How to tackle pigmentation naturally
Simple ingredients from the kitchen can come to your rescue
The skin has wonderful protective responses. In the deeper layers of the epidermis are cells that produce melanin, the pigment that gives the skin its colour. Melanin actually protects the skin from the sun’s radiation. It increases on exposure to the sun and is transferred to the skin’s surface. That is why the skin gets tanned on sun exposure. Sometimes, the transfer of melanin is affected, due to hormonal or other internal reasons, resulting in uneven deposits of melanin and dark pigmented patches or spots.
The first aspect of treatment, therefore, is sun protection. The skin needs protection with a broad-spectrum sunscreen that provides protection from both UV-A and UV-B rays. Select a sunscreen with SPF of at least 20 or 25. This would suit most skins. What is SPF? It is Sun Protective Factor and is denoted by a number. It should be mentioned on the label of the sunscreen. It is related to the duration of sun exposure and also to individual skin sensitivity. If the skin is more sensitive to the sun and tends to burn easily, or has dark patches, use a sunscreen with a higher SPF of 30 or 40. Remember to apply sunscreen while swimming, holidaying by the sea or in the hills.
The sunscreen should be applied 20 minutes before sun exposure, to allow it time to be absorbed by the skin. It should be reapplied if you are in the sun for more than an hour. The use of scrubs and masks help to reduce pigmentation by removing dead skin cells and their contained pigment. The dark patches gradually become lighter. Even when the pigmented patches disappear, one should continue to use a sunscreen.
To make a cleanser to reduce pigmentation, add 5 drops of olive oil or sunflower oil to one tablespoon cold milk. Mix it well. With the help of cotton wool, use this mixture to wipe the skin. You will find that milk soothes the skin and also lightens skin colour over a period of time, if used daily.
Home remedies for pigmentation
Scrub: Mix 3 tablespoons almond meal (ground almonds) with half cup yoghurt (curd) and a pinch of turmeric. Apply on the face and neck. Rub gently, especially on the dark patches and wash off with plenty of water. It also helps remove tan. Scrubs should not be applied on sensitive skin, pimples, acne or rash.
For dark patches: Mix together a big pinch of coarse salt with a cream. Apply only on the areas with the dark patches or spots and rub gently. Wash off. Then apply cold milk and wash off after 15 minutes. Do this twice a week.
Mask: Mix 3 teaspoons oatmeal with ripe papaya pulp and one teaspoon curd into a thick paste. Apply and wash off after 20 minutes. This mask suits both dry and oily skins.
For hands: Take 2 tablespoons sunflower oil and 3 tablespoon coarse sugar. Mix together till it becomes a paste. Apply and rub into hands. Rinse off after 15 minutes.