If you ask 10 women what their primary skincare concern is, I am almost sure at least 6 out of 10 will tell you pigmentation of some sort. If you follow me on Instagram then you will know I have said several times that I got deeply into skincare due to the pigmentation I got from ingrown hair. However, my mistake was that I was treating the resulting pigmentation without treating the ingrown hair so it was a continuous cycle.
What is hyperpigmentation? Simply put, darkening of the skin. Excessive pigment.
What causes hyperpigmentation?It may be caused by sunburn from sun exposure, medication, post inflammatory hyperpigmentation, trauma, hormonal issues like pregnancy which gives a mask-like appearance. It could even the the result of chemical peels or products.
How do you treat pigmentation? It is usually best to prevent it and treat it but we know avoiding the sun completely is impossible and with pregnancy you may not be able to avoid melasma. One cardinal rule however is to treat the cause first….meaning if it is sunburn, wear sunscreen religiously and avoid the sun at peak hours, if it is PIH, treat the inflammation e.g acne, if it is ingrown hair, get laser then treat the pigmentation left behind.
Treatment: based on cause. Look for products with ingredients targeted at pigmentation and know that you need to mix and match as no single ingredient will tackle pigmentation.
- Alpha arbutin – GOW, Good Molecules, Skinbetter
- Kojic acid -GOW
- Azelaic Acid – GOW, Paulas choice, Sesderma, Mesoestetic Tranex
- Retinol – Neostrata, Obagi, Medik8, Skinceuticals Paula’s Choice are some of the best. Retinoids like Tretinoin also work and are double pronged as it treats acne and pigmentation and is often combined with hydroquinone
- Other Tyrosinase inhibitors – Skinbetter, Mesoestetic Serums
- Niacinamide – GOW, Paula’s choice, Good Molecules, The Ordinary.
- Licorice extract – Good Molecules
- Tranexamic acid – Good Molecules, Skinceuticals
- Hydroquinone (controversial) comes in strengths of 2 to 4%
- Enzymes – Bromelain, Papain – UrbanSkin Rx mask
- Alpha and Beta Hydroxy Acids (AHAs and BHAs) – Paula’s Choice, TLC Framboos, Good Genes, Jan Marini, Skinceuticals, GOW Mandelic acid. It could also be in form of toners like P50, Dennis Gross etc.
- Vitamin C – Timeless, Paula’s choice, Skinceuticals, Obagi, Naturium. Know that this will help overall brightening and may not be as effective for spots.
- Cysteamine Hydrochloride: Cyspera. A new topical innovative treatment for hyperpigmentation
Sometimes the pigmentation may defy topical treatments and you may need in-clinic treatments like chemical peels, laser. Your provider will advise on which is best for you
Points to note
- Exfoliate safely. The serums especially the AHA and BHA are “actives” and increase your sensitivity to the sun.
- Wear sunscreen. Apply and reapply. At least SPF 30 minimum.
- Wear protective clothing – hats, umbrellas even with sunscreen
- Avoid the sun at peak hours 10am to 4pm if you can.
- Be consistent with treatments and most importantly, be patient.
Do you suffer from hyperpigmentation? What has helped? I would love to hear from you