Everything About Hyperpigmentation and How to Treat It

September 10, 2020

Hyperpigmentation, which causes dark spots, sun spots and uneven patches of skin on the face (during pregnancy is known as melasma)  is one of the most common skin conditions in the world, affecting millions of people with different skin types, tones, and of any age. But just because it’s common doesn’t mean it’s any less stressful or problematic for the people who struggle with it.

If you’re struggling with hyperpigmentation, chances are you’re looking for a way to get rid of it—and fast. We'll cover everything you need to know about how to treat damaged skin due to sun exposure or injury, some of the most common causes, and—most importantly—the best hyperpigmentation treatment to help you even out your skin and get rid of dark spots and patches once and for all:

What is hyperpigmentation?

Hyperpigmentation is the darkening of a specific area of skin due to an increased melanin. Your skin produces melanin as a way to protect itself from the sun (which leads to the “tan” appearance of skin after sun exposure), but a number of factors can cause melanin production to go into overdrive, leading to deposits in certain areas of the skin that appear as dark spots or patches across the face.

Hyperpigmentation causes

There are a number of hyperpigmentation causes that could contribute to discoloration of the skin. Some of the most common triggers for hyperpigmentation include:


The first (and arguably most common) culprit behind hyperpigmentation issues.

UV rays trigger the melanocytes in the skin to start producing pigment—and over time, too much exposure to the sun can trigger an overproduction of melanin, leading to hyperpigmentation. Sun exposure can also cause age spots or liver spots (as they are commonly called), freckles and uneven skin tone.

But does tanning help hyperpigmentation? Or can tanning even out hyperpigmentation? The answer to both these questions is no. In addition to causing hyperpigmentation, sun exposure (or exposure to artificial UV rays, like tanning beds) can actually worsen hyperpigmentation that originated from other causes (like post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation).


Another type of hyperpigmentation is melasma, also known as the mask of pregnancy is common in pregnant women, it appears on the face in areas like the forehead, chin and above the lip, due to hormonal changes. Women should wear appropriate sunscreens as skin pigmentation and discoloration can be exacerbated by sun exposure. Oral contraceptives ("the pill" can also cause skin conditions in some women.


Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (or PIH) is one of the leading causes of hyperpigmentation for black skin and other dark skin tones. PIH happens when pigment is produced in response to an injury to the skin, like a burn or hyperpigmentation from acne.


There are a number of reasons you might experience hyperpigmentation—but a major contributing factor is your skin tone. Certain skin tones are just more prone to hyperpigmentation to others- with hyperpigmentation of fair skin and darker skin being the most common. Because they naturally have more melanin in the skin, people with dark skin tones are more likely to struggle with hyperpigmentation. On the flip side, people with fair skin—because they don’t naturally produce much melanin—are more likely to struggle with hyperpigmentation as a result of sun damage.

Hyperpigmentation treatments

Ok, so now that we know where hyperpigmentation comes from, let’s talk about the important part—how to treat it.

Here are some of the best hyperpigmentation treatments you can work into your skincare routine if you want to even out your skin and get rid of hyperpigmentation for good:


The first—and most important—thing you can do to treat hyperpigmentation? Make sunscreen a non-negotiable step in your skincare routine. Even once you know how to get rid of dark skin from sun exposure, the best cure for hyperpigmentation will always be prevention - which sunscreen is an essential part of.

Like we mentioned earlier, not only can sun exposure cause hyperpigmentation, but it can also worsen it; just a few minutes in the sun unprotected can darken skin discoloration and make the problem harder to treat.

Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 every day—no exceptions. And if you’re planning on being outside for an extended period of time, make sure to reapply every two hours to keep your skin protected. Protective clothing, including a wide brimmed hat would be great for a day outside.


Will exfoliation remove hyperpigmentation? ​The good news is that yes, exfoliating can help to diminish the appearance of hyperpigmentation. When you exfoliate, you’re removing dirt and debris from the surface layer of skin—and that includes any discolored skin cells on the outer layers. Exfoliation will also allow any other products you’re using to treat your hyperpigmentation to penetrate deeper into the skin, increasing their efficacy—and delivering better results.

Look for a serum or treatment with glycolic acid or lactic acid to exfoliate the skin, stimulate cell turnover, and help to fade hyperpigmentation.


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Once you’ve got your sun protection and exfoliation down, you're going to want to look for skincare products to include in your hyperpigmentation regimen that will a) lighten dark spots, and b) brighten your overall complexion.

Educate yourself before choosing over-the-counter products. If they are too harsh, you may experience side effects like more skin issues or irritation. Some of the ingredients you’ll want to incorporate into your skincare regimen to treat hyperpigmentation and address dark spots and patches include these with brightening benefits:

Vitamin C, Licorice, Bearberry , Arbutin, Kojic acid - Niacinamide  - Azelaic acid

If your skin does not change with over-the-counter treatments, a visit to your dermatologist is a good idea. They can pinpoint causes of hyperpigmentation and how best to treat it. 

Take care of your skin, avoid unprotected sun exposure and neglect that can lead to skin issues, dark spots, discoloration and premature aging. Start a daily, personalized skincare regimen to protect your skin health, and to keep you looking and feeling your best, inside and out.

This​ article​ is originally posted on​ ​Proven Skincare.​

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