We spoke with Nuria Ortiz, Doctor in Biological Sciences, Master in Advanced Cosmetics and Vitae educator, with more than 15 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry as an expert in facial, hair and body democosmetics. Passionate about dermatology comprehensive care and people, in recent years before joining Vitae, she worked as Sales and Training Consultant, developing high-performance teams in pharmacy, according to the Category Management method. We did an interview with Nuria talking about sunspots, how to prevent them and eliminate them if they have already appeared.
What is a sunspot and how does it occur?
It is a cluster of a pigment called melanin, fundamentally. Melanin is produced by a cell called a melanocyte , which is what gives color to hair, skin, etc. It is our first defense against solar radiation. When solar radiation strikes the skin, the keratinocytes , the majority of cells, “rebel” and become “alert” and generate signals (hormones or others) that reach the melanocyte . When this happens, the melanocyte , which supports 36 cells ( keratinocytes ), lengthens its arms and transfers melanin to them, which goes to the nucleus and surrounds it for protection.
Without sun there are no sunspots. The sunspots are linked to the sun as the sun to the shadow. If we were under cover all day, we wouldn’t have sunspots. Inflammation and hormones can also cause sunspots, although the main agent is the sun.
The first thing to do is avoid the problem and keep in mind that for the sun’s rays to penetrate our body we do not need to be directly exposed to the sun, the one that enters through the window can also cause damage.
How can we prevent sunspots from appearing?
The first thing we have to keep in mind is that daily protection should be essential, whether we are on the street, at home or anywhere else. By sun protection we mean topical and oral photoprotection. 90% of the damage occurs in the deep layers of the skin (dermis and hypodermis), which is why we need to use oral photoprotection or sunscreen .
This double protection will serve to protect us from sunspots and other elements such as wrinkles, loss of firmness, pathologies such as rosacea, among others.
The sun has many benefits for us, it activates hormones and receptors that directly affect our mood, it also provides us with vitamin D, etc. It is absolutely necessary for life, but it also has negative effects that we have to take into account, not only for aesthetic reasons but also for health reasons.
How to remove sunspots?
The melanocyte produces melanin and begins to pass it on, but there comes a time when it is super excited, it loses the notion of the correct production of melanin and begins to produce melanin without stopping, whether there is sun or not. Over the years we have fewer melanocytes and for this reason we have a different pigmentation over the years. There are many factors that cause the melanocyte to get out of control, so sooner or later, to a greater or lesser extent, we are all going to get sunspots.
The first thing to do is PREVENT. If we are not on time, what needs to be done is to prevent the production of melanin. There are active ingredients such as hydroquinones, arbutin or azelaic capable of performing this action. This will prevent the formation of melanin and its transfer, that is, even if it is produced, we will not see it. If the melanin has been transferred we have to cut it as if it were a tree. If we have had a sunspot for a long time, it will take longer than if we have had that sunspots for less time. To remove the sunspots superficially, we will do it with retinoids or hydroxy acids.
In our routine, we cannot miss the double cleansing and some of these active ingredients that we have mentioned together with a good cocktail of antioxidants, essential to prevent free radicals from damaging our skin. Finally, we should also incorporate a topical and oral sunscreen to prevent future spots and treat them from the inside.
Sunspots cannot be removed from the root because the melanocyte is very deep and it is very difficult to reach it. What we have to do is remove it from the outside and prevent it from going any further.
How does oral photoprotection work?
A sunscreen, whether inside or out, the first thing it should do is protect us, that’s why we have to look for sunscreens that protect us from the entire solar spectrum. To protect ourselves from the inside there are very interesting active ingredients, such as:
- Polyphenols (the most powerful antioxidants that exist in nature) from rosemary and grapefruit. There is scientific evidence that shows that the combination of these polyphenols offers us total protection from the entire solar spectrum. These polyphenols are going to prevent the melanocyte from being super stressed and, therefore, the melanin is distributed evenly, so that we have more firmness and that we can resist more solar radiation.
An oral photoprotector always has to be accompanied by a topical sunscreen.
Incorporating antioxidant foods in our diet is of vital importance to maintain good health, but a food supplement will provide us with a number of ingredients that would be very difficult to obtain through food. Oral supplementation must have a maximum concentration of active ingredients and should have clinical studies that support its formulas.