Nearly 45% of women in the UK worry about skin hyperpigmentation, when areas of skin become darker than usual. Luckily a natural solution could be at hand; pycnogenol, which comes from the humble pine tree.
Pycnogenol is an extract from the bark of the French maritime pine tree, Pinus pinaster. It’s packed with a potent blend of natural antioxidants, which could make it a powerful weapon in the battle against hyperpigmentation.
Hyperpigmentation is caused when our skin produces too much melanin, the pigment that makes our skin go darker in the sun. There are several reasons skin is triggered to over-produce melanin, but pcynogenol could help to combat them.
The damage: UV light from sunshine and sunbeds ramps up melanin production. This helps to protect us from UV damage but also causes freckles and age spots. Sun exposure also tends to make hyperpigmentation caused by inflammation or hormonal factors worse.
The damage limitation: In 2012, Japanese researchers found women taking a pycnogenol supplement every day for three months experienced a decrease in age spot pigmentation.
The damage: Trauma and inflammation can trigger melanin production as part of the immune response. This is why inflammatory skin conditions such as acne and eczema – and injuries like burns and scratches – sometimes leave behind hyper-pigmented ‘scars’ when they heal.
The damage limitation: One study followed 50 women undergoing intense pulsed light (IPL) treatment, which is known to cause post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, and split them into two groups. No one in the group taking pcynogenol developed hyperpigmentation, while two in the placebo group did.
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The damage: Fluctuations in oestrogen and progesterone could also stimulate melanin production. Known as melasma, or chloasma, it’s most common in pregnancy but the contraceptive pill can also cause hyperpigmentation.
The damage limitation: A trial published in the journal Phytotherapy Research in 2002 followed 30 women with melasma taking pycnogenol for 30 days. The pine bark extract appeared to reduce the intensity and area of hyperpigmentation. In another trial, 94% of women who took pcynogenol every day for 90 days said their skin ‘significantly’ improved.