Hyperpigmentation is one of the most annoying skin concerns people suffer from. These usually appear as dark and stubborn spots that simply refuse to go away no matter what you do.
However, the key to successfully treating hyperpigmentation lies in understanding what is causing the hyperpigmentation. Once you’ve identified the root cause, you need to use the best ingredients for hyperpigmentation, and most importantly, stay consistent with your routine.
While we can’t do much about that last bit, we can help you with the first two.
Determining the Reason Behind Hyperpigmentation
Hyperpigmentation is basically when certain patches of your skin appear darker than the natural tone of your skin. It occurs due to an overproduction of melanin in those spots, and this can be triggered by many factors.
Any kind of trauma to the skin or inflammation can lead to hyperpigmentation. This includes acne, allergic reactions, laser treatments, sun exposure, and other inflammatory skin conditions1. This is also why hyperpigmentation is sometimes referred to as PIH (Post-inflammatory Hyperpigmentation).
Depending on the cause, the hyperpigmentation can sometimes be limited to the epidermis, which is the outermost layer of our skin or even goes to the dermis, which is a deeper layer and, therefore, harder to treat.
The Best Ingredients for Hyperpigmentation
The good news is that there are plenty of amazing skincare ingredients out there that can help you with those frustrating dark spots. Depending on the extent of your hyperpigmentation, skin type, skin color, etc., here are the best ingredients for hyperpigmentation.
Important Note: Before using any new ingredient or product, make sure you do a patch test to ensure that there aren’t any adverse reactions to it.
This is a bleaching agent that helps treat hyperpigmentation by not only fading dark spots but also inhibiting the production of melanin in your skin to prevent future hyperpigmentation. This is a good ingredient for all skin types and colors but can be slightly strong for people with sensitive skin.
Arbutin is the gentler and safer alternative to hydroquinone as it is one of its derivatives, but it does not cause the side complications caused by hydroquinone, which is why it is referred to in the dermatological world as the gentle giant, because of its strong and non-irritating effects, and its secret lies in its slow mechanism of action that ensures the inhibition of melanin synthesis And the growth of melanocytes, without irritating the skin, in addition to being ideal for people with dark skin.
Also known as L-ascorbic or simply ascorbic acid, Vitamin C is another effective ingredient. It has strong antioxidant properties that help treat any acne scarring and even out your overall skin tone. It further aids with collagen production and protects your skin from free radicals.
Retinoids are a common choice of ingredient in the skincare world. A derivative of Vitamin A, this ingredient promotes faster cell turnover to shed away the skin cells with the melanin and get rid of dark spots. Retinoids are quite effective on their own, but when used alongside hydroquinone and steroids, it’s an even more effective ingredient for treating hyperpigmentation.
Azelaic acid possesses strong anti-inflammatory properties, which is why it’s such a great ingredient for tackling hyperpigmentation. It is especially great at treating acne-related hyperpigmentation. And is quit gentle on the skin, However, it does not always suit people with a dark skin tone.
Kojic Acid is also another bleaching agent that can be used for dark spots as well as age spots. It becomes more effective when combined with other ingredients, such as hydroquinone and glycolic acid.
Other Effective Ingredients for Hyperpigmentation
Here are some more ingredients that can help with dark spots and pigmentation when added to other active ingredients:
- Hydroxy Acids
- Mandelic Acid
Besides all this, there are also some other daily habits that you can incorporate into your routine to treat or prevent hyperpigmentation.
This includes avoiding picking at any acne scars, keeping your skin hydrated and moisturized, and religiously applying sunscreen when going out or even if you’re at home but exposed to sunlight. Hopefully, you should start seeing the results you want in a couple of weeks!
- RN, L. H. (2019, May 21). PIH treatment. Retrieved February 6, 2021, from Sciencebecomesher.com
- Schwartz, C., Jan, A., & Zito, P. M. (2020). Hydroquinone. In StatPearls. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing.
- Davis, E. C., & Callender, V. D. (2010). Postinflammatory hyperpigmentation: a review of the epidemiology, clinical features, and treatment options in skin of color. The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, 3(7), 20–31.