Hyperpigmentation - something many of us suffer from without the knowledge or the means to treat. Basically, it's a broad science-y term used to describe the areas of skin that become discoloured due to excess melanin production - usually limited to the face, neck, hands and chest. Usually, it presents as solar lentigines, also known as sun, age or liver spots; and melasma, or ‘the mask of pregnancy’.
Wondering how to figure out whether you have hyperpigmentation? Sun spots affects up to 50% of Aussies over the age of 40 - they're smooth to the touch, and usually flat brown, grey or even black. Melasma on the other hand causes dark, blotchy or uneven skin tone and usually occurs in women in their mid 20s and 30s, particularly during pregnancy (hence the name!). If you're nodding your head at any of these signs - don't stress, both sun spots and melasma are harmless - despite their less than desirable appearance.
Luckily for us, Enlighten by Evidence Skincare (ESK) is here to save the day. The main ingredient in this beauty elixir is 4-n-Butylresorcinol (and there it is - the ingredient we can't pronounce!) along with antioxidant multitasker, niacinamide (vitamin B3). 4nB is proven to be the most effective depigmenting agent out there - with results in as little as six weeks!
Enlighten aims to improve your skin's moisture, reduce the transfer of melanin to keratinocytes where pigment is deposited, and help to regulate normal skin cell function. In an added bonus, the super effective formula can also help balance sebum production (goodbye oily skin), increase collagen synthesis, and reduce post-inflammatory redness.
The formula is designed to be used every day - and you best believe we'll be applying it EVERY day.
To round things off, we spoke to ESK co-founder, Dr. Ginni Mansberg, about all things skin damage, science, skincare, sun care, and that magical ingredient - 4-n-beautal-resorcinol or 4nB.
Tell us about you and your background?
I am a GP based in Sydney specialising in family and women’s medicine, Channel 7’s Doctor, co-founder of Evidence Skincare (ESK) with my husband Daniel, an author, board director, podcaster and consultant. I am also mother of a family comprising 6 kids, and as long as the kids aren’t listening – doting mother of two dogs.
How did you come to establish Evidence Skincare (ESK)?
It’s a journey that was quite a few years in the making. I had skin that was not great to start with, with acne as a teen that was morphing in Rosacea as an adult. As a TV doctor who wasn’t getting any younger, I was always looking for a good skin care regime. One that was evidence based and effective, and because I so often feel time pressured, one that’s quick and easy to use. No matter how may products I tried, I could not find ones that met those criteria. More frustratingly, what I found mostly were companies using marketing pseudo-science targeting the insecurities of their audience.
In 2012 after doing a number of TV segments on cosmetic medicine and skincare, I hit peak frustration. So together with my husband, I set out to create a range of skin care that was everything that I was looking for (and nothing like what I could find in the market). With exactly no experience in small business, manufacturing or distribution but with a desire to create something unique that we thought consumers were looking for, we got started. We worked with doctors, dermatologists and scientists to create a range that was evidence based, effective, easy to use and ethical. Initially the products were only available through medical practitioners, and in 2016 we expanded to launch ESK.
What types of sun damage are different age groups susceptible to?
We are all susceptible to the same type of sun damage and it arises primarily from exposure to the sun’s UVA and UVB rays. UVB rays are the ones that give rise to sunburn and are strongest in the middle of the day in summer. Exposure to these rays can lead to skin cancer and also premature ageing. Very young children are most susceptible, but there is never a good age to get sunburn. UVA rays are primarily responsible for tanning. They are mostly constant throughout the day and the year and are the ones which following long term accumulated exposure are responsible for accelerated skin ageing.
What active ingredients are beneficial in the treatment of sun damage?
There are a few ingredients but hands down the best studied and most effective is Vitamin A. In fact, Vitamin A was one of the reasons we started ESK. The best evidence is for prescription Vitamin A, but it is very irritating. Of the non-prescription forms, the evidence for Retinal is clear it is the most effective and least irritating form of Vitamin A and has been shown to be similar in effectiveness to prescription Vitamin A. That’s the easy part, finding a range that uses it is not! The other ingredients that have evidence for helping are Vitamin C, Vitamin B3 and Alpha Hydroxy Acids and 4-n-B.
What inspired you to create a product using 4-n-B as opposed to the mainstream alternative, hydroquinone?
Hydroquinone is an ingredient that works by suppressing Tyrosinase, a precursor to melanin – the pigment in our skin. While it is a mechanism that is slow to work, that pathway is considered the most effective for targeting depigmentation, and that’s why Hydroquinone remains the gold standard ingredient for depigmentation - but it has its limitations and increasingly, safety concerns. These have led to it being banned in a number of countries and heavily restricted in others. One of our principles is not to use ingredients with known or suspected harm. So we looked at the evidence to find a Tyrosinase inhibitor with good effectiveness and a good safety profile. 4-n-B not only meets the criteria but is the only Tyrosinase inhibitor with good evidence and safety profile that we found. We didn’t set out to be different for the sake of being different, we just followed the evidence. To our surprise that continues to make us different.
What’s on the horizon for Evidence Skincare (ESK) in 2020-21?
We are not resting on our laurels. New evidence is emerging all the time and we’re constantly reviewing the studies and the evidence to ensure that our products are based on the most up to date science available. There are a couple of new ingredients that have caught our eye..... watch this space!
If you could create any product what would it be?
The most effective evidence-based product with zero risk of irritation. That’s the dream!
Ready to tackle hyperpigmentation? Get your hands on your very own serum HERE.
WORDS | Lucy Francis, TLSE, Dr. Ginni Mansberg, ESK Skincare co-founder
IMAGES | Supplied