In a contest of most challenging skin concerns, hyperpigmentation would take first place every time. But that doesn’t mean your complexion has to lose out! Taking a closer look at the causes and identifying key ingredients can help send dark spots packing. Here’s what you need to know to prevent and treat hyperpigmentation.
What is hyperpigmentation?
Hyperpigmentation refers to any flat discoloured patch, or dark spot, of excess melanin (or pigment) that appears on the surface of the skin. Your individual level of melanin not only provides your hair, eye and skin colour but is also a natural and essential shield for your epidermis against UV exposure and contributes to whether you’re more or less likely to tan or burn. Hyperpigmentation is typically darker and larger than an average freckle and appears commonly on the areas of your body that get the most sun exposure, such as your face, your chest and the backs of your hands. The tops of your shoulders and along your upper back are also popular zones for dark spots to pop up. As you’ll soon discover, the link between melanin and sun exposure plays a big role in the development of hyperpigmentation. While dark spots can be more prevalent in those who fall into the mid-range of skin tones, they can occur on any complexion from very pale to deeply pigmented.
What causes hyperpigmentation?
There are a few causes of hyperpigmentation, and you’ve probably already guessed the major one: the sun! In addition to sun damage caused by UV light, dark spots can occur because of inflammation, such as acne, eczema or psoriasis, or a wound healing from a cut, burn or bug bite. Heat and hormonal changes can also lead to the development of hyperpigmentation. Often referred to as “pregnancy mask,” melasma is a common skin condition that creates small patches of discoloration on the face of an expectant woman.
Whatever the source, hyperpigmentation is an intricate process. While dark spots always show up on the surface of the skin, those various causes leave a mark by kicking off a biological response far below. Your body’s natural melanin production takes place deep within the epidermis, and each of those causes can act as a stressor that impacts the cycle. When the enzyme tyrosinase is triggered, an overproduction of melanin occurs and over time, that cluster of melanin makes its way to the surface. Ta-da! A dark spot appears. The drawn-out process is part of what makes hyperpigmentation so challenging to treat. While you’ll want to address visible dark spots, you also need to be protecting skin on an ongoing basis to prevent future hyperpigmentation from occurring.
How do you get rid of hyperpigmentation?
To create a skincare routine that will get rid of hyperpigmentation, you’ll need to treat both the upper and deeper layers of the skin. Start by incorporating gentle exfoliation into your routine to slough off dead discoloured skin cells. You can use a gentle chemical exfoliant ultra-fine face scrub two to three times a week.
Next, enlist the power of hard-working ingredients in the most efficacious formulas. Make face serums your go-to in the a.m. and p.m. They’re designed to deliver the highest concentration of active ingredients to skin compared to moisturizers, and with hyperpigmentation you’ll need formulas that get to the source of melanin-making issues. Two key ingredients rule the must-have list: vitamin C and niacinamide for dark spots. Ideal for morning use, vitamin C is a highly trusted antioxidant that helps prevent free-radical damage and inhibits melanin production to give skin a brightening boost. Not yet familiar with the powerhouse ingredient? Don’t miss out! A vitamin C serum , such as La Roche-Posay Pure Vitamin C10 Anti-Aging Serum, along with retinol and sunscreen, is often recommended by derms as the foundation of a universal skincare routine for healthy, even-toned skin. At night, put niacinamide to work. We’ll cover why it’s a game-changer in just a minute!
Last but not least, wearing sunscreen 24/7 is essential (with a capital E!) when treating hyperpigmentation from sun. It will not only prevent current dark spots from becoming darker (and therefore more difficult to fade) but also aid in protecting skin from UV exposure that can trigger an increase in melanin production. Find a sunscreen formula for your skin type and make it a part of your everyday routine—no excuses.
How does niacinamide help hyperpigmentation?
Also known as vitamin B5, niacinamide is a multi-tasking antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties that can help protect and soothe the skin while also noticeably reducing dark spots. It can help fade the look of current spots as well as minimize the development of new ones. Niacinamide skin benefits also include clearing congested skin. Regular use can lead to a reduction in the appearance of enlarged pores and an overall smoother texture. Talk about winning!
Choosing a concentrated formula, such as a niacinamide serum, will allow the ingredient to work where it’s needed most—at the deeper layers of the skin. La Roche-Posay Pure Niacinamide 10 Serum not only contains 10% niacinamide but is also blended with PHE resorcinol, which can inhibit tyrosinase (that excess-melanin troublemaker, remember?). Loaded with hyaluronic acid to deliver long-lasting hydration, the potent formula has been clinically proven to visibly correct dark spots in just one week. It also contains LHA, a derivative of salicylic acid, it offers a gentle form of exfoliation. After four weeks of use of this niacinamide serum, it was shown to reduce post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation by 47% and minimize dark-spot intensity by 22%. Offering an all-around positive impact on melanin production, it even boosted skin tone evenness by 20%.