Hyperpigmentation is such a bummer. It can also take a great toll on your mental health if you’ve suffered from hyperpigmentation for a long time. As a result of all this frustration, you may have tried every ingredient possible that helps with the brightening effect. You may have still not seen enough progress in reducing the marks and patches. Must you lose all hope? No way. We are here to tell you why you are not seeing results even after using the best formulations!
What is hyperpigmentation?
Hyperpigmentation is a skin condition that occurs where melanin (brown pigment) concentrates in a certain region due to multiple factors. Melanin is a pigment that is released by melanocytes (pigment-producing cells) and they contribute to giving color to the skin. When the skin cells are damaged, it signals the melanocytes to produce an excessive amount of melanin to protect that region from further external damage. Hyperpigmentation can be of many types and hence the course of treatment also changes with the type of hyperpigmentation. Here are a few common types of hyperpigmentation-
- Age spots
- Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH)
Want to know what could be potentially the type of pigmentation that you have? Read here.
What are the ingredients that work well for hyperpigmentation?
For hyperpigmentation, three points are key to treating it- hydration, brightening/melanin production inhibition, and protection. If you have these three in place in your routine then eventually you will see results. Let’s look at the products that can help you achieve these three points-
1. Snail Mucin
Snail Mucin is a great hydrator and helps you fight environmental damage. It is loaded with Antioxidants, Peptides, Glycosaminoglycans, Hyaluronic acid, and much more. Snail mucin can hence help you deal with dark spots, hyperpigmentation by plumping the cells.
Learn more about Snail Mucin here.
2. Vitamin C
Vitamin C has the property of preventing tyrosinase which is the enzyme that leads to the production of brown pigments called melanin. Vitamin C is naturally found in fruits as well and aids in increasing cell turnover. This brightening ingredient can surely help you reduce sun spots, stubborn acne spots which are a form of hyperpigmentation.
Learn more about Vitamin C here.
Retinol is the star ingredient when it comes to tackling ageing but it also, in turn, helps with hyperpigmentation of any type. Do deal with age spots, sun spots or genetic pigmentation patches, this could be of help. One must be careful with its usage since this molecule, like many active ingredients, needs to be built slowly for your skin.
Learn more about Retinol here.
We love Deconstruct Retinol & Peptide Serum. It has 0.2% Retinol and 1% Peptide to increase cell turnover and plump up your skin.
If you have Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH), then look no further. Liquorice has anti-inflammatory and brightening effects. It also has a substance called ‘glabridin’ which is known to protect your skin from UVB rays. That further helps in preventing the darkening of the spots.
Learn more about Licorice here.
We love Deconstruct Niacinamide Brightening Facewash that has 2% Liquorice and 2% Niacinamide. Perfect gentle face wash for those who are suffering from hyperpigmentation.
5. Lactic Acid
Lactic acid is found in dairy products and is excellent for beginners looking for chemical peels as a home treatment for hyperpigmentation. There are other Alpha-Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) like Glycolic Acid, Mandelic Acid, etc that can deliver similar results. Lactic acid is, however, gentler for beginners since its molecular size is bigger than Glycolic acid and other AHAs. Chemical peels can effectively treat hyperpigmentation if you ensure a balance in your skin barrier right after peeling. While peeling at home, one must avoid higher concentration to ensure that it doesn’t scar your skin.
Learn more about Lactic acid here.
We love Dr. Sheth’s ABC Cleansing Gel which has a mix of AHA and BHA in lower concentrations to suit all skin types. It effectively unclogs the pores and helps in lightening the dark spots.
Niacinamide helps boost the production of Ceramides which forms a major part of your skin barrier. This is one of the key reasons one must pair Niacinamide with a skin-brightening or dark spot correcting ingredient. Niacinamide is also loaded with Antioxidants that help one fight oxidative stress that can cause pigmentation.
Learn more about Niacinamide here.
We love Suganda 5% Niacinamide Serum. The best part about this product is that it is paired with Panthenol and Centella Asiatica to hydrate and repair your skin. This goes really well with a brightening ingredient or exfoliants that you might use to treat hyperpigmentation.
5. Tranexamic acid
Tranexamic acid is another melanin inhibitor that helps one treat melasma, dark spots due to sun damage, etc. It can be used in lower concentrations as an OTC treatment. Start with 2-3% initially. It is necessary to wear SPF if you’ve included Tranexamic acid in your skincare routine.
We love Fixderma SKARFIX -TX Cream. It addresses hyperpigmentation by blocking melanin production. It has Kojic acid, Alpha Arbutin with Tranexamic acid which is a powerful concoction to treat pigmentation.
6. Hyaluronic acid
It is a known ingredient for those who are always looking for hydration. Hyaluronic acid acts as a humectant by drawing moisture from the surroundings to your skin layers. This helps you plump up your skin and as we said earlier, hydration is also a key point to note along with pigment inhibition to treat hyperpigmentation. Hydration helps keep the cell structure in place and creates a short resistance to damage.
Learn more about Hyaluronic acid here.
We love Martiderm Photo Age HA+ that is dermatologically tested and it was reported that 93% of the trial group felt that their skin is hydrated.
Why are your skincare products not working?
While we know that the above-listed products work well, you might have a different opinion because you’ve tried all of them and still have those stubborn marks/patches. It is a sign that something is wrong. Here’s our take to help you see results-
Exfoliation is surely one way to treat hyperpigmentation but if you end up over-exfoliating then it will leave your skin barrier severely damaged. This can lead to additional skin troubles with increased pigmentation due to easy damage by UV rays, redness, breakouts, rashes, etc. If you’re new to exfoliation then probably you can try enzyme exfoliation which is potentially less likely to go wrong.
Learn more on the guide on chemical peeling for beginners here!
2. Not knowing the cause
Why do you have hyperpigmentation? It could be the sun, hormones, wounds, acne, etc. Once your dermatologist knows the reason, he can address the issue in a much more targeted way. It is relatively difficult to treat hormonal pigmentation with Vitamin C as compared with sunspots or PIH. Visit your dermatologist to understand your skin better before picking up an OTC product.
3. Improper layering
Hyperpigmentation can take a heavy toll on your emotional health and crumping confidence. It is a big deal to not feel okay in your skin and so to address it we may end up using way too many dark spots fading products together. But can that help? No. It may worsen the situation but have no results. So ensure that your melanin inhibiting product, which you can majorly use just at night, is layered with a moisturiser containing Ceramides and Peptides. You don’t need much at night to layer. Let the product seep into your skin and do its job. That brings us to the next MOST important point- SPF during the day.
4. Not using SPF daily
You just cannot skip this one. Let us explain this through a narrative. Let’s say actives have worked well and your marks have started fading but each time you step out in the sun, you come back home and feel like your marks are darker now. Guess why??? UV rays did some damage and Voila! You’re back to step one of the treatment. This way you just never get results. This will be such a mental burden. Just do yourself a favour and always, always wear and re-wear SPF during the day.
Learn more on how to read sunscreen labels here.
We love Qurez Mattifying Hybrid Sunscreen SPF 50 Pa++++. It also provides blue light protection!
5. Switching products early on
Every ingredient takes some time to deliver complete results. But we just cannot accept our marks so we try hard to make them fade sooner. In tis quest, we end up switching the ingredients quicker in the hunt for quicker results. What one must understand is that healing is a process with no shortcuts. So while you’re at it, let one ingredient work on your skin for 8-9 months before forming an opinion or switching the products.
6. Not focusing on hydration
Pigment blocking ingredients alone cannot make a difference if the other aspects of skin health aren’t factored in. Hydration is one of the basic but key requirements of skin cells that helps them keep cell structure in place to keep your skin looking youthful and plump. When you have pigmentation in a certain region of your body, it means the cells in that area have faced some damage that has destroyed the cell. To undo this, the first step is hydration and then, it could be a cell reviving or pigment blocking ingredient for hyperpigmentation.
How long must one wait to see the results?
It depends on the skincare routine and adherence to the routine but ideally, it can take anything between 6 months to 2 years. It is relatively a slower process which can be frustrating for many. But luckily, hyperpigmentation won’t lead to any other skin condition or disease. We recommend creating a solid one-year skincare routine before deciding to switch products to shorten the recovery period.
The key takeaway
Hyperpigmentation can take a toll on one’s mental health but it is important to exercise patience and accept your skin as it is. A lot of your star products may not work on your pigmentation if you don’t layer it correctly, avoid hydrating your skin, or even switch the product early on just because it is giving you slow results. There are some key gaps in skincare and one of them is that we all want super quick results but skincare was never about that. Skincare is and will always be essential to just take care of your skin health and not for aesthetic purposes. Remember this while practising to be kind towards your skin!