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Uneven Skin Tone

Uneven skin tone, also known as hyperpigmentation, is evident in patches of skin that appear darker in color than the normal surrounding skin. There are many reasons why uneven skin tone can occur on the face or body. Fundamentally, any unevenness in color is connected with the production of melanin, the natural pigment found in the skin. Melanin is produced by special skin cells called melanocytes, which are located at the bottom of the epidermis.

Bio‑Oil & uneven skin tone

With regular application, Bio‑Oil helps to improve the appearance of uneven skin tone. This is due to the synergistic effect of the active ingredients in the product, specifically Vitamins A and E and bisabolol, which have an inhibiting effect on melanin production, most likely via a combination of anti-oxidation and tyrosinase inhibition.

Vitamin A promotes enzyme activity in the skin and demonstrates skin renewing properties. It increases the thickness of the epidermis, particularly in mature skin, and also improves the appearance of UV-damaged skin. The primary benefit of Vitamin E in Bio-Oil is as an antioxidant. Antioxidants are essential in helping to reduce the production of melanin and consequently improving the appearance of uneven skin tone.

Bisabolol is included in Bio‑Oil for its anti-inflammatory properties, providing soothing and calming benefits to the skin. It also acts as a skin lightener which is effective in treating uneven skin tone when combined with Vitamins A and E.

Causes of uneven skin tone

Uneven skin tone is caused by an impairment in the function of melanocytes. This can occur as a result of many different causes. The most common cause is over-exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation which is exacerbated with age. For this reason, uneven skin tone or brown spots are often referred to as ‘sunspots’.

Hormone levels in the body and hormonal changes can also influence melanocyte function. Thus uneven skin tone, which may be temporary or more permanent, is frequently observed during pregnancy or menopause, when the hormone profiles in the body change significantly.

Problematic skin conditions, such as acne can also interfere with melanocyte function resulting in uneven skin tone.

Hypopigmentation, when there is a lack of pigmentation in the skin characterized by white patches, is normally caused by trauma or genetic factors.

Uneven skin tone during pregnancy

Women can suffer from uneven skin tone during pregnancy as a result of fluctuations in hormone levels and an increase in melanin production. While this pigmentation usually fades after pregnancy, it may not disappear completely. Using Bio-Oil regularly throughout pregnancy can significantly reduce the likelihood of developing uneven skin tone.

Treatment of uneven skin tone

There are a number of ways of treating uneven skin tone and the degree of success enjoyed with each one depends upon many factors. The type and severity of uneven skin tone concerned, the age and health of the person involved and the lifestyle management regimen that is followed all influence treatment efficacy. In the case of topically applied skin care treatments that aim to reduce or eliminate uneven skin tone, there are three different approaches that exist.

Melanocyte suppressors (skin lighteners)

Substances which physiologically affect the melanocytes’ ability to produce melanin at a cellular level have been used for years to improve the appearance of uneven skin tone. The most infamous of these substances is the chemical hydroquinone, used extensively for its ‘skin lightening’ ability. However, hydroquinone is toxic to cells, with prolonged exposure resulting in irreversible scarring of the skin. For this reason, hydroquinone has been banned for use in topically applied cosmetic skincare products in most parts of the world.

Antioxidants

Using topically applied antioxidants can help reduce uneven skin tone. The production of melanin, by the melanocyte, is an oxidative process, requiring oxygen at a cellular level to function properly. Therefore, the inclusion of an antioxidant in skincare treatment will inhibit the production of melanin through the elimination of available oxygen. This process can result in a reduction of uneven skin tone.

Tyrosinase inhibitors

The most commonly employed topically applied treatment for uneven skin tone, is to incorporate a tyrosinase inhibitor. When the melanocyte produces melanin, the first step in the process is the conversion of the amino acid tyrosine into dihydroxyphenylalanine, commonly referred to as DOPA. The DOPA is eventually converted to melanin. The initial conversion of tyrosine to DOPA is facilitated by the enzyme tyrosinase. Use of a tyrosinase inhibitor prevents the conversion of tyrosine to DOPA which, in turn, inhibits the formation of melanin and reduces the occurrence of uneven skin tone. This is currently considered to be the safest and most effective method for reducing or eliminating uneven skin tone.