Hyperpigmentation 101

Understanding the types and causes of and treatments for hyperpigmentation


Having an even complexion gives you a youthful glow. When our skin tone isn’t even due to hyperpigmentation, we may try to cover it up with lots of makeup or go through product after product trying to lighten the skin.


We’re all about skincare first over here! We encourage our skin friends to understand the root cause of the problem first to truly connect with the treatment and keep you more consistent. Hyperpigmentation is no different. Let’s break down exactly what it is: the types, causes, and treatments that anyone who wants a more even skin tone should know before they buy a single skincare product.


What is hyperpigmentation?

In a nutshell, hyperpigmentation occurs when excess melanin in the skin causes dark spots or patches to appear. These can be brown, black, gray, red, or pink.


What causes hyperpigmentation?

There are a few reasons that hyperpigmentation happens:

  • Age spots. Brown, tan, or black spots that occur for older people with extended sun exposure.
  • Melasma. Large patches of dark skin on the forehead or face. This usually occurs in women who are pregnant or taking birth control and those with medium-to-dark skin.
  • Post-inflammatory trauma. Skin can become darker after inflammation from a skin condition like acne, eczema, or psoriasis.

Skincare products that fade hyperpigmentation

OK, Skin Friend. I know dealing with dark spots can be super frustrating and you’re ready to buy whatever skincare product that promises to quickly fade dark spots. I get it. But I beg you, please book a skincare consultation with an esthetician first before you spend any more money on skincare products for hyperpigmentation. Even virtually.


That said, your esthetician will probably recommend products that have these dark spot-correcting ingredients:

  • Aloe Leaf Juice: Hydrating plant botanical known for its soothing properties and antioxidant qualities.
  • Kojic Acid: A naturally-derived, skin-brightening ingredient that corrects uneven skin tones.
  • Lactic Acid: An exfoliating alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that kills bacteria, lessens acne and increases skin cell turnover.
  • Niacinamide: Also known as Vitamin B3, helps fight and protect the skin against further damage.
  • Licorice Root Extract: Plant extract with skin-soothing properties that's often used to help even out the skin tone.
  • Retinols. Retinols chemically exfoliate your skin and help block the receptors that regulate how much pigment comes out of the skin. In addition, retinols can lighten your skin and improve the look of fine lines, wrinkles and discoloration.
  • Sunscreen: If your esthetician doesn’t emphasize the importance of sunscreen, run. Sunscreen helps to prevent hyperpigmentation from worsening while your other products and treatments work for you.

How to use products for treating hyperpigmentation

Now that you know the effective ingredients needed to fade discoloration, let’s be clear about how to use these ingredients in your daily skincare routine so you can start to see and maintain results. It’s not just about using the right products; you have to use them correctly and consistently.


  1. A cleanser to gently cleanse the skin while treating and blocking hyperpigmentation.
  2. A toner with brightening benefits to tone and tighten your pores. .
  3. A serum to target hyperpigmentation and re-texturize the skin for a smoother, more even complexion.. 
  4. A moisturizer to replenish the skin's moisture barrier without any clogging,
  5. Sunscreen to protect against the damaging effects of UV radiation exposure and prevent spots from darkening even more.

Your daily skincare routine should focus on purposefully layering on products that cleanse, tone, heal, and protect your skin. It’s not a chore, it’s giving yourself the best treatment so you feel (and look) your best.

Skin treatments for hyperpigmentation

You may need professional skincare treatments to treat your dark spots, depending on their severity. You’ll need to schedule multiple sessions to see significant results.


A chemical peel might be a good option to treat hyperpigmentation if you don’t have to be in the sun regularly. For this process, an esthetician uses professional-grade acids to remove the epidermis and reduce the appearance of dark spots. This treatment uses creams that are a higher concentration than what you’d find over the counter, but your skin will be extra sensitive to sunlight for about a week.


Laser treatment is also an option. Laser peels use beams of light at varying strengths to resurface the skin. Depending on the laser type and the severity of the hyperpigmentation, the laser can remove layers of the skin or target the outer layer of the skin to encourage tightening.


Microdermabrasion is another in-person treatment that targets dark spots that only impact the outer layer of the skin. Your esthetician will use a drill-like handheld tool to gently and rapidly remove the outer layer of skin.


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