What we learned about pigmentation | 9Lives
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Over the last month we have been on a journey with Environ to learn more about pigmentation, and how it affects our own skin. Ironically, beforehand, we were both under the impression that neither of us really had anything to worry about. Then, after a thorough skin analysis at the Environ Skin Institute in Cape Town, our eyes were opened to the facts. What you see on the surface is a lot different from what is going on in the deeper layers of the skin.

Now our interest was piqued and we had a lot of questions. Turns out, so did you. Our social media was flooded with questions around pigmentation, from hormonal to scarring, UV protection and more. We took them to Solé Joubert, Environ Head Educator, to get our facts straight about uneven skin and what we could do to treat it. She offered some fantastic insights, and explained how the new Environ Focus Care Radiance+ Range has been developed to effectively target pigmentation issues. You can read that article HERE.

So, after a month of deep investigation, are we any wiser?

Tasha: Freckles aren’t pigmentation, right?

Partnering with Environ Skin Care has been quite an experience. I truly believed that having pigmentation was completely different from having freckles. I believed that freckles were a genetic thing, while pigmentation was brought about due to external factors.

I was right in some ways, and so wrong in others.

My first step on this journey was taken when I visited the Environ Skin Institute in Cape Town and had my skin analysed under three different light spectrums. It’s not great seeing your face that close up, trust me.

Having my skin analysed – and seeing what my face would look like if I didn’t do anything to prevent my freckles from worsening – freaked me out a little, I’m not going to lie. I’m a redhead, with typical fair skin to match. And having a grandmother who passed away due to Melanoma just hammered home how important it is to look after the state of my skin.

My fair complexion means that I have less melanin in my skin, making it more likely to burn. It was suggested to me that I apply an SPF everyday, even in winter (this is actually true for everyone, as we later learned), and that I use something that contains a lower SPF, but a higher level of antioxidants. Vitamin A and other antioxidants like Vitamin C and E protect your skin against external factors like sun damage by fighting free radicals and lessening oxidative stress. Environ recommends using RAD SPF 15 as a daily antioxidant-rich broad spectrum SPF.

While at the Environ Skin Institute the importance of hormones and their influence on pigmentation were also made apparent to us. I have PCOS, or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, a condition brought about due to hormonal instabilities. Because of it, I am on the contraceptive pill. It turns out that both of these factors will impact my skin’s ability to fight and produce pigmentation, as hormones – and especially the female hormone estrogen – play such a vital role in the production of pigmentation in the skin.

Add to that the question of freckles, which are a genetic factor that is exacerbated by light influence. So are freckles pigmentation? It turns out that freckles and “typical” pigmentation operate on the same sort of mechanism. In fact, most kids tend to have freckles, but as they age, these freckles may lighten and disappear completely. A rule of thumb is that if you still have freckles by the time you turn 18, you’ll probably have them for the rest of your life. And while they may fade slightly in winter, you still need to look after your skin even in the absence of direct sunlight.

The image of my face looking similar to a dalmation was burnt into my retinas, and the warning of the skin therapist rang in my ears. Naturally a couple of questions popped into my head. How would I stop this? Could I stop this?

Liezel: Pregnancy and pigmentation, the deeper issue here

I was terrified of how pregnancy would affect my skin. Melasma, commonly called the Mask of Pregnancy, is a very common occurrence where pigmentation pops up around the mouth, nose and on your forehead. I have a dark skin tone and I’m pretty prone to post-inflammation scarring, so I was preparing myself for the worst. Then Baby arrived and it looked like I had gotten through without a spot.

Unfortunately there is more to pigmentation than meets the eye. At the start of this journey I went for my skin analysis at the Environ Skin Institute, where the therapist takes an in depth look at the deeper layers of your skin, taking images under three types of light. This process reveals underlying issues including pigmentation and fine lines. It was during this session that I really saw how much pigmentation lurked below the surface of my skin. This could happily remain there, or, if I didn’t take proper care, it could all reveal itself as I got older.

Yeah, I sat up and listened.

It’s difficult to know how much of this pigmentation was caused by my pregnancy. It might have been there all along. But hormones do play a big part. That’s what makes the new Environ Focus Care Radiance+ Range so clever, disrupting the biological processes that cause the overproduction of melanin, and in that way stopping discolouration and dark spots. Meanwhile they’ve also incorporated Vitamin C to help bring skin back to an even appearance.

According to Solé Joubert, the best time to start treating hormonal pigmentation is after baby is born. You want to first give your body time to balance out all those crazy pregnancy hormones. This system can be used with your standard Environ STEP-P SYSTEM or professional treatments, so you can easily work it into your everyday routine.

What really struck me through this process is the importance of preventative skincare. You don’t want to wait for pigmentation to surface because then it takes much longer, and is much harder to treat. I’d recommend going for a skin analysis like we did so that you can really see where your problem areas are, and then start a proper treatment regime that targets your concern. That’s smart skincare.

To book your own skin analysis at the Environ Skin Institute in Cape Town phone 021 422 5693 or contact them via Institute@environ.co.za. Or if you want to find your nearest Environ stockist visit environskincare.com.

Is there anything else you want to know? Pop your questions in the comments below, send us a mail to sayhello@9lives.co.za or connect with us on any of our social media platforms. We will try our best to get the answers you’re looking for.

This post was sponsored by Environ


I am a lifestyle blogger from Cape Town trying to find the best ways to spend my time, take care of my body and express myself. I am slightly obsessed with fragrances, sneakers, Jamie Oliver and Masterchef Australia. Oh, and I probably drink way too much wine.

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