When it comes to ageing, we used to focus entirely on fine lines and wrinkles. But as we become more aware of the effects of pigmentation or uneven skin tone on our perceived age, the emphasis is shifting. Recent studies have shown that an even, unmottled complexion makes ur appear more youthful than would the absence of wrinkles. Says Angela Frazer of Prescription Skin Care ‘If you improve your overall skin tone, you can take 15 years off your perceived age.’

And now’s the time to take action, as we head into autumn (there is little point treating pigmentation over the summer months). Genetics, hormones such as changes during pregnancy and certain medications all effect pigmentation, ut sunlight is the major trigger.

That’s why a daily facial sunscreen should be your number one beauty product says Frazer. A zinc-based version is ideal, firstly because it is light and less likely to irritate sensitive skin but mostly because zinc is extra-effective at blocking out UVA, which are the rays that cause pigmentation.

Particularly on darker skins pigmentation may also occur as the skin responds to trauma, such as acne or even facial waxing. Here it might appear that the skin has a scar, when it is in fact dark pigmentation. In such cases treatments like IPL (Intense Pulsed LIght), when used to remedy the problem can in fact make the pigmentation worse.

That’s why its crucial to get a thorough consultation when you undergo treatment for pigmentation issues. At Prescription Skin Care, Frazer explains that the treatment will be customised to your skin type and lifestyle to yield the best results. Its not always best to bring out the big guns, whether that be IPL sessions or peels. These treatments can irritate some skin types potentientially making pigmentation worse. on many occasions an at-home skin care regime is a better choice. Advances in technology mean that these specialised products are not second-best options. Skin Medica Lytera, a new brightening product from the US has proven both extremely effective and gentle. PCA’s Pigment Gel is another excellent option (both available at Prescription Skin Care). Often these products will be recommended for use in conjunction with a series of peels.

One final point to remember is that whatever great results you may have from treatment, pigmentation is an ongoing condition and maintenance (such as zinc-based sunscreen) is a must – otherwise it’s easy for your skin to revert back to its old ways.