Our receptionist, Kimberly, shares her personal experiences of hyperpigmentation, and her skincare journey…
“Many expats may agree with Dorothy’s words “there’s no place like home”. If I were able to get my hands on a pair of ruby-encrusted sling-backs and click my heels to go back home, I’d do it in a heartbeat. This year will mark five years since I moved to London from Florida. Naturally, starting out I was presented with some challenges but there have been more blessings amongst the chaos, meeting my husband being one of them.
However, there is still one thing that I’ve been struggling with: scarring and hyperpigmentation. The combination of hard water, air pollution, lack of sun and other hormonal triggers have left my skin in an unrecognisable state. Well-meaning family and friends will give me helpful tips or recommend a miracle product or home remedy to lighten those dark marks: I take their comments with a pitch of salt, but really I want to cry.
Because they don’t see the steps I’ve already been taking to try to solve my skin issues: cleaning my bedding and phone often, maintaining a rigorous skincare routine, drinking more than two litres of water daily, only using mineral based makeup, wearing SPF every day, taking antioxidant rich supplements… the list goes on. However, when I look back on old photos I cannot help but think my skin was never like this in Florida… and I want to go home. But I knew I couldn’t put the blame on London so I decided to do more research.
Hyperpigmentation is very common in skin of colour. It is the overproduction of melanin in the skin. Oftentimes, scarring and dark spots are brought about when acne or other skin blemishes are disturbed. This means that if you do at-home extractions, you risk having dark spots later. Picking at scabs or dry, flaky skin can also cause hyperpigmentation.
When it comes to skin maintenance and skincare, high-quality, simplicity and prevention are the key words! All skin routines should include Vitamin C, Vitamin A and a good SPF. Additionally, your cleanser, toner and moisturiser should either be gentle and neutral or specific to your skin type (e.g. dry, oily or combination). Seek out brands that are formulated with high-quality ingredients. These can be found at a dermatologist or aesthetician clinic. My favourite brands are SkinBetter Science and Neostrata.
How and when you apply your products is also important: always start with freshly cleansed skin to ensure absorption of other products. It’s also helpful to apply this rule when layering products: go from thinnest to thickest, e.g. toner first, then serums, gels or creams, moisturiser and finally SPF.
Vitamin C is your pollution shield so apply in the morning before you go out. Vitamin A is your skin cell regenerator and is sensitive to light so apply this at night. SPF should be worn daily and reapplied throughout the day to prevent photoageing and further darkening of any spots or scars.
This has been my skincare routine for 2 years and although I still get the occasional breakout and dark spots, my skin is much happier! In the meantime, I have encouraged myself to embrace the current state of my skin. Lamenting over old photos will not magically bring it back. Also, I kindly inform my family and friends that their unwanted comments, as well meaning as they are trying to be, are affecting my mental health.
An ancient poet once wrote when referring to the human body: “I am wonderfully made!”. The truest words ever written. Let this be your new affirmation the next time you look into the mirror.”