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Face Pigmentation

Pigmentation is brown colouring due to a pigment called melanin.

Melanin causes dark patches on the skin which do not fade.

At Rejuvenate Face, we have several treatments to directly reduce and treat pigmentation, including bespoke chemical skin peels, topical skincare and medical needling.

Image by Chermiti Mohamed

What is skin pigment?

Skin colour results from melanin in the skin, produced by pigment cells called melanocytes. The colour of pigmentation depends on the location of melanin. Melanin at the surface of the skin is brown. Deeper melanin tends to be blue-grey.

What is skin tone?

Skin tone is often referred to as complexion, which is the surface colour of the skin.


The classification of skin colour and skin types is complicated and somewhat confusing. Perception of colour and skin tone is also highly individual and subjective.


An even skin tone looks healthier than one that is uneven. Improving skin tone can decrease perceived age by five years. Uneven skin tone also affects self-esteem, confidence and quality of life.


Treatments for uneven skin tone can unfortunately take up to 4 to 6 months.

What causes skin tone?

The surface colour of the skin is a result of many types of pigment in the layers of the skin. 


The main pigment in the deeper layers is haemoglobin, contained in red blood cells.


Melanin is the main pigment in the more superficial skin layers.


Melanin is not commonly present in the outermost layer, but this varies between ethnicities and hair colour.

Sunlight and skin tone

The skin colour change with UVA (grey) differs from UVB (brown). This is because UVA penetrates deeper than UVB.




UVA exposure results in immediate pigment darkening, which does not protect you from the sun! There is no redness.




UVB exposure causes immediate redness and a tan 2-3 days later.

Sunbeds and skin tone

A tan achieved from a sunbed (which uses UVA) does not provide the same protection as a tan from UVB.


This gives a false sense of security to people who go brown and is one reason tanning beds are so harmful.

What are the two types of melanin?

There are two types of melanin.


Eumelanin is brown or black, whilst pheomelanin is reddish yellow.


The amount of melanin in the skin increases with UV exposure.

Eumelanin protects the skin from sun exposure, whilst pheomelanin is toxic as it produces harmful free radicals. 


There is usually 75% eumelanin in the skin compared to 25% pheomelanin.


Eumelanin is the primary determinant of skin colour.

What is hyperpigmentation?

Hyperpigmentation is patches of skin that become darker than the rest.


Hyperpigmentation occurs when the skin produces excess melanin, the pigment that gives skin its colour.


Hyperpigmentation can affect people of all skin types.

What causes hyperpigmentation?

Skin most commonly becomes pigmented due to over-exposure to the sun rays or other light.


Types of light include UV, blue or infrared. Read our recent blog on sunscreens to find out more!

Other causes of hyperpigmentation are


Hormone treatment.

Inflammatory skin conditions.

Acne and acne scars.

Laser treatments.

Chemical peels.

Skin trauma.

Following allergic reactions.

Medication or drugs.


Hair removal.

Type of Face and Skin Pigmentation

There are many types of pigmentation, such as 


  • Ageing.

  • Melasma.

  • Post-inflammatory or PIPA.

  • Skin damage.

The colour of Skin Pigmentation

The colour of pigmentation depends on the location of melanin.


Melanin at the surface of the skin is brown. Deeper melanin tends to be blue-grey.

The Effects of Pigmentation and uneven skin tone

Having an uneven skin tone may lead to -


  • Embarrassment.

  • Social isolation.

  • Depression.

  • Anxiety.

Treatment for uneven skin tone and pigmentation

Fortunately, various treatments are available to treat uneven skin tone and pigmentation.

Unfortunately, treating skin pigmentation can be frustrating as it takes time.


Results are typically not seen for 16 to 18 weeks because it takes 40 days to renew the layers of the skin. That's 4 - 6 months.


In addition, it is normal for the skin to appear worse before it gets better.


This does not necessarily mean the treatment is not working, but it indicates that the pigment is rising in the skin, which is what we want.​

The treatment for pigmentation can be broken down into stages and steps.

The most important of these is preparing your skin beforehand, which takes up to 2 to 4 weeks. And it is fairly simple.

Without preparing your skin, your pigmentation may get worse.

Click here to find out more about each step.

Treatment stages and steps to treat face pigmentation

Step 1 - Lifestyle Changes

The first step is to make lifestyle changes, such as wearing sun protection.

Preventing further skin damage is essential to ensure the rest of the stages of treatment are not jeopardised.


  • Avoid sun, heat and light.

  • Wear hats or caps.

  • Avoid the sun during midday.

  • Using a daily tinted sunscreen.

It is important that this is maintained throughout.

Step 2 - Skin Preparation

Step 2 is to dampen down any inflammation in the skin.

It is now known that Inflammation is a cause and result of skin pigmentation. The pigmentation may worsen if inflammation is not addressed before the next steps.

Recommended skin care is fairly straightforward and includes



which repair the skin barrier.


Completing step 2, “conditions” or “prepares” the skin so you can tolerate the pigment-treating skin care products used in step 4.

This takes 2 - 4 weeks.

Step 3 - Protect the skin around your eyes

It is important to protect the delicate skin around the eyes when using products to reduce pigmentation as they can easily spread, for example, from a pillow at night.


It is recommended, therefore, to get into the habit of using a barrier repair eye cream during all stages of the anti-pigment regimen.

Steps 4 & 5- Pigmentation Treatment

Steps 4 and 5 use several pigmentation treatments, often in combination (step 4), including a retinoid (step 5), which can be found on our Pigmentation Treatment page.


The most commonly used is the Triple Combination Creams, which will be briefly described.


Steps 4 and 5 last three months or less if the pigmentation has resolved.

Step 4 - The TCC

TCCs are the most effective topical treatments for skin pigmentation. TCC remains the gold standard skin treatment for pigmentation and can take 12-16 weeks to work.


The first used contained a combination of 0.1% tretinoin, 5% hydroquinone (HQ) and 0.1% dexamethasone (a steroid). 


These all act together to eliminate each other's side effects. TCC can be usefully combined with cleansers and moisturisers.

Step 5 - Retinoids

Retinoids reduce pigment formation by several mechanisms and have a direct inhibit action on the pigment-producing cells (melanocytes).


They also cause loss of the surface skin cells and stimulate the formation of new cells underneath.


Retinoids are essential to Triple Combination Creams (TCC) as they reduce skin thinning otherwise associated with steroids.


Likewise, the steroids prevent skin irritation with the retinoid.


They are equally effective used alone and particularly effective in treating melasma.

See our recommended Retinoid and Retinol skincare range.

Step 6 - Pigment Maintenance Treatment

After three months, a maintenance skin regimen is recommended for at least four weeks.

This step can start earlier if the pigmentation has cleared before three months.

Recommended skincare for maintenance includes

PAR-2 blockers such as niacinamide.

Antioxidants such as vitamin C.

To get the best results and stop the recurring pigmentation, it is essential to continue with a tolerated retinoid, moisturiser, cleanser and sunscreen in a set regimen.


Adjustments to the cleanser may be necessary according to the tolerance to the retinoid.


Remember: there are no quick fixes for pigmentation, and all skincare ingredients require three months to work.

How we can help manage Pigmentation at Rejuvenate Face

We provide one-to-one support and advice for people suffering from pigmentation.

We also offer a variety of treatments, such as:

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