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How To Get Rid of Hyperpigmentation Scars

woman applying facial toner with cotton pad

There’s nothing more frustrating than knowing that the only thing standing between you and glowing skin are hyperpigmentation scars. At the same time, there are several different causes of hyperpigmentation, one of the most frustrating being Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH).

Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation is what happens when your skin starts producing too much melanin at the site of skin irritation.

If you had acne growing up, for example, you might find as you get older that the pimples and whiteheads clear up, but you’re left with dark spots and acne scars where the acne used to be.

PIH can be caused by anything from acne, sun exposure, dermatitis, or an area where you experienced repeated friction. It can also develop at the site of a burn or other injury. Sometimes, it almost feels like a punishment lumped on top of a punishment!

Other conditions can cause hyperpigmentation, ranging from hormone imbalances to melasma to sun damage. Hyperpigmentation may fade on its own over time, or it may just become a near-permanent part of your complexion. So while you can still look beautiful even with your hyperpigmentation scars, it’s not uncommon to want to look for a way to even out your skin tone, no matter the cause of your hyperpigmentation.

But it’s important to find the right treatment for you, your lifestyle, and your skin type. Not to mention, you also obviously want to find a treatment that seriously works and has long-term benefits for your skin concerns. So it’s important to consider not just what will give you the most immediate results but what will help you keep your skin tone even.

How Do You Get Rid of Hyperpigmentation Scars?

We’ve talked a lot about the different ways your skin can be affected by hyperpigmentation and what the root causes are.

While there is no permanent way to get rid of hyperpigmentation scars, there are treatments that may help reduce the appearance of scarring.

When focusing on PIH scars, you probably have a good sense of what exactly caused your hyperpigmentation. If you have a darker skin tone where you remember picking at a particularly bad pimple or on your hand where you burned your skin once, PIH can almost feel like a constant reminder of some less-than-amazing memories.

So let’s talk about ways to help even out your complexion and reduce the appearance of your hyperpigmentation scars long term so that you can create new memories with perfect confidence.

Retinols and Retinoids

You’ve probably heard of Retinols and Retinoids before. They’re pretty standard players in the average skincare maven’s lineup. Usually, though, you see these two power-hitters advertised as anti-aging agents.

While Retinols and Retinoids are crucial if you’re looking to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, they are also great for evening out skin tone, texture and minimizing the appearance of dark spots and scars.

Retinols and Retinoids are effectively the same ingredients if you’re wondering — that’s why their names are so similar!

The main difference is that Retinoids are largely only available on a prescription basis, and Retinols can be found in over-the-counter products. Retinoids are stronger, but they can be a bit harsher on your skin. So if you’re considering Retinoids as opposed to Retinols, you’ll want to speak to your doctor or dermatologist before purchasing any products.

If your hyperpigmentation is particularly stubborn, a little R or R is a great option because, unlike other treatments, these two ingredients affect your skin on a cellular level. Some hyperpigmentation scars can affect more than just the top layer of your skin, so you want something that can help refresh your skin cells as deeply as possible.

If Retinols and Retinoids don’t appeal to you, you can also look for OTC products that include Bakuchiol, a gentler, plant-based alternative to Retinol.

Brightening Creams

There are several different ingredients you’ll want to look for in products when you’re pursuing a skin-brightening effect. There are tons of products out there on the market, so you’ll want to do a little thinking about what goes into those products.

It’s particularly important, no matter which product you choose, to ensure that the product you’re ordering comes from within the country you live in.

In the US, the FDA regulates some products that can go into skincare and cosmetics — it’s useful because it gives you a certain amount of trust in the product you’re using. If you are unsure if a product is FDA regulated, be sure to read the fine print on any products before purchasing it.

Other countries may have different regulations, so maybe think twice before ordering the highly reviewed product which has a label in a language you can’t read; it’s hard to know what you’re getting, and some ingredients that are advertised as having a “brightening” effect can actually be really harmful!

Brightening products do what it sounds like they do. Depending on which ingredient you use, they’re intended to inhibit or otherwise disrupt the way your skin creates, distributes, or holds onto pigment.

Hydroquinone is a common ingredient in brightening products, although there’s been some speculation lately about potential carcinogenic qualities. If that gives you pause, Tranexamic Acid boasts similar skin brightening effects without any of the potential drawbacks of Hydroquinone.

Our Advanced Even Tone Day & Night Treatment is a great product to work into your routine to tackle your hyperpigmentation scars with the power of Tranexamic Acid. Tranexamic Acid works by blocking one of the pathways your cells use to create and store pigment, so the appearance of dark spots will fade over time, leaving you with bright, more even-toned skin.


Microdermabrasion is an exfoliating process by which the outer layer of your skin is broken down and removed. This can be performed by a certified technician or dermatologist, but you can also try microneedling at home!

Microneedling uses a small tool such as our DermRenew Complexion Corrector Microneedling Tool ™ to help brighten and rejuvenate your skin and reduce the appearance of dark hyperpigmentation scars caused by melanin production.

If you’re looking for something more intensive, there’s also dermabrasion. Rather than just removing and rejuvenating your epidermis, which is the outer layer of your skin, it gets right down to the dermis to have a more substantial impact on your skin problems, like hyperpigmentation scars.

Microdermabrasion and dermabrasion shouldn’t be irritating. However, because it involves a bit more abrasive exfoliation than other treatments, it’s mostly recommended for individuals with fairer skin tones. Especially if PIH is a problem, dermabrasion may create more patches of hyperpigmentation due to treatment.

Ultimately, though, the decision to pursue a professional treatment should be between you and your dermatologist, so make sure you consult one before you make an appointment.

Chemical Exfoliants

If microdermabrasion, dermabrasion, or microneedling seems a little too intense for you, you might want to pursue chemical exfoliants or chemical peels.

Chemical exfoliants include Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) such as Glycolic Acid, Lactic Acid, and Citric Acid; Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs) like Salicylic Acid; and Poly Hydroxy Acids (PHAs) such as Gluconolactone and Lactobionic Acid.

PHAs tend to be gentle on your skin, though they’re also the least effective against different types of acne scars. Still, if you want to reduce the appearance of your hyperpigmentation scars, but your sensitive skin is standing in the way, they’re a great option for rejuvenating your complexion.

AHAs are really effective and super common in skincare products. Treatments like our Brighterdays™ Dark Spot 8% AHA Polish offer a potent dose of AHAs to help improve the appearance of your skin tone and brighten your complexion.

Lastly, BHAs are most common in products formulated to improve the appearance of acne. While they aren’t going to be your end-all, be-all for treating the appearance of hyperpigmentation, they’re clutch in cleansers and other products intended to clear out your pores. This is useful if you struggle with PIH because it will help keep your skin clear so that you don’t break out and get more hyperpigmentation scarring in the future.

In Conclusion

Hyperpigmentation scars are the worst. Even after you clear up the underlying cause, these aggravating patches can remain, darkening your complexion and getting in the way of your glow. If hyperpigmentation scars from acne or other skin complaints are getting between you and total confidence in your appearance, with or without makeup, try some of these treatments to help even out your skin tone and get your glow back.

By: Ivey Rogers Aesthetician Educator & Community
Engagement Manager