Treating Hyperpigmentation – My Experience
If I had a dollar for every time I am asked about hyperpigmentation on Instagram, I probably would be rich by now! (ok…slight exaggeration but you get what I mean). Hyperpigmentation is a pretty common skincare condition which is basically an increase in melanin production and can be caused by numerous factors from acne, sun damage, medication, hormonal imbalance or other disease conditions. Usually, most people are in a hurry and forget the damage was done over time and try to fade the pigmentation in two weeks. With hyperpigmentation, there are quite a number of factors to take into account when treating
- Know the underlying cause
- Treat the underlying cause (hyperpigmentation is the effect of the cause). For instance, I was treating spots from ingrown hair, when what I should have done was treat the ingrown hair first then treat the spots left behind.
- Treat the resulting pigmentation
- Be consistent
- Be patient
Here are some of the ways I treated mine (not that it is completely gone)
Cause: spots along my jaw from ingrown hair and sun damage
What I used:
- Proper cleansing: one of the ways to get pigmentation is from breakouts. If you don’t take off make up and sunscreen properly, it may lead to problems. Always double cleanse! Personally I don’t think any cleanser brightens even the ones marketed as brightening but then each skin is different.
- Chemical exfoliants: this is two-pronged; toners (physical/chemical) and serums
- I used my favourite toner P50 from Biologique Recherche which I found to be more effective than the PIGM 400 I used in the past. I am usually not a fan of physical exfoliants but the UrbanSkinRx Lacticglow Micropolish cleanser surprised me. Its a cleanser with fine granules in it and best used on damp skin. Not to be used everyday though.I also used the Dr Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peel Pads once a week. All of the above mentioned contained a mix of glycolic, lactic and salicylic acids which are AHAs and BHAs and best for pigmentation, general resurfacing and congestion.
- Serums: these are the heavy lifters. When hyperpigmentation is discussed, one of the first treatments that pops to mind is Vitamin C serums. However, because they oxidize easily and not effective on individual spots, I do not use vitamin c. If overall brightening especially after sun damage is your goal, I highly recommend vitamin c serum. Other ingredients to look out for include Azelaic acid which helps pigmentation and smoothens the skin, AHAs (glycolic, lactic and salicylic acid), tyrosinase inhibitors like hydroquinone which offers the strongest form of prevention and correction against hyperpigmentation but should be used carefully and under supervision,licorice root, mulberry extract, kojic acid, arbutin, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate. Although Niacinamide is not marketed solely for pigmentation, it also helps.
- Specific products I used and I found effective include; Sunday Riley Good Genes, GOW Niacinamide, GOW Alpha Arbutin & Kojic Acid,GOW Azelaic acid, Skin Better Even Tone Correcting Serum, Tretinoin (proceed with caution as well), GOW Mandelic acid serum, UrbanSkinRx EvenTone Night Treatment, GOW 1% Retinol.
- One thing people forget about when treating pigmentation or any skin issue is hydration! Hydration plays a huge role in treating other skin conditions besides dehydration. So I included a hyaluronic acid serum in my routine.
- My typical AM Routine: Krave Matcha Hydrating Cleanser, P50, GOW Azelaic Acid OR Alpha Arbutin, Hada Labo Lotion, Altruist Sunscreen
- My typical PM routine: oil or balm cleanser or micellar water followed by Jordan Samuel Skin Aftershow Treatment Cleanser or any cleanser at all then any of the following combinations;, Sunday Riley Good Genes and Retinol (experienced skin) OR Niacinamide and Retinol (this combination is amazing), OR Retinol and hyaluronic acid OR SkinBetter and Retinol. Feel free to mix and match but with Tretinoin the only combination should be with niacinamide or hyaluronic if you need to as it is quite intense.
- Sunscreen: this is non-negotiable. SPF 50 ..no less…..in my opinion. If you do every single thing and you do not wear sunscreen, it’s like running around in circles. Don’t forget to re-apply every two hours. This is not the time for Korean or Japanese sunscreen especially if it is really sunny where you are. I love them but they are not enough for the Lagos sun.I understand the temptation to lean towards K beauty sunscreen due to the dreaded white cast from other sunscreens on the market but there are loads of sunscreen lotions that do not leave a cast; Altruist Dermatologist Sunscreen, Eucerin Oil control Sun Gel Creme, Elta MD, Obagi, Laroche Posay, Depiwhite and so many others. The Neostrata Sheer Physical Protection is hit and miss but I was fine looking like Casper than having pigmentation.
- Skin treatments: Laser hair removal to treat ingrown hair, I had dermaplaning, microdermabrasion, hydrafacial as well as occasional facials. I plan to get a chemical peel next week to further enhance results maintain with skincare products. Other treatments like PRP, microneedling and laser but I have never tried these as I don’t think my pigmentation is severe enough for those treatments.
Hyperpigmentation is a work in progress, do not let anyone sell you anything that will work in 7 days as it will be detrimental to your skin and health.I have been on the battle against pigmentation for years and only just got better in the last two years as I have more information now I would do an updated post after my peel and new regimen.
Hope this helped?
Let me know how you are treating or have treated pigmentation