Nobody minds colour when it is uniform, but the minute the pigmentation becomes irregular, darker with the sun and resistant to high street creams it becomes a problem. Blotchy skin, hormone-associated melasma and brown spots spoil the complexion. Mixed skin types can be more prone to pigmentary changes.

Pigmentation is often caused by the female hormone oestrogen found in the contraceptive pill or HRT and so much higher in pregnancy. Pigmentation often occurs in skin of mixed origin and more so in oriental skin types. Pigmentation can occur after physical or emotional trauma or irritation, and of course UV exposure. Frequently several underlying factors add up to create the typical mask of pigmentation across the forehead, the upper lip and the cheeks.

Pigmentation needs to be treated gently to avoid further outbursts of colour change. Peeling with specific combinatons and IPL can both be used to deal with problem pigmentation.

Cosmelan/Dermamelan is a peel system from Spain that can be used as a full-on peel, a gentle peel repeated every two weeks or as a simple cream.

Cosmelan/Dermamelan 1 and 2

Cosmelan 1 is a peel that is suitable for all skin types. Most classic peels are on and off within a matter of minutes, but Cosmelan 1 is a mask that is applied to the face. Over the next 8 - 10 hours the pigment stabilising and peeling agents in the mask permeate gently through the skin, reaching the deep layers and the pigment cells. The pigment stabilising agents, all plant extracts, ensure that there is no rebound hyperpigmentation during the peeling phase. This would otherwise be a risk in darker skins. The peeling agents separate the pigmented upper layers from the new skin underneath and the peeling starts the next day. The skin will be red and peeling over the next four to five days during which a recovery cream is applied.

The initial phase of peeling and removal of pigment is followed by the maintenance phase. This is where Cosmelan 2 cream comes in. This is a more mild form of Cosmelan 1 and ensures that the pigment cells are completely stabilised and that no further pigmentation develops. Cosmelan 2 should be continued for up to a year in order to achieve best results. The pigment cells will eventually "forget" to make excess pigment when treated with Cosmelan 1 and 2 and with UV avoidance, which should be as strict as possible in the first year.

You don't have to go through the full Cosmelan treatment with its attendant down time. Gentle peeling will remove the uppermost layers of pigmented skin and when combined with Cosmelan 2 will achieve similar results but just take a bit longer.

Cosmelan 2 cream alone will also achieve results and is useful for smaller patches of light pigmentation.