How many times have you looked in the mirror and wondered how your cute, charming splatter of freckles somehow morphed into one giant blob? No, it's not your day cream working overtime (nothing can tighten skin that much), it's simply what happens as we get deeper into each season of GoT.
Hyperpigmentation (or pigmentation, as it's commonly referred to) often appears out of nowhere—one day you're sipping rosé in the sun, the next, a dark, blotchy patch has taken up residence on your face. Not ideal, especially when the goal is to look as luminous as possible.
While uneven skin tone, darkness and spots are all responsible for making you look older than you actually are, it's nothing a little know-how can't fix. First, we need to understand that all pigmentation was not created equally, and that each type requires a different treatment.
There are three main kinds:
Hormonal: This is what surfaces during pregnancy or while taking the pill. Unfortunately, it's the hardest to fight—it's less resistant to treatment and you need to fix your hormones first.
Post-inflammatory: What's left behind after a pimple or bite has healed. This is this is the easiest to treat, however many confuse these spots for scars and thus do not treat appropriately. Vitamin E is not going to work on these bad boys.
Age Spots: The darker patches that appear on skin that is often exposed to the sun (think: old lady hands). Most of this pigmentation is created when you're young, yet makes its way to the surface decades later. Those years spent running through the backyard sprinkler in your underwear? WORST.
Thankfully, our illustrious search for smooth, youthful skin has yielded results. Scroll to learn five ways to reach peak Jon Snow.
We know we don't have to tell you this, but we're going to say it anyway: Prevention is better than cure. Starting right this very second, stop picking your face. Apply sunscreen religiously. Avoid prolonged exposure to the sun. There is absolutely no point in spending money on any form of treatment if you're not going to do this as a bare minimum. Your smooth, radiant skin of the future will thank your former self, trust.
If you've been a little aggressive when squeezing a spot, that darker, reddish, purple or brown mark won't vanish right away. You'll need to be patient. It will eventually fade, give it a year or three, but you can speed up the process with either chemical or physical exfoliation.
The same applies to targeted products—they won't work overnight! It takes roughly 28 days for new cells to form, so you'll need to commit to see the intended results.
Hormonal pigmentation is called melasma. It affects 10-15% of pregnant women, and 10-25% of women taking the contraceptive pill. While it can take up to a year for pregnancy-induced pigmentation to fade naturally, if yours is caused by the pill it's best to speak to your GP. They may suggest going off it completely, or switching to hormone-free alternatives.
Use a range of products specifically designed to treat pigmentation. These are usually labelled 'whitening' or 'brightening' and include active ingredients such as vitamin C, retinol and AHA. We like the Shiseido White Lucent range as it both suppresses pigment production (to prevent future outbreaks) and targets your existing dark spots. The range can also be used in conjunction with clinical treatments, which brings us to...
Clinical treatments such as chemical peels and light therapy can be excellent, but they're not for everyone. With chemical peels, the blend of acids will literally take off the outer layer of epidermis to reveal brighter, new skin—but don't stress, it sounds far more intense than it actually is. Not only will the exfoliation accelerate cell turnover, it's great for treating acne and blackheads at the same time. Fraxel or Clear + Brilliant are both good options if you have lighter skin, however if your complexion is olive or darker, lasers can exacerbate your pigmentation woes. IPL and light therapy can also heed results, but as with all treatments, it's best to see your aesthetician for a bespoke prescription.
Opening image: Getty
How do you tackle pigmentation? Sound off in the comments below.