Many women look in the mirror and see dark spots or discoloration. This hyperpigmentation can be attributed to environmental factors, biological and hormonal changes or even adverse reactions. Hyperpigmentation is a darkening of parts of the skin beyond its natural color due to an overabundance of melanin. Common forms of hyperpigmentation include:
- Age or sun spots: appear on skin after sun exposure and are common on face, hands, chest and arms (areas most exposed to the sun). These flat spots can be any shade of brown, grey or black.
- Melasma: larger patches of darkened skin can appear on the forehead, face and stomach when a change in hormones occurs (such as pregnancy or taking birth control pills) or due to sun exposure or even genetics.
- Injury and inflammation spots: appear on face and neck after inflammation from injury occurs, e.g., acne, eczema, abrasion, burns, reactions to peels and other skin treatments
While only a portion of people experiencing hyperpigmentation have melasma, even just this form affects approximately 5 million people in the United States with a prevalence rate up to 40% in certain populations like premenopausal Latina women.
If you want to learn more about hyperpigmentation, we’ve rounded up some common questions.
What causes hyperpigmentation?
Generally, hyperpigmentation is caused by an overproduction of melanin in specific spots. This melanin production can be triggered by a number of things like prolonged sun exposure (often resulting in what we call age spots), changes in hormones (which can result in melasma), skin conditions (like acne or psoriasis) or injury.
Does hyperpigmentation fade away naturally?
Unfortunately, this is not a yes-or-no question. Some forms of hyperpigmentation, like post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation caused by trauma to the skin, acne or other damage, may fade over time but there’s no guarantee. Hyperpigmentation caused by prolonged sun exposure likely worsens with time, especially on parts of the skin that are unprotected outside often, like hands. Determining if your hyperpigmentation will fade naturally takes time and relies on genetics and skin make-up, which is not something everyone wants to chance.
How can I prevent hyperpigmentation?
The first step to prevent hyperpigmentation is protecting the skin from common causes. You should use appropriate sun protection like SPF 30 or higher, hats and long sleeves to help defend against UV exposure. You’ll also want to avoid damaging the skin, which means no picking at scabs or acne and generally promoting calm, healthy skin.
After protecting against avoidable damage, you can prevent hyperpigmentation by interrupting the melanin production cycle with targeting skincare ingredients. For example, Kojic and phytic acids can help disrupt tyrosine, the first component in the production of melanin.
Hyperpigmentation At-Home Care
Is vitamin C or retinol better for hyperpigmentation?
Both vitamin C and retinol are powerful ingredients to combat hyperpigmentation. Neither is necessarily better, as they both help with different stages of hyperpigmentation. Vitamin C is an antioxidant and brightening agent. Retinol promotes cellular turnover and helps prevent the creation of melanosomes. Other effective ingredients to combat visible hyperpigmentation include glycolic acid, phytic acid, kojic acid and niacinamide.
What does Vitamin C serum do for your skin?
Vitamin C has many benefits. This powerful antioxidant can help neutralize free radicals and help promote collagen production. When it comes to hyperpigmentation, vitamin C serum can help inhibit melanin formation. Because vitamin C can oxidize quickly if exposed to light, quality vitamin C serums often include stabilizing ingredients like Ferulic acid.
Hyperpigmentation and Medical Care
How do you remove age spots?
While there are ways to fade and even remove age spots and hyperpigmentation at home, some may choose to pursue medical intervention to fully remove age spots. Dermatological procedures such as chemical peels and laser therapy can improve symptoms and speed up recovery time. For at-home care, chemical and physical exfoliating ingredients like acids and scrubs can help reduce the appearance of spots gradually.
What are some chemical peels for the face?
Chemical peels are used to remove dead or damaged skin cells and can be used to reduce hyperpigmentation. They come in three strengths and results will vary based on the severity of your peel.
- Superficial peels use mild acids like alpha-hydroxy acid to gently exfoliate. These treatments only penetrate the outermost layer of skin.
- Medium peels use trichloroacetic or glycolic acid to reach the middle and outer layer of skills. This makes it more effective for removing damaged skin cells. Downtime can take more than a week.
- Deep peels fully penetrate the middle layer of the skin to remove damaged skin cells. These peels often use phenol or trichloroacetic acid and downtime can last multiple weeks with redness, inflammation and irritation.
What’s the treatment for age-related skin pigmentation?
Treatment for hyperpigmentation will vary based on the severity of discoloration. If you have tried brightening products at home, a doctor or aesthetic professional may recommend treatments like deep chemical peels or laser treatments.
Is hyperpigmentation a symptom of something more serious?
If you have any concerns about your pigment spots – if they change shape, size and color or if they become itchy and start to bleed – it’s important that you consult your doctor. Certain medical conditions like Addison’s disease and hemochromatosis can also cause hyperpigmentation in different areas of the body.
Help Reduce the Appearance of Hyperpigmentation With Biopelle
Biopelle’s Brighten collection is designed to help lighten, even skin tone and minimize the look of hyperpigmentation. Biopelle Brighten is designed to work with the natural, daily rhythm of your skin, delivering brightening ingredients to your skin at the times it is most beneficial.
- XCP Brightening Serum provides antioxidant benefits with vitamin C, phytic acid, green tea extract and grape seed extract and helps improve the appearance of uneven skin tone and defend against free radicals.
- KNR Serum helps brighten skin tone and reduce the visible signs of hyperpigmentation with powerful ingredients like kojic acid and niacinamide. This power packed serum is further fortified with retinol to help support cellular turnover, and in turn, reduce the appearance of discoloration that has already occurred in the skin for visible improvements in tone and texture.
Other products that can help reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation include our exfoliating cleansers, found in both a cream and gel formula, which contain glycolic acid to help slough off dead skin cells.
Tensage Intensive Serum 40 is packed with growth factor benefits, vitamin C and vitamin E to help improve skin tone and defend against free radical damage. While Tensage Antioxidant Defense Serum combines SCA Biorepair Technology with ferulic acid and 10% vitamin C to both prevent free radical damage and help reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation.