin over time. If your pigmentation doesn’t bother you, that’s great — like freckles, larger areas of pigmentation can give a face character. If that’s you, there’s no need for a treatment designed to actively lighten darker areas, unless you really want one, in which case I share two below. Regardless, SPF is essential basic skincare for everyone. If you have skin, you need SPF. Unprotected, prolonged sun exposure and sunbeds (just don’t — they’re a bad idea for anyone, ever) will infinitely worsen any pigmentation issues as well as issues like acne, so the best possible approach is to protect, treat (where needed) and be smart about sun exposure.

Bioderma Photoderm SPF50+ Tinted Protective Cream (€19 at pharmacies nationwide) is a nice, affordable option especially developed for skin with pigmentation issues. It doesn’t feel heavy on the skin.

Eucerin Sun Pigment Control SPF50+ (€21 at Boots) works to minimise pigmentation while protecting your skin from UV light, plus it’s non-congesting and plays well under make-up.

If you want a treatment product, Dermalogica Powerbright Dark Spot Serum (€99 at is a lovely daytime option that works to fade pigmentation over time — you’ll need to be consistent to get results, though.

When I want a heavy-hitting, problem-solving over-the-counter product, I always go to SkinCeuticals. The new Phyto A+ Brightening Treatment (€89 at with azelaic acid and alpha arbutin packs a serious wallop. Azelaic acid is a miraculously effective ingredient for retexturizing and brightening skin tone — I use it regardless of pigmentation and have seen noticeable improvement in the clarity, tone and texture of my skin. If your melasma isn’t responding to over-the-counter products or is impacting your quality of life, then it’s time for a GP or dermatologist visit.

Product of the Week

La Perla Luminous Eau de Parfum (from €65 at

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