Just as we all have different skin tones, our skins react differently to the effects of UV rays and cellular ageing. This is because pigmentation plays an important role. It is therefore important to understand its characteristics and the problems that can affect it in order to adapt cosmetic and dermatological treatments.
Definition: what is skin pigmentation ?
Everyone has a phototype, a category that defines how their skin reacts to sunlight. This phototype influences the natural colour of the skin, as the areas least exposed to the sun are lighter. This natural colour is due to pigments called melanin. They are secreted in two forms by the body.
Firstly, there are the eumelanins, which have a tint ranging from brown to black. They are also called “true melanin”. The body also produces pheomelanins or “red melanin” which are sensitive to UV light.
Each organism secretes these two types of melanin in a ratio that differs from one individual to another. Light skins that do not tolerate sun exposure well are the result of a high production of pheomelanins. Dark skins that tan much better are the result of an abundance of eumelanins.
How does skin pigmentation work ?
The body synthesises substances that stimulate skin pigmentation. At the same time, the UV rays emitted by the sun influence this pigmentation. These two phenomena are therefore at the origin of the production of melanocytes, cells that synthesise both types of melanin.
The melanin produced diffuses naturally and automatically through the many layers of the epidermis.
As the skin cells renew themselves regularly, the pigments migrate evenly to the surface.
The colour of the skin can change depending on sun exposure. In summer, eumelanins, which provide natural UV protection, promote a tanned complexion. In contrast, pheomelanins, which are sensitive to UV light, tend to react with redness or even sunburn. Over the course of the cell renewal cycles, the skin gradually regains its natural colour, making the traces of tanning and/or burning disappear.
The various problems linked to skin pigmentation
Many factors can disrupt the melanin production cycle, causing uneven pigmentation in different areas of the skin. These pathologies are classified into two categories: hyperpigmentation, which refers to brown patches, and hypopigmentation, which manifests itself as light patches.
Hyperpigmentation occurs when the body secretes too much melanin. This is particularly the case for people whose skin is excessively exposed to the sun’s UV rays. These are usually active people whose working conditions involve long days outdoors, such as construction workers. The round, flat brown spots are scattered but mainly affect the face, neck and nape of the neck, as well as the hands, as these are the areas most exposed to UV radiation.
After the age of 50, all skin types can develop solar lentigo or senile lentigo. This is because brown spots are also the result of cell ageing and are exacerbated by the accumulation of UV exposure over time. 90% of fair-skinned people are affected by age-related lentigo.
Hormonal changes are another factor that can cause skin pigmentation disorders. Pregnant women and those taking hormone-based contraceptives may notice the formation of brown spots. These spots will naturally fade and disappear when the hormonal secretion returns to balance.
Hypopigmentation is the consequence of genetic factors such as vitiligo, albinism or atopic dermatitis. This decrease in melanin production can also result from an injury, such as a burn. As a result, spots that are lighter than the natural colour of the skin appear on various areas.
Presentation of the company Phenocell
Phenocell is a company located in the city of Grasse, France. It has the status of a CRO, i.e. a contract research organisation. The research in question focuses on preclinical analyses.
Cells are generated and developed in-vitro by the Phenocell team. Thanks to the new technologies, multiple trials are carried out both in the dermatological field and in an ophthalmological approach. The resulting results are used to identify appropriate treatment protocols.
The role that Phenocell’s technology can play in skin pigmentation
Phenocell is a leader in cellular analysis using the latest technological advances. As the company carries out tests on all skin types, it is able to suggest individualised and therefore relevant solutions. The pigmentation of the skin is studied in great detail.
The technology developed by the CRO makes it possible to identify treatments for pathologies according to their origin, the way they manifest themselves, but also taking into account the characteristics of the natural pigmentation.
Cosmetic and dermatological solutions can now be developed through further research. The corresponding care products therefore take greater account of the skin’s pigmentation.