How to Get Rid of Hyperpigmentation

3 December, 2021 / words by Evie SKnperfct

Image @SabrinaElba

Hyperpigmentation is something I get asked about the most when it comes to skincare. As someone who has dealt with this for years, I know what an absolute confidence killer it can be. Paired with the fact it can feel so hard to treat, it’s something that has affected my self-image for a long time. But luckily, I have tried what feels like everything there possibly is on the market, and I’m here to share some key things to look for that will have your skin even and glowing in no time.

What is Hyperpigmentation?

Hyperpigmentation occurs in an area of skin where excess melanin is produced, usually when our body responds to some sort of inflammation or trauma. Dark marks can occur from inflammation caused by acne (post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation), hormonal changes especially during pregnancy (melasma), and excess sun exposure. This is especially prevalent in darker skin tones due to the amount of melanin produced in our skin.

Improving Hyperpigmentation

Step 1: Get to the root cause

When trying to treat hyperpigmentation, it is important to tackle the root cause. For example, if you get dark marks after a pimple, you need to focus on reducing the number of breakouts you get. Look out for products that contain acne-fighting ingredients like salicylic acid to help keep breakouts under control.

Other forms of hyperpigmentation like melasma can be caused by hormones (pregnancy is a big trigger for this!), and worsens by sun exposure. Make sure you consult a skincare professional to understand what your trigger is, so you can be put on a treatment plan to help get it under control.

Step 2: Wear SPF (…and if not, you might as well stop reading now)

I cannot stress how important SPF is when dealing with hyperpigmentation. You can use all the treatments in the world but if you are not protecting your skin from the sun you will see little long-term improvement. Sunlight triggers the production of melanin, so if you are not protecting your skin, it will only make your dark spots and areas worse.

There are a plethora of lightweight SPFs on the market now that won’t leave you looking casket-ready, so please, wear some!

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Step 3: Tyrosinase inhibitors are your best friend

Without getting too much into the science, Tyrosinase inhibitors work by interrupting the enzyme Tyrosinase which is a crucial part of the production of melanin. These products help to stop excess melanin from being produced by the skin as a response to inflammation or trauma.

The ingredients to look for are; 

– Vitamin C (Paula’s Choice C15 Super Booster, Caudalie Vinergetic C+ Serum)

– Alpha Arbutin (The Ordinary Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA)

– Kojic acid (Garden of Wisdom Alpha Arbutin 2% & Kojic Acid 1%)

– Tranexamic acid (Superdrug Me+ Tranexamic Acid Booster, Paula’s Choice Discoloration Repair Serum)

– Azelaic Acid (Face Theory Lumizela A15 Serum)

We can’t talk about Tyrosinase Inhibitors without mentioning Hydroquinone, which is by far one of the most effective ingredients in the treatment of hyperpigmentation. It is often referred to as the “gold standard” by dermatologists and skincare professionals. Hydroquinone gets a bad rep due to it being used irresponsibly in bleaching creams, general misuse, and a few studies (done on rats) sighting it to be harmful. However, I strongly believe that when used correctly, and under professional supervision, it is one of the best treatments out there. SO unless you are a rodent, you shouldn’t have much to worry about.

Step 4: Exfoliate…but not too much

If you want bright and even skin, it is important to exfoliate to speed up skin cell turnover and help your products to absorb more effectively. However, you do not want to over-exfoliate as this can result in a damaged skin barrier, inflammation, and breakouts which of course will lead to more hyperpigmentation. Not what we want!

AHA’s such as Glycolic and Lactic acid are great options when looking for chemical exfoliants. My personal favourite is Mandelic acid as it is super gentle but particularly effective in targeting hyperpigmentation. When using exfoliants, make sure you take care to hydrate and nourish your skin. Treat it like a baby. Plus, hydrated skin equals better skin cell turnover, a win-win situation.

Step 5: See a professional

They won’t admit to this, but a lot of people with perfect skin pay a hell of a lot of money to have it look that way. A lot can be achieved through a good skincare routine but, if we are being honest, very few things beat professional treatments.

Whilst you can dramatically change your skin just by using the right products, getting treatments such as chemical peels, laser, and micro-needling will significantly speed up the process. For me, investing in a chemical peel twice a year really helps me to keep my hyperpigmentation under control. 

As well as this, I always recommend seeing a dermatologist for prescription-strength products if you are really struggling as these make a world of a difference. It does not have to cost a bomb, and you can use online services such as Dermatica and Skin + Me where you can get a free consultation, and an affordable monthly prescription.

Step 6: Be Patient

I am someone who always wants to see results in my skin overnight, but when treating something as difficult as hyperpigmentation, unfortunately, that is a fantasy. Remember, most products take between 4 and 12 weeks before you see results, but the most important thing is that you will see results.

Understanding your skin can be a long and frustrating journey, but once you find what works for you, it is truly life-changing. 


Evie SKnperfct


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