By Hana Alexander for Science and Skincare
My name is Hana, I’m a 25-year-old beauty enthusiast, just like you. I’ve been looking for a little guidance and information from the internet to help rectify some of my skin concerns.
While I am grateful for all the information at our fingertips, I can’t help but feel like I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of time looking for answers to one problem in particular. Say it with me… Hyperpigmentation. If you know, you know.
There’s nothing worse than finally finding the secret formula to cracking this week’s bout of blemishes or breakouts, only to be left with a scar or dark mark in its place, UGH! And after all your hard and meticulous work.
Trying to understand hyperpigmentation, let alone tending to it, can be confusing and difficult. This is because of factors like skin type and skin color – which can play an enormous factor in how you proceed with a routine focused on tackling hyperpigmentation.
A quick re-cap on hyperpigmentation
Hyperpigmentation is the term used to describe a common, usually harmless condition in which patches of skin become darker in color than the normal surrounding skin.
Essentially hyperpigmentation is the bracket term used to categorize different types of discoloration on the skin. This includes; hypermelanosis (also referred to as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and is one of the most common types). Hyperpigmentation can come in the form of scaring, aging spots, and melasma. There are several reasons someone may experience hyperpigmentation, such as too much sun exposure, hormonal changes, and genetics to name just a few.
My skin type is mildly acne-prone, so post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation as a result of blemishes, has always been an issue for me. When the skin becomes damaged or inflamed, it produces excess melanin, darkening the skin in the surrounding area. So although hyperpigmentation can affect anyone, it tends to be a big concern for those with darker a complexion because of the increased melanin in the skin.
Before I disclose my skin routine, let me just state that we should all seek to love our skin in whatever element and condition it is, but surely there’s nothing wrong in exploring ways to reduce the effects of any skin concerns.
So, after years of trials and tribulations and hunting down man’s best-known remedies for hyperpigmentation, I feel I’ve finally got a handle on it.
Here’s my current daytime beauty routine for preventing and dealing with hyperpigmentation!
The step-by-step routine
Step 1, cleanser
Product recommendation: Caudalie’s VINOPURE Purifying Gel Cleanser
When dealing with hyperpigmentation, prevention is key. Identifying the cause of your dark marks should give you an idea of what products and ingredients you need to look out for.
Again, my skin type is primarily oily and mildly acne-prone, and my hyperpigmentation is post-inflammatory and is the result of breakouts which can leave behind scarring.
To prevent the breakouts and scarring I use Caudalie’s VINOPURE Purifying Gel Cleanser face wash, which contains salicylic acid. Gel based products are gentler on the skin and help supply hydration while removing dirt and reducing excess oil production, making them another great shout for acne-prone skin types.
For anyone who can handle a stronger salicylic acid based product, Mario Badescu’s Acne Facial Cleanser is another one of my faves.
Step 2, masks
Product recommendation: The Ordinary’s AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution
My favorite mask is The Ordinary’s AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution. I apply the mask once to twice a week to clean skin. It’s a chemical exfoliant that brightens the skin with an extended duty of clearing the pores. It’s got some strong actives in it so be careful with this product and listen to your skin.
AHA’s exfoliate on the surface level, making this product an ideal choice for tackling hyperpigmentation. It’s known, not only to accommodate post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, but other discoloration like sun damage spots becasue they work to remove the upper layer of dead skin cells revealing the undamaged skin underneath.
Step 3, toner
Product recommendation: The Ordinary’s Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution
To get the most out of my routine, I look for super-powerful products and ingredients when I choose a toner.
I reach for The Ordinary’s Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution (more on glycolic acid here) to further prevent breakouts and blemishes. It’s also a AHA and supports skin cell turnover. Remember hyperpigmentation is an issue that affects the surface of your skin, so focus on cleansing, exfoliating, and purifying.
I choose chemical exfoliants over physical ones because by skipping out on physical exfoliants I avoid abrasive materials on my skin. This allows me to keep my skin’s barrier strong, which is an important part of fighting hyperpigmentation.
Over exfoliating or using harsh physical exfoliants can directly damage the top layer of skin, weakening the skin barrier and leaving the skin prone to breakouts.
Step 4, serum
Product recommendation: The Ordinary’s 100% L-Ascorbic Acid powder
I have searched high and low for the best serum to combat hyperpigmentation. Shy of a few lines and products, I’ve probably tried it all. The Ordinary’s L-Ascorbic Acid powder is definitely my holy grail!
This product is a potent form of vitamin C and is my number one when fighting hyperpigmentation, it’s a mighty antioxidant that helps brighten the skin and helps improve the appearance of discoloration or scarring.
Mix the powder with an agent of your choosing, patting the serum into the skin. Let sit for one minute before applying other products, layering thinnest to thickest. Vitamin C is temperamental, so opt for any vit C serums or products that come in dark or opaque packaging, the ones in clear packaging lose their potency – and of course, I found this out the hard way.
Step 5, moisturisers/oils
Product recommendation: Kiehls Ultra Facial Cream
For this step in my routine, I take it a little easier. At this point, I’m confident that my routine has built a strong foundation for preventing and tackling my hyperpigmentation. And because my routine is packed with chemical exfoliants, I take a moment to factor in hydration and protection.
Right now I’m loving the Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream, for some luscious moisture or Sunday Riley Juno Antioxidant + Superfood face oil. The Juno oil is anti-aging and brightens the skin, also helping to reduce the appearance of dark marks and fine lines. When selecting a face cream or oil I look for something hydrating and where I can, and another opportunity to add in some more efficacious ingredients.
Step 6, SPF
Product recommendation: La Roche Posay Anthelios Ultra-Light Invisible Fluid SPF50
SPF is a must in protecting the skin. SPFs fight against UV rays, and prevent premature aging, and the darkening of scars or hyperpigmentation. Looking for a product that contains a higher level of SPF without a leaving grey cast can be difficult, so I’m loving the La Roche Posay Anthelios Ultra-Light Invisible Fluid SPF50. It’s light on the face but gets the job done. I apply this during my day time routine regardless of whether I’m leaving the house.
Remember to understand that dealing with hyperpigmentation is a journey, so we must be patient. I hope you learned something along with the read and found my routine helpful.
Watch this space for part 2 – featuring my nighttime routine for hyperpigmentation!