We recently had the best weather for Easter weekend in UK. A high of 24 degrees and there were a lot of people out in park basking in the sunshine. I thought it was fitting writing this blog as we will be coming into summer very soon too and I want to help you minimise pigmentation in the sun.

This is particularly important for people prone to pigmentation like myself – whether your skin is sensitive, breaking out or you’re on medication that increases your pigmentation eg birth control pill, anti-epileptic drugs, Roaccutane or steroids. Pigmentation appears because the melanin (pigment) gets released onto the surface of the skin to protect your skin from UV rays. That’s how you normally get a tan. However if your melanocytes are unstable or if there is too much UV damage, the melanin released gets scattered in an uneven fashion, so producing darker areas i.e pigmentation.

Here are my top 7 tips for reducing pigmentation in the sun.

1. Apply an additional antioxidant cover BEFORE your sunscreen.

UV rays produce free radicals on the skin which can damage the DNA of the cells. By applying an antioxidant product, it will help absorb free radicals and fight against environmental pollution.

My favourites are:-

  • Vita C 24 hour cream by ph Formula – this formulation containing 4% Vitamin C is great if you’re new to Vitamin C or have sensitive skin.
  • Vita C Corrective Serum by ph Formula – lighter texture skin at 12%. Great for brightening the skin
  • Vitamin C + E Strength (15%) and Max (20%) by PCA Skin . Best if your skin is used to stronger active ingredients. Added Vitamin E helps to hydrate the skin.
  • Intense Defense Serum by Epionce. This is a great all rounder multivitamin for the skin containing botanical sources of Vitamin A,B,C,D and E. It also has photo protective properties and helps to repair the epidermal barrier.

2. Apply a melanin blocker

Another special ingredient I love is 4-Butrylresorcinol. This inhibits the production of melanin by suppressing tyrosinase synthesis and activity, an important pathway of making melanin i.e pigment. It also stimulates the synthesis of Gluthathione Reductase which protects the cells from oxidative stress. This is the key ingredient in MELA Serum by ph Formula which I love. You would apply this FIRST before your Vitamin C serum.

3. Apply a second layer of sunscreen before you leave the house

This tip was shared by an admired tertiary dermatologist (meaning he sees complex cases referred by other doctors), researcher and founder of Epionce skincare, Dr Carl Thornfelt.

Apply your favourite sunscreen eg Ultra Shield Lotion SPF 50, wait for 30mins before applying a 2nd layer before heading out the house. If you’re not sweating, wiping or swimming, the protection could last you up to 8 hours.

Ps: Don’t forget to apply sunscreen on your neck and chest if you want to avoid age spots and premature ageing.

4. Carry your favourite sunscreen in your bag

This tip is shared by one of my girlfriend who’s Korean and obsessed with her skin care and looking youthful. Reapply sunscreen after every time you have a meal which makes sense as you can easily wipe the sunscreen around your mouth. This is particularly important if you want to avoid getting a darker area above the lip looking like a moustache or worst around the mouth looking like a monkey. She carries her sunscreen in her handbag and whips it out every time at the end of our lunch meet-up.

5. Avoid being in direct sunlight for too long

This sounds common sense but we often forget especially when we’re enjoying a little bubbly with our picnic or barbecue that we forget that we’ve been out that long.

If you’re staying out in the sun for more than 2 hours, you want to reapply your sun screen. Make sure you wear a wide brim hat and sunglasses when you’re out to protect your face.

Try your best to avoid mid-day sunlight as it’s the highest position and causes the most damage to the cells. Better times are early/mid morning and mid/late afternoon.

6. No skin resurfacing treatments at least 2 weeks before

I LOVE Skin Resurfacing treatments e.g. skin peels, radiofrequency, lasers or Microneedling. They are great for treating scars, pigmentation, reducing pore size and improving the texture of the skin.

However after skin resurfacing treatments, there is a period of skin repair and we recommend patients to stay away from direct sunlight because the skin’s more susceptible to UV damage. So before you go on a sunny holiday or expecting a sunny weekend where you will be out entertaining or enjoying the gorgeous weather, plan your skin treatments carefully so you don’t get into trouble.

Depending on how deep the skin Resurfacing treatments are, I would recommend a 2-4 weeks breathing space. Make sure you let your practitioner know so she can plan it with you.

7. Using Retinol appropriately.

Retinol at low concentration e.g 0.01% is a powerful anti-oxidant and helps to protect the skin from free radicals e.g. UV rays and pollution.

Retinol at higher concentrations is more stimulating and aims to encourage skin turnover, improving skin texture, reducing pigmentation and wrinkles.

Saying that, if you have NEVER used retinol before, I would advice you NOT to start before the hotter months as your skin typically require a period of getting used to this active ingredient and may be sensitive after using it.

If you are on a higher concentration, I would recommend dropping the concentration so it is less stimulating and more protective for the skin.

I hope these tips are useful. If you require help sourcing the products I’ve recommended above, please let me know via email [email protected] or social media.

If you would like a personalised skin plan to protect your skin for the summer months, you can do so via a virtual skin consult with me. Please contact [email protected] for more details.

Until the next time, here’s to enjoying the sunshine while keeping your skin looking good.

To your best self.

Dr Terry