My Depigmenting Journey – Written by skincare specialist Bernice Crause
So many women between the age of 20 and 30 see a rapid change in their skin with unwanted pigmentation forming overnight. It is crucial to understand what type of pigment condition you are suffering to ensure you will proceed with the correct depigmenting journey.
With this post I will share My (personal) Depigmenting Journey with some added insights as a skin specialist. I try to look after my skin in the best possible way, but I still fell prey to this unfortunate skin condition. Many young women struggle with melasma, a chronic condition, which in my experience can only be maintained rather than completely removed.
Hyperpigmentation is the discoloration of the skin with darkened areas and can be caused by an array of factors including sun damage, post-acne scarring (post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation pigmentation), and melasma.
How do you know that you are suffering from melasma?
For me there is no other way than to do a proper skin analysis with a skincare specialist – in some cases the right questions can be asked and melasma can then be seen with the naked eye. However I highly recommend a VISIA Skin Analysis before anyone continues with a depigmenting journey. A VISIA Skin Analysis is a 3D photo scanner that will show what is going on deeper within the skin, including effects that cannot always be seen by the naked eye. Many South Africans encounter this skin pigmentation daily, and it is not just seen as a ‘pregnancy mask’.
The VISIA Skin Analysis will differentiate your pigmentation into 2 categories:
- Brown spots = years of sun damage + common areas where melasma is visible, including the cheekbones, temples, forehead, and often on the top lip. Melasma can be recognized by symmetry and vascularity in these areas.
- UV Spots = These are the more superficial spots that we often see; the freckle like sunspots and can easily be treated by laser and deep peel treatments.
I still remember, at age 22 in 2013, how one of my colleagues asked me what the dirty mark on my temple was. Without the necessary knowledge, I immediately went into harsh facial treatments including many peels and lasers specifically advertised for pigmentation. In my young, inexperienced way of thinking about pigmentation, I was not on any form of preparation products or aftercare. SPF, for instance, was something for beach days, right?
I went through deep needling, IPL lasers, and an invasive CO2 laser, which left my skin looking amazing with no sign of pigmentation. But wait, what happened a few months later? My pigmentation came back with a vengeance and grew, all the way from the small patch on my temples to my cheekbones, above my brows, and later even extending to parts of my forehead.
This prompted me to take a step back and research this pigmentation form, melasma, which became more and more common in clinics. Through my research I found that the core came down to inflammation.
In 2019, after many years in the Aesthetic field, I joined the team at Dr Nerina Wilkinson + Associates where I started working with Dr. Marisa Heyns who was (and remains) at the forefront of knowledge in all skin conditions.
When she saw my pigmentation, we immediately started My Depigmenting Journey, at that point, a new protocol from Mesoestetics – Melan Tran3x. This included Melan Tran3x concentrate and Melan Tran3x Gel Cream which I applied every morning and evening, and other treatments, including a brightening fruit acid peel and superficial needling or sometimes Mesotherapy. The treatments were done every 2 weeks over a 10-week period. After this process, I saw a slow breakdown in my pigment resulting in a brighter skin tone. However, my pigmentation is also vascular, which makes it even harder to treat due to the inflammation already in the core of my skin.
With my wedding in December 2019, I decided to bite the bullet and commit to the world-renowned Mesoestetic Dermamelan Treatment for melasma. Meseostetic Dermamelan consists of an active 3-month treatment phase with a once-off mask and then a maintenance cream that is applied 3 times per day for the first month, twice a day for the second month, and once a day for the third month.
My skin was pre-prepared by the products that I was already using. One month prior to the first mask application, I did a 3D MD PRP (aka Dr Vampire) treatment which brings your skin to its optimal potential and also results in a better outcome for treatments that follow. For me, especially, having the vascularity and sensitivity, I wanted to give my skin the necessary support with my own growth factor containing platelets.
What a journey which I could not do half-heartedly as I was adamant at proving how good this treatment can be. Prior to this treatment I had lost close to all hope and found myself becoming very depressed and self-aware due to the condition of my skin. It ended up “forcing” me into applying loads of foundation makeup or as I named it – my Polyfilla.
The process started on the 4th of August 2019 where a thick, peanut butter-like mask was applied to my skin which I had to leave on for 10 hours.
Excuse the terrible photo, there is just now another way
Day 1 post-My Depigmenting Journey’s Dermamelan Mask: Swelling and Redness
Day 4 post-My Depigmenting Journey’s Dermamelan Mask: Peeling Skin for a few days
Day 12 of My Depigmenting Journey’s Dermamelan Treatment: Some more peeling and redness
My Depigmenting Journey: Before and 1 month after
My Depigmenting Journey: Before and 2 months after
My Depigmenting Journey: Before and 3 months after
To conclude My Depigmenting Journey:
- Understand that we are predisposed to have hyperpigmentation. It is not necessarily the pill or other things we so often blame, but more inflammation that will be the trigger. Sun, Gut Health, Medication, and Fluctuating hormones, common with pregnancy.
- Always do the best you can not expose your face to the sun, going out on summer days with a hat and turning your back to the sun when you actually are in the out and about. Be okay with the fact that the pigmentation will go darker when you are in high humid areas or see drastic climate changes.
- Stay away from any saunas, heated yoga, or other similar training.
- Supplement your body with a daily probiotic and Heliocare 360 Capsules for its anti-inflammatory and protecting properties.
- A broad-spectrum SPF should be like brushing your teeth. For instance, I put in on every single day, even when I am home in my pajamas. We are exposed not just to UV Rays, but also High Visible Light and Infrared, which causes inflammation. Important to reapply during the day.
- I will remain on a pigment inhibiting product to block the pigmentation pathways.
- Antioxidants in the form of serums, SPF, and supplementation are great additions.
- Stay away from lasers, aggressive deep needling, and deep peels.
- Focus on treatments like 3D MD PRP (aka Dr Vampire), LED Light Therapy; Mesotherapy, Superficial Brightening Peels; Melan Tran3x /or Cosmelan/Dermamelan.