The Darker Side of Pigmentation

Skin pigmentation can be caused by a number of factors, hormonal influences, age, sun exposure, skin injuries or inflammation are all factors that can all play their part.

For me personally, growing up, I lived at the beach during my holidays. Like most New Zealanders, we divided our time between being either on the water or in it. One of my most vivid memories is of our infamous Aloe Vera After Sun Gel. This was always faithfully stored in the fridge, always brought out at the end of a day filled with sailing, water skiing or spending time in the surf. These were the days when sunblock was not considered and only the legendary coloured zinc (which was a fashion statement at the time) was a token gesture.


Roll on 30 years, and I am left with the constant reminder of this magical time. Thankfully I don’t have skin cancer as I have been checked numerous times, but the bands of pigmentation in the form of freckles, ephelides and larger lesions have really decided to set up home. 


So today, after a lot of research, I sat down with Louise Gray from Louise Gray Skin Care to talk about Cosmelan, her Depigmentation Programme that has been changing many people’s lives. I was so intrigued by her last article for Verve where she talked about her own journey with Cosmelan and I needed to know more!


So, what did I find out?

Firstly, does cosmelan work on any type of pigmentation?

Yes, with Cosmelan we treat all types of pigmentation. Cosmelan is effective to treat: melasma, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, solar, senile lentigo and freckles.

What is the best time to use Cosmelan?

Cosmelan can be performed at any time of the year, though it is advisable to do it at times when sun exposure is not so intense or prolonged, such as the winter and autumn. So now would be the perfect time for you.


When we have treated people in summer, they are under strict instructions that they need to completely avoid very intense or prolonged sun exposure.

How long does the treatment last?

The Cosmelan method consists of four phases which are necessary to achieve the target result. Intensive depigmentation in phase 1 and treatment for home use in phases 2, 3 and 4. The total duration of treatment is about seven months, that can change based on the severity of the case. It is a commitment on your part, but we work closely together to ensure that you are on track to obtain the best result.

How long should it take to see results? And should I stop using it if I am seeing results?

Thank you for asking this question. The most significant change takes place a few weeks after applying the initial treatment in clinic, it improves skin texture and pigment decreases noticeably. This can give you a misleading feeling of success. During this period, melanin has been removed from the outermost skin layers, and therefore we see pigment fade and the skin become smoother and softer, but the origin of the problem has not been controlled yet. The melanocyte, a cell where melanin is produced, is still uncontrolled and continues to produce pigment (melanin) in excess. To re-educate the melanocyte and control this overproduction, it is important to continue a home treatment with regulating action, so that the cell returns to a normal active state and therefore prevents pigment from reappearing.

Cosmelan can be performed at any time of the year, though it is advisable to do it at times when sun exposure is not so intense or prolonged. So now would be the perfect time for you.

What happens if I stop applying the treatment at home?

If you do not follow the home regimen, you are interrupting the treatment programme and will therefore not obtain your expected results. By not applying the depigmenting cream with the regulating action means the melanocyte is not regulated. Therefore, a persistent uncontrolled, excessive production of melanin is produced. The pigmentation will reappear as the skin layers are renewed. Melanin migrates to the surface making the pigment increasingly evident.


Also not using sunscreen, involves a very high risk that the pigmentation returns, as skin is more sensitive and receptive to external aggressions during the treatment.

Can I combine the Cosemelan treatment with other pigmentation treatments?

During at least the first three months of the programme, it is not recommended to use any other type of minimally invasive treatment that can cause a skin lesion, as well as peels, microneedling, exfoliations, and so on, as it can even cause re-pigmentation. 


In the last months where we reduce the application guidelines of Cosmelan 2 only to the night, we can combine it with treatments that help prolong the results.

Does the treatment effect my ability to perform my daily activities?

As it is not an invasive treatment, it does not make you unable to fulfil your activities of daily living normally. Caution must be exerted when fulfilling some activities especially during the first days however.

Can the pigmentation return after treatment?

It is essential to apply a daily depigmentation treatment and sunscreen throughout the year to prevent re-pigmentation, even if the pigmentation is not visible. Remember it is a dynamic process where the imbalance forming them can cause the recurrence. 


After my consultation with Louise and seeing my Reveal Digital Skin Images, I am booking in!

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