Types of pigmentation

What is pigmentation?

Are you using various shades of concealer and foundations to even out your skin tone and disguise imperfections? That uneven skin tone is called pigmentation.

If you have darker patches: this is known as hyperpigmentation. 

If you have lighter patches: this is known as hypopigmentation. 

Generally, hypopigmentation is caused by skin disorders, such as vitiligo or scarring from acne or injuries.


Hyperpigmentation is caused when the body creates too much melanin. Melanin gives us our colouring and it can be linked to our genetics, so it is in both our skin and hair; it’s a cell, basically, and it is called a melanocyte and is in the deepest layer of the skin.

Accelerated melanin production is caused by hormonal fluctuations, which can occur during pregnancy, the menopause, or taking the contraceptive pill.

In clinic, I frequently see hyperpigmentation that is caused by excessive exposure to UV rays, from both the sun, sunbeds, acne scars, and/or injuries to the skin. These areas of pigmentation can show up on the shoulders, décolleté, hands and face.

Climate change

In a world where the climate is changing and we are experiencing hotter summers, with more exposure to the sun’s UV rays, it has never been more important to protect yourself from sun damage. 


There are two types of UV rays that we need to be mindful of and these are UVA and UVB. The UVA rays penetrate deeply into our skin affecting our elastin fibres, leading to fine lines and wrinkles and is the main cause of premature skin aging, which is also called photoaging.

UVB rays are linked to sunburn, darkening, and thickening of the skin and can cause malignant melanomas and basal cell carcinoma. However, both UVA and UVB rays can cause skin cancer.

What variations of skin pigmentation are there?


Interesting fact: We are not born with freckles. They are caused by sun exposure and genetics.  They develop through being exposed to the sun. 

Freckles are the most common kind of hyperpigmentation, and lighter-skinned people are more likely to develop them. Too much exposure to the sun might darken or produce new freckles.

Solar Lentigos often occur around the neck, the face, and the shoulders.  They look like freckles, but they do not fade in the winter months, as freckles do.  They are often larger than freckles and the number and size will often increase with age: They appear, usually, after 30 years of age. 

Although most pigmentation patches or marks are harmless it is important to keep a check on them to enable you to recognize any changes that may occur and the best way to do this is to take regular photographs so you can identify the changes.

If any changes are noticed, such as irregular borders, an increase in size or if there are any changes in colour, then medical advice needs to be sought immediately; changes can indicate early signs of skin cancer.  Yes, we all say we will do it later, or it’ll be nothing – It is better to take a photograph to refer to later and it is vital changes are checked, rather than left. Early detection can save your life.

Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH) is caused by injuries to the skin. I often see PIH in my patients who are or have suffered from acne. This post-acne PIH can improve over time without the need for therapeutic intervention. However, chronic inflammation caused by acne can result in darkened areas of scarring.

PHI can also occur when therapeutic interventions such as chemical peels, dermabrasion, laser therapy, and IPL are used incorrectly or too aggressively. The adverse consequences of these treatments can leave the patient with severe burns, blistering, and scaring. The incorrect and overuse of homecare products are equally as damaging.

Hormonal Hyperpigmentation – known as melasma or chloasma.

Melasma is caused by hormonal changes in both male and females, although less often in males. In pregnancy, it is called chloasma, which is often referred to as the mask of pregnancy because it affects the face and looks like a mask.

You are more likely to get this type of pigmentation if other members of your family have it.  Melasma is predominantly caused by sun damage it will generally occur when with hormonal fluctuations.  Again, like freckles, these patches will fade during the winter.

What can you do to clear your hyperpigmentation or prevent it, in the 1st place?

Check out my next blogs, Tackling and preventing hyperpigmentation: In clinic treatments and Tackling and preventing hyperpigmentation: At home products

Need more information?

Why not book a consultation with me at my clinic in Penistone, Sheffield?

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Booking link https://portal.aestheticnursesoftware.com/book-online/2050