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A Comprehensive Guide on Hyperpigmentation Treatment for Dark Skin

woman with face cream on her cheeks

When your skincare goals are somewhere between off-duty runway model and total goddess, any blemish can drive you nuts. Especially when you’re doing everything right!

Sometimes, though, our skin is just going to do what it’s going to do, and all you can do is treat it with kindness… and also make sure you know what’s going on so you can tailor your skincare routine to the result you want.

If hyperpigmentation is interfering with your glow-up, there are many different tactics you can use to treat it, reduce its appearance, and prevent it from happening again. But first…

What Is Hyperpigmentation?

Melanin is a pigment present in the skin. Everybody has melanin, but it’s much more present in your skin tone.

Hyperpigmentation is just an excess of melanin forming in your skin, so some areas appear darker than others. Because melanin is already more present in people with darker complexions, hyperpigmentation is one of the most commonly diagnosed skin conditions for people of color.

Hyperpigmentation can occur in the outer tissue layer of your skin, the inner layer of your skin— or even both. The outermost layer is called the epidermis, and hyperpigmentation here is easier to treat than hyperpigmentation at a deeper layer.

If you find yourself developing hyperpigmentation, and you’re unhappy with it, it’s worth paying close attention and even speaking to a dermatologist.

Hyperpigmentation is common, but always consult with your doctor if you notice any unusual spots! It isn’t like noticing a dark spot after a long summer of too much sun and having to worry about what it might mean.

The only real impact of hyperpigmentation is psychological—if you don’t like the way it looks, it can be a very frustrating and stressful hindrance to your quality of life. But because it tends to be more common, more severe and longer-lasting in black skin particularly, it’s good to be aware so you can take preventative steps.

What Does Hyperpigmentation Look Like on Dark Skin?

Hyperpigmentation, as we’ve said, is just an excess of melanin in one of the layers of your skin—so of course, it’s an area or blemish that’s darker than your usual skin tone. Hyperpigmentation doesn’t present the same in everybody and can vary depending not only on your skin tone but also on its root cause.

Suppose you notice some discoloration in your skin tone that wasn’t there before. In that case, it’s always good to either keep an eye on it to see if it changes, darkens, or grows—or just seek an appointment with a trusted dermatologist to discuss your hyperpigmentation and learn more about treatment options.

How Do You Avoid Hyperpigmentation?

We know, we know—hearing that a skin condition may become permanent can seem really scary! Luckily, there are ways to prevent hyperpigmentation from occurring, although you can’t always prevent all of the underlying causes of hyperpigmentation.

But if you’re looking to lessen your risk, we recommend the following.

1. Sunscreen!

You’ve heard it before, but there really is no better way to protect your skin from any potential damage than the regular use of SPF. Urban Skin Rx® offers Complexion Protection Moisturizer SPF 30™ , a great, non-pore clogging way to tone, hydrate and protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays.

If you want to protect yourself with a non-nano mineral sunscreen formula that also doubles as a moisturizer, using an all-arounder like SheerGlow™ Even Tone Daily Defense Mineral Moisturizer SPF 30 is a great option to get the best of both worlds.

You could also just stay out of the sun… but who wants that?

2. Keep Your Skin Calm

Hyperpigmentation can flare up if your skin is irritated. If you’re adding anything to your skincare routine, it’s important to do so mindfully!

Be sure to introduce only one new product at a time, so if you have a bad reaction, you know what caused it, and can immediately stop using it so as not to aggravate your skin further. It’s also great to get a smaller product size so you’re not breaking the bank for something that might not vibe with your current routine.

Especially if you’re introducing something into your routine like Retinol or a chemical exfoliant, it’s worth doing so slowly. Using too much too fast can irritate or dry out your skin, so start with once or twice a week and build up usage as you like. And of course, the golden rule: never go to sleep with your makeup on.

3. If You Have a Skin Condition, Don’t Skimp on Your Treatment!

If one treatment is working really well for you, it’s easy to forget over time why you needed it in the first place and get a bit slack about keeping up with it. But suppose you have a darker complexion and are looking to avoid hyperpigmentation. In that case, it’s important to seek treatment for any skin conditions and use any treatments or take any medications exactly as directed.

Whether it’s a skin-specific condition like acne or eczema, or a health condition that can impact the health of your skin like psoriasis or lupus, it’ll help keep hyperpigmentation at bay, or at least prevent new spots from forming, if you stay up-to-date on whatever treatment your doctor or dermatologist recommends.

How Do You Get Hyperpigmentation?

Hyperpigmentation can occur as a result of many different things. On the downside, this means there’s no one way to prevent it. On the upside, it means if you’re having trouble treating your hyperpigmentation, you might just not have found the right treatment yet!

One of the more common causes of hyperpigmentation in people of color is Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH). It’s sort of a catch-all for anything that might injure or inflame your skin, like acne, eczema, contact dermatitis, or even insect bites, blisters and rashes. It appears around the site of the injury or irritant, whether it’s a blister, pimple or anything that might interfere with your skin’s usual flow.

Melasma is one of the larger forms of hyperpigmentation. It most commonly affects your face and jawline.

Unfortunately, we don’t actually know what causes melasma, although the best advice for avoiding it is the same advice for avoiding any unwanted dermal blemish: sunscreen and a healthy skincare routine.

How Do You Treat Hyperpigmentation?

If your hyperpigmentation is caused by an underlying condition, it is most important to treat that condition first! You might be able to find a product that reduces the appearance of your hyperpigmentation, but treating the symptom without treating the problem is a recipe for disaster.

You can help this process along by being super dedicated to wearing SPF, and keeping your skin clean, and avoiding any physical damage that might cause another flare-up when possible!

But if you’re looking for a heavy-hitter to bring into your skincare lineup to help clear up this frustrating issue, we have some recommendations.

1. Chemical Peels

Because hyperpigmentation gathers in layers of your skin, chemical peels are great for removing dead cells and top layers of your epidermis, which can really help with hyperpigmentation. However, if you have very dark, beautiful skin, be sure not to try this at home—you’re at higher risk for skin irritation, and thereby Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation… so be careful! You don’t want to end up in a vicious cycle.

2. Chemical Exfoliants

Using a cleanser or serum with AHAs or BHAs can do wonders for resurfacing and brightening your skin. If you’re not worried about the underlying cause of your hyperpigmentation, regular use of chemical exfoliants like our BrighterDays Dark Spot 8% AHA Polish are a great addition to your skincare routine to help brighten dark spots and even out your skin tone.

3. Oil-Free Moisturizer and SPF

Many people of color who struggle with hyperpigmentation also struggle with oily skin—so we’re sure this step may sound counterintuitive. Luckily, there are many options for great moisturizers for those of us with oily skin, and our HydraBalance Instant Moisture Infusion is a lightweight, non-pore clogging moisturizer that brings your skin the hydration it needs without adding any excess oil into the mix. Featuring hyaluronic acid, peptides, and squalane, this product works to bring intense moisture back into your skin with a subtle glow that won’t highlight any oily areas you may have.

Don’t forget SPF! Moisturizers can work wonders for your skin, but all of your skincare efforts might be in vain if you don’t protect your skin from sun exposure, too. Our ShineBlock™ Oil Control Moisturizer not only offers hydration, it also contains an SPF 30, so by using it, you can kill two birds with one stone.

4. Retinols or Retinoids

Retinols and Retinoids make up for all manner of skin sins, including hyperpigmentation. Especially if you suffer from hyperpigmentation around the eyes, we love Vitaleyez Retinol + Vitamin C Complex , because it has the added benefit of skin-brightening Vitamin C.

In Conclusion

Hyperpigmentation can be a frustrating barrier to having the gorgeous, gleaming skin we know you deserve! But with the right preventative care, dedication to the treatment of any underlying conditions and some clever tweaks to your skincare routine, there are many ways to help even out and brighten up your complexion so that you can live that #nofilter life.