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Are Your Clients in the Dark About Brightening?

By: Jennifer Linder, MD
Posted: January 31, 2013, from the February 2013 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

With millions of people seeking treatment for skin discolorations annually, it is no surprise that the professional skin care industry is overflowing with products that boast skin-lightening and -brightening benefits.

Hyperpigmentation is the result of melanin overproduction, either UV-induced, due to sun exposure and tanning beds; hormonally induced, due to melasma; or through post-inflammatory cutaneous trauma. Hyperpigmentation also can be a side effect of Addison’s and Cushing’s diseases, linea nigra, celiac disease and more.

Fortunately, there are many ingredients that are proven to be not only safe, but also quite effective at suppressing the production and deposition of unwanted melanin. Because age, lifestyle choices, genetics and the environment all play roles in the development of hyperpigmentation, choosing products that contain blends of several pigment-inhibiting ingredients instead of single-ingredient formulations will provide the versatility necessary to treat a wide variety of clients and types of hyperpigmentation.

Very rarely are conditions treated one at a time; for example, a client with rosacea may also have hyperpigmentation; an aging client may suffer from melasma; and higher Fitzpatrick skin types with acne typically also have residual post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH). Therefore, when choosing skin brighteners, the ancillary benefits of certain skin-brightening ingredients should also be considered.

Cost may be a factor, too, because not everyone can afford—or may be reluctant—to purchase multiple products initially. Skin care professionals must be able to help those who can afford to purchase only one product. Again, choosing products containing blends of ingredients with multiple benefits provides a better opportunity to improve the health of the client’s skin with as few as one product.

Mastering Melanogenesis