Pigmentation explained: Everything you need to know

Dark spots, age spots, sunspots – what IS pigmentation? We explain your uneven complexion and suggest our solutions for clearer, brighter skin.

  • Causes of hyperpigmentation (HP)
  • Freckles
  • Age spots
  • Post Inflammatory HP (PIH)
  • Melasma
  • Other Conditions
  • So how can Rose-NV help to treat HP?
  • Epidermal HP
  • Dermal HP
  • Hormonal HP
  • Topical Treatments
  • Rose-NV products to help
  • Natural Tone
  • Wipe away the years cleansing Milk
  • Ionic Sonic

Causes of hyperpigmentation (HP)

Hyperpigmentation means your skin produces too much melanin. Melanin is the pigment that colours your skin, hair and the iris of your eyes. It comes from the Greek term meaning “dark.” Melanocytes are cells that actually create the pigment particles. Melanosomes are little vesicles, or capsules, that hold the melanin and carry them to various parts of the skin.

There are two basic causes of HP. Not surprisingly, both involve melanocytes, which are the pigment producing cells in your skin.

1. If the melanocytes increase the amount of melanin they produce, this is called Melantotic HP (melan-tot-ic)
2. If the melanocytes make the same amount of pigment but the NUMBER of melanocytes are increased, this is called Melanocytic HP (melano-cy-tic). Both conditions lead to increased melanin.
HP is further classified by WHERE this excess pigment is: If it’s in the outer layer it’s called Epidermal HP In the middle it’s called Dermal HP. There are many different types of HP…here are some of the most common.


Everyone is familiar with freckles but I bet you didn’t know that they are technically called (ephelides) e-fel-i-deeze. These are melantotic which means your skin has a normal number of melanocytes but they produce more pigment. And the more you are exposed to the sun, the more freckles you’ll get and the darker they’ll become. Also, freckles are kind of the cute version of skin HP.

Age spots

Age spots are formally known as Solar Lentigines (len-tij-in-eeze ) and they are small brown patches on the skin. As the name implies, they are caused by sun exposure. These used to be called “liver spots” because they were associated with liver problems that occur as you age. Lentigines are melanocytic which means they are caused by the creation of MORE melanocytes. While these are triggered by sunlight, once they’re formed they pretty much stay stable in their colour even if you get more sun exposure.

Post inflammatory HP (PIH)

This is skin darkening that occurs because of skin injury or trauma. As part of the healing process, the melanocytes kick into high gear and produce more pigment. These spots may become darker if exposed to sunlight. Two examples: dark marks from acne. Have a zit, which is infected, the trauma causes the “scar.”
Do you know another area of the body that’s prone to PIH? Armpits! Shaving your pits causes some micro trauma, which triggers melanin production. Many people complain about dark armpits. Even rubbing of clothing against armpits can cause this.


This causes brown to grey-brown patches on the face. Most people get it on their cheeks, bridge of their nose, forehead, chin and above their upper lip. It’s caused by sun exposure but may be triggered by hormones so you can get it due to pregnancy or taking a contraceptive pill. In fact, it’s so common that it’s called “the mask of pregnancy.”

Other conditions

Acral melanosis usually located on the acral areas of the fingers and toes. It is mostly seen in new-borns or during the first years of life. Not very common. Tinea versicolor – typically occurs on the chest and it is caused by yeast growing out of control. It is one of the most common skin diseases in tropical and subtropical areas of the world.

So how can Rose-NV help to treat HP?

For each of these conditions, treatment depends on WHERE the pigment is.

Epidermal HP – The good news is that most common types, like freckles and age spots, are epidermal so you have several treatment options here at Rose-NV. Having sold contraception and menopausal medication for 10 years and experienced Melasma myself,

For Dermal HP – Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do. Not much helps with this except for certain lasers. If you don’t go for the laser treatment the only alternative is basically to cover it up.

For Hormonal HP – I know quite a bit about the effects of this. I always review your history and hope to help reduce any hormonal causes of pigmentation.

The other treatments are:-

  • Topical treatments – creams and lotions
  • Abrasive methods – Which I do not offer such as chemical peels.
  • More invasive methods such as our Crystal Clear Microdermabrasion

Topical treatments – creams and lotions

I must mention the 2-5% Hydroquinone topical cream because it is the gold standard for treating pigmentation. You can only get it by prescription and it takes several months to take effect.

There are many skin lightening creams and lotions on the market but I am limiting this message to what we have to offer here. The Crystal Clear product ‘Illuminate’ is useful to work along-side Hydroquinone.