Treating hyperpigmentation

What is hyperpigmentation?

Hyperpigmentation is the term that describes skin that appears darker.  These dark marks can appear following inflammation caused by acne, hormonal changes, pregnancy, excessive sun exposure or genetic melasma.

This is a tricky skin problem on darker skin tones, as patches tend to emerge with a higher pigment and take much longer to fade than on lighter skins.  Unfortunately many try out unsafe lightening creams to eradicate the marks but these rarely work and can leave the skin more susceptible to sunburn.

Types of hyperpigmentation

Melasma: Melasma is a result of hormonal changes and can develop during pregnancy.  Hyperpigmentation during pregnancy usually appears on the stomach and on the face where it is given the name ‘pregnancy mask.’

Sunspots: These are commonly called age spots or liver spots and they appear on areas exposed to the sun, like the hands and face.

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation:  This is a result of inflammation or injury to the skin and commonly seen on acne skins.

What are the causes of hyperpigmentation

Hyperpigmentation is a direct result of excess production of melanin.  Melanin is the pigment that gives skin its colour.  It’s produced by skin cells called melanocytes.  There are certain factors or conditions which can alter the production of melanin in your body.

Sun exposure is the biggest culprit of hyperpigmentation.  The more you expose your skin to the sun, the more you risk increased skin pigmentation.

Other risk factors for hyperpigmented skin are:

Oral contraceptive pill

Pregnancy changes hormone levels and can affect melanin production in some women.

Darker skin types from Fitzpatrick skin types 4,5 and 6

Medications that increase your sensitivity to the sunlight 

Trauma or injury to the skin 


Inflammation such as heat eg. Those of us working with hot ovens will be more at risk.  

What are the treatments?

A dermatologist can prescribe medication applied topically hydroquinone which lightens the skin. However, prolonged use of topical hydroquinone can cause darkening of the skin (ochronosis) – an unwanted side effect!

Sunscreen is the single most important factor in improving most cases of hyperpigmentation.  Look for a physical blocking sunscreen, preferably with zinc oxide as the main active ingredient.  Go for at least SPF 30 but you can go to an SPF 50 and look for broad-spectrum coverage.  Use sunscreen daily and reapply it every 2 hours if you are out in the sun – more frequently if you’re sweating or swimming.  

Visible light from smartphones, iPads and computers can stimulate melasma – so know that you should be wearing a mineral SPF indoors too..

Using topical retinoids delivering vitamin A to the skin will lighten dark spots by increasing cell turnover. 

Laser and chemical peels can be used to reduce hyperpigmentation, depending on the cause of your hyperpigmentation.   

How to prevent hyperpigmentation

  • Wear a mineral sunscreen with an SPF 30
  • Wear a hat or clothing that blocks sunlight
  • Avoid the sun from 10 am to 4 pm when it’s strongest
  • Avoid certain medications that make your skin sensitive to UV

Which JL skincare products would the Skin Guru recommend using at home?

Take a comprehensive approach using a combination of alpha-hydroxy acids such as glycolic, lactic and salicylic to exfoliate away old and pigmented cells so using JL Exfoliating Cleanser am and pm is a must!

Tyrosinase is a key enzyme needed to stimulate melanin production.  Serums containing vitamin C which is tyrosinase-inhibiting ingredient is your next must-have! Therefore Perfect Skin serum is recommended.

Retinol delivering vitamin A for optimising the skin, improving cell function and causing a quicker skin renewal should be added to your skincare regime.   Try Smart Retinol and apply a few times a week only in the evenings and build up to every night use.

This three-pronged approach will break up the appearance of hyperpigmentation, strengthen the skin making it healthier and brighten the skin resulting in a more even skin tone. 

Sunscreen will prevent further dark marks and stop hyperpigmentation from getting worse. Therefore your final step is JL Tinted Moisturiser SPF 30 which is going to improve skin health and give you an overall glow.

How much time should you give the products to work?

Give yourself 8 to 12 weeks to start seeing real results and it’s important to remember that hyperpigmentation is always a work in progress.  Darker skin is more sensitive to inflammation and always prone to developing hyperpigmentation.   Good skincare ingredients, products and treatments are key to keeping it under control.

When lockdown is lifted what treatments would I recommend?

I believe a good chemical peel which will exfoliate and brighten the skin is a must.   

If you need to find a good Skin expert who will help you with your hyperpigmentation problems, contact us and we will find you the nearest JL aesthetician who can help.