Reader Question: Treatments for Hyperpigmentation!


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Hi readers!  Anyone else excited that it is Thursday? 🙂

Someone recently asked me about what they can do regarding sun spots.  What is commonly referred to as sun spots or age spots is hyperpigmentation. Simplified, hyperpigmentation is caused by an overproduction of melanin (brown pigment that gives skin color) that causes the darkening of the skin.  Below are causes of hyperpigmentation along with possible treatments.

Causes of Hyperpigmentation

  • Overexposure to sun, tanning beds, fluorescent and ambient lighting
  • Hormones/ Pregnancy
  • Medications- birthcontrol, thyroid, hormone replacement therapy (*Note: Never discontinue medication without the approval of your physician)
  • Stress
  • Inflammation/trauma caused by heat, acne, wounds, burns, eczema, etc
  • Age

Treatment Options

  • Exfoliation/chemical peels such as TCA, Jessner’s peels or lactic acid peels
  • Increased cell turnover with retinol/retinoids (Retin-A)
  • IPL/Laser
  • LED Light Therapy
  • Skincare products that contain arbutin, kojic acid, vitamin C (ascorbic acid), lactic acid, azelaic acid, phytic acid, and licorice extract.  Hydroquinone is another option available but it is a controversial ingredient that has a high risk of creating skin sensitivity.  Hydroquinone also must be used in 3/6 month cycles meaning you can only use it for a few months at a time and then cycle off.
  • Sunscreen!  Important no matter what!  None of the above treatments will be effective if you don’t protect your skin from sun damage-you’ll end up right back where you started and can even cause more pigmentation problems.

Remember that these are guidelines and the treatment option that will work best for you depends on a consultation with a skincare professional/dermatologist.

I hope this was helpful. 🙂

Thanks for reading,


31 thoughts on “Reader Question: Treatments for Hyperpigmentation!

  1. Thanks for sharing Stephanie! I have a lightish brown spot on my face but it never gets darker because I don’t go in the sun much and am super pale lol. I have some retinol cream that I might try over it but it really isn’t that noticeable. Sunscreen is very important and I try to remember to always wear it. 🙂

    • Home care is so important! I see it all the time where people pay $$$ for treatments yet slack off on wearing sunscreen or their at home regimen. Their mentality is that once it’s gone, it’s ‘fixed’ but it can come back depending on the factors that cause it. To me, that’s just wasting $$$. I’m so glad some of your spots faded! What helped you? What did you use?

      • I think I’ve seen Glytone in advertisments before. Haven’t worked or tried them though but good to know they worked for you. Lactic acid in the winter works great because it brightens and suppresses pigment and is more hydrating in the long run. 🙂 I plan to break down glycolic acid, lactic acid, etc in different posts in the future so that you guys can have a reference guide and an idea of what does what. 🙂

      • It’s funny because this question came up in one of my classes and it’s a totally valid question. I won’t say that you can’t have a reaction because anything is possible but unless you are severely allergic to milk-like were you break out in hives or have trouble breathing- you shouldn’t have a problem with it. Lactic acid can be derived from milk and sugars or I think be made synthetically but you won’t be able to tell where it came from on the ingredient list. Conducting a patch test could help you determine if you would have a reaction but it really shouldn’t be an issue unless you are highly allergic, in which case you should avoid. 🙂

      • Thank you so much for the detailed answer! Online I found all different answers, so I was not sure what was true. What you said sounds more reasonable, because I was reading the difference between a milk allergy and lactose intolerance. Thank you so much! 🙂

  2. Wow! My reason for everything seems to be stress and hormones… I really need to relax before eI start to get hyper-pigmentation… Thanks Steph for this informative post ❤
    I'mm gonna go and hug my sunscreen right away 😉

    • You’re so welcome! I know, I am a huge stressor (is that even a word? haha) too! It’s why I love my lavender essential oil-kind of helps to relieve stress. 🙂 Sunscreen is super important and probably one of the least expensive anti-aging products out there. 🙂

  3. Age… Over exposure to sun… Stress… Already see them working their way to the surface. My brother is an esthetician and has recommended some treatments, but they’re $$$. My mom has done some and she has amazing skin. Do you really think these pricey treatments are worthwhile? Do they harm the skin long term?

    • Stress is my biggest issue too! Ugh, I swear sometimes I stress out over everything. 😦 Yes, some treatments tend to be on the $$$ side and some require multiple treatments, which not a lot of people are aware off. What treatments has your done,if you don’t mind me asking. I think the treatments are worth it depending on the results you want to achieve. I don’t think they would harm the skin in the long term but I do believe you need to have a thorough consultation with whoever is performing the treatments. For instance, someone who has a darker skin type wouldn’t be the best candidate for a laser treatment and doing so might cause more pigment issues or discoloration. This isn’t necessarily harmful but it won’t be worthwhile. Hope this makes sense.

      • She’s done laser treatments. I remember something about light as well, and I’m pretty sure she’s done a chemical peel at least once. She did a series of something (I think it was the laser treatments). It really helped with her rosacea (which is non existent now); I have vessels in my cheeks that I’m self conscious about. I think the series also helped with wrinkles — she’s surprisingly devoid of them. Lucky gal. :o) She’s mentioned that they weren’t cheap though.

      • I know, it’s so crazy what all this technology can do know. No, they aren’t cheap but I think the results are worth it. You do have to keep and good skincare regimen and wear SPF diligently to maintain the results though. And always have a consultation with whoever is performing the treatments so you know what to expect. 🙂 You seem like you have really good skin though so I don’t think you’ll need something that drastic.

      • Thanks for the advice! I really appreciate your input. Up until now, I think I’ve benefited from having oilier-than-normal skin, but now that I’m settling into maturity, I definitely notice fine lines settling in. I’m just trying to figure out what’s out there and face aging head-on. LOL. :O)

      • You’re welcome! I have combination skin so I get to experience both worlds and it gets tricky at times. Noting that you work in a hospital setting (at least that is what I gather from your blog but feel free to correct me if I am wrong) I’m sure the AC is on all day which could lead to a drier and tighter feeling on the skin. Plus, the weather probably doesn’t help either. I would suggest you use products/serums that have hyaluronic acid or glycerin in them to keep skin hydrated. Fine lines can show more when the skin isn’t hydrated so making sure you layer products might help. Feel free to ask me any other questions you may have. 🙂

  4. Pingback: The Acid Chronicles: Lactic Acid! | Stephie Estie

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