EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT SKIN BLEMISHES
Published August 30, 2023
Skin blemishes can affect anyone, regardless of age or gender. It can be very difficult to get rid of them or find effective solutions to deal with them once they develop. This is why it is crucial to understand where skin blemishes come from and why they appear.
In this article, our experts go into detail about the role of melanin and the different factors that can cause these imperfections. From sun exposure to hormonal imbalances and the lingering effects of acne, you'll learn everything you need to know about the causes of skin blemishes and the most effective active cosmetic ingredients you can use to prevent them.
THE PIVOTOL ROLE OF MELANIN
To effectively prevent and treat skin blemishes, it is essential to know where they come from. In the vast majority of cases, melanin is responsible.
Normally, this pigment is responsible for skin color, and acts as a natural UV filter to protect the skin from the sun. Melanin absorbs UV radiation, preventing it from reaching our DNA and damaging our skin cells. But sometimes, certain factors can disrupt the melanin cycle and lead to the appearance of blemishes. Let us explain.
WHERE AND HOW IS MELANIN PRODUCED?
Melanin is made in the deeper layers of the epidermis by specialized cells called melanocytes.
The mechanism by which melanin is produced is called melanogenesis. It consists of two main stages:
1. Melanin synthesis: Melanin is produced in melanocytes thanks to an enzyme and stored in small vesicles called melanosomes.
2. The distribution of melanin throughout the epidermis: melanosomes are then transported to the cells of the epidermis (keratinocytes), whose DNA they protect by forming a protective barrier.
THE TWO KINDS OF MELANIN
Melanocytes can make two different kinds of melanin:
1. Eumelanin, which is dark brown or black in color.
2. Pheomelanin, which has a yellowish-to-reddish tint.
Skin color is determined by the ratio of these two kinds of melanin. In cosmetics and dermatology, this is called the skin phototype. This is an important concept that allows us to characterize a skin type according to its ability to naturally protect itself from UV rays or, conversely, to suffer sunburn.
THE REGULATION OF MELANIN PRODUCTION
The factors mentioned above are determined by genes, but they can also be influenced by our environment.
When exposed to the sun, melanin synthesis increases — we know this phenomenon as tanning. When such exposure is kept under control, there's nothing to worry about as the skin protects itself. But if the amount of UV radiation received exceeds the skin's capacity to absorb it, if we are exposed to too much pollution, or if our hormones undergo major changes, proper melanin secretion is compromised. It is overproduced, leading to the formation of clusters that quickly develop into blemishes.
THE DIFFERENT KINDS OF SKIN BLEMISHES
As we've just seen, all skin blemishes share melanin as a common feature. But this doesn't mean that they're all the same. There are three main kinds of skin blemish:
1. Hyperpigmentation blemishes, also known as age spots or liver spots, are caused by excessive exposure to the sun. They generally occur in areas that tend to be less protected by clothing, such as the face, neck, forearms, etc. These clusters of melanin form over time and usually become visible after the age of 40. They are one of the main signs of skin aging.
2. Melasma, or the mask of pregnancy when present in pregnant women, is primarily caused by hormonal imbalances. So this means that it doesn't only occur during pregnancy but also as a result of certain medical treatments (like birth control) or hormone disorders. It is also highly hereditary and unrelated to liver spots. It also presents as brown spots on the skin of the face, but much more prominently, hence the “mask” name. It's also worth noting that melasma is not exclusively a female condition. In some parts of the world, it can affect a significant proportion of the male population.
3. Acne can also leave blemishes on the skin that persist even after pimples clear up. They are red or brown in color. Acne is an inflammatory disease that is responsible, among other things, for an excessive production of melanin, which builds up in the areas affected by pimples. Once the pimples clear up, the excess melanin remains, leaving blemishes.
ALLEVIATING OR ELIMINATING SKIN BLEMISHES
Bear in mind what was said above about melanin synthesis. It is produced thanks to an enzyme and stored in small vesicles (melanosomes) before being distributed to the epidermal cells (keratinocytes).
As blemishes are caused by a localized surplus of melanin, the solution to preventing or alleviating them is to prevent melanin from accumulating in skin cells. Therefore, to stop the production of melanin and have an effect on blemishes, we need to either halt the activity of the enzyme that produces it or prevent the delivery of melanin to the cells of the epidermis.
These are precisely the things targeted by the active ingredients selected by FILORGA's formulation experts.
BLOCKING THE PRODUCTION OF MELANIN
To prevent melanin secretion, we use vitamin C and glabridin, a polyphenol extracted from liquorice root. These two compounds have a powerful enzyme-inhibiting effect on all melanin synthesis pathways.
BLOCKING THE DELIVERY OF MELANIN
“Rainbow wrack” brown seaweed extract (Cystoseira tamariscifolia) prevents the delivery of melanin to epidermal cells, making it impossible for blemishes to form.
These three active ingredients are the key ingredients of our SKIN-UNIFY collection and are inspired by laser skin resurfacing techniques. They target each stage responsible for the development of skin blemishes.
Find out more about the SKIN-UNIFY collection.