Sun damage and prolonged exposure isn’t kind to our skin, and this hostility doesn’t just begin and end with sun burn. It also encourages the onset of premature ageing, thinned skin, sun spots, and hyperpigmentation. When we expose our skin to the ultraviolet rays of the sun, it produces an inflammatory response. This response starts as early as the first exposure to sunlight, and prolonged exposure leads to drastically increased inflammation levels. We produce hormones to combat the inflammation, which encourage the excess production of melanin in the skin. Over the years, if you keep exposing your skin to the sun for long periods of time, the hormones that activate melanin production become permanently active and continue to darken the skin. This is why it’s important to wear sun protection; it will protect you from the short- and long-term effects of sun damage.
Skin trauma and damage, spanning from an injury to aggressive acne, leads to excess melanin production and contributes to hyperpigmentation. When you have any kind of skin trauma, we react to it with inflammation and the healing process in our body starts. We produce new skin cells to close the wound, but when the skin is in trauma or particularly inflamed these cells are produced to heal the wound as quickly as possible. Because of this rushed process, the skin produces an excess amount of melanin that is not the same tone as the rest of your skin. This kind of reaction is seen in those who have experienced acne scarring, because the skin is attempting to heal to close the wound to infection.
Hormonal changes during pregnancy or while receiving birth control are a common contributor to the development of hyperpigmentation. The increased production of oestrogen and progesterone result in boosted melanin production that is also known as melasma. It can disappear after pregnancy or following the commencement of birth control, but for others it may linger longer than it is welcome.