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Hyperpigmentation

Hyperpigmentation and uneven skintone


Hi, I need some recommendations, if possible a routine for fading my hyperpigmentation spots. 

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I’m 18 and have dry skin. There are some wrinkles issues as well as you can see. 
Any product that will work for me, I need suggestions-

I do the Basic skincare for about one year so far. TIA.

Re: Hyperpigmentation

Hi @amiika ! First and foremost: does your current skincare routine include a broad spectrum sunscreen (at least SPF 30), work on ALL skin exposed to sunlight (eyelids, ears, behind ears, hairline, nape of neck if exposed, etc.) and reapplied every couple hours, all year long, regardless of weather or season? That's the most important skincare product for hyperpigmentation. There's no point using any other product(s) to even out skin tone if you don't also stop the sun from causing more damage. 

 

Next: what works best for your hyperpigmentation may depend on what’s causing it and how deep it is (how many skin layers are affected). But here are some of the usual go-to ingredients: 

Spoiler
Alpha arbutin or bearberry extract (usually listed as arctostaphylos uva ursi) - Bearberry extract contains arbutin, but synthetically made alpha arbutin may be more effective. A good standalone product is The Ordinary Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA Hyperpigmentation Serum 1 oz/ 30 mL; it also contains hyaluronic acid, a good humectant that hydrates skin. Also consider Hyper Skin Brightening Dark Spot Vitamin C Serum 1 oz/ 30 mL which contains both kojic acid and bearberry extract. And Topicals Faded Serum for Dark Spots & Discoloration 1.7 oz/ 50 mL contains alpha arbutin. 
 
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid and its derivatives) - Many people’s go-to for overall skin brightening. This antioxidant is infamously unstable—it hates sunlight and air, making it kind of a pain for cosmetic chemists to formulate with—which is why stabilized derivatives exist. I recommend looking for products that contain one of these forms of vitamin C: 
Spoiler
Ascorbic acid - pure vitamin C. Consider Paula's Choice C15 Vitamin C Super Booster 0.67 oz/ 20 mL or the less expensive Timeless 20% Vitamin C + E Ferulic Acid Serum

3-0-ethyl ascorbic acid - a stable derivative that doesn’t have as much “yep, definitely works” data as ascorbic acid but may at least brighten skin. It's in the Hyper Skin Dark Spot Serum I mentioned earlier. 

Tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate (or ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate) - a stable oil-soluble derivative that can theoretically get past skin’s natural sebum to penetrate deep enough to boost collagen production. Consider The Ordinary Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate Solution 20% in Vitamin F 1 oz/ 30 mL or Wander Beauty Sight C-er Vitamin C Concentrate .  
Kojic acid - Another antioxidant that’s unstable—maybe even less stable than ascorbic acid. I used to rarely find this ingredient in skincare products, but lately I’ve seen it on more INCI lists. It’s in the Hyper Skin Even serum I mentioned above. If you’re in the US, check Ulta or Target for Specific Beauty Advanced Dark Spot Corrector Pads; they also contain kojic acid, though I’ll warn you those pads tend to dry out quickly (in my experience using them), so don’t leave the jar’s lid unscrewed any longer than necessary. Those pads also contain ascorbic acid and alpha arbutin. 
 
Azelaic acid - Treats hyperpigmentation, kills acne-causing bacteria, and protects against free radicals as an antioxidant. For me, this ingredient’s especially good for post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH, like dark marks left behind by acne). In the US, it’s available OTC at 10% strength; my favorite is Paula's Choice 10% Azelaic Acid Booster 1 oz/ 30 mL , but also consider The Ordinary Azelaic Acid 10% Suspension Brightening Cream 1 oz/ 30 mL or FaceTheory Lumizela A10 Serum. You can also get a prescription for 15-20% azelaic acid from your doctor. Oh, and azelaic acid’s in the Topicals Faded Serum
 
Vitamin A (retinoic acid and its derivatives) - Includes tretinoin (which is retinoic acid), retinaldehyde, and retinol. (Also a few others I’m excluding for simplicity’s sake.) All 3 of these ingredients can effectively treat hyperpigmentation, they just don’t work at the same rate: 
Spoiler
Tretinoin - the fastest acting because it’s already in the active state skin cells need. Available only by Rx, so talk with your doctor or dermatologist about it. 

Retinaldehyde - to use this, skin cells must convert it once to retinoic acid. Consider Avene RetrinAL 0.05 Cream. I use Avene RetrinAL 0.1 Intensive Cream, but I don't recommend starting off with that one; I spent a couple years using retinol products before moving to that retinaldehyde, so my skin was already plenty used to vitamin A derivatives. 

Retinol - requires 2 conversions: one to retinaldehyde and another to retinoic acid. There are so many retinol products available on the market... consider Paula's Choice RESIST Intensive Wrinkle-Repair Retinol Serum: it contains 0.1% retinol which PC calls mid-strength; also contains the oil-soluble vitamin C derivative I mentioned earlier. One of my first retinol products was The INKEY List Retinol Anti-Aging Serum which is, eh, low to mid strength; I still use it on my neck and undereyes, 2 places I don't apply retinaldehyde. 


Note: tretinoin can irritate and dry the heck out of skin. So can retinaldehyde and retinol if used at too high a strength right off the bat. A dermatologist can help you decide what’s best for you. My derm and I decided my skin wouldn’t tolerate tretinoin but might handle retinaldehyde, which I use mostly for hyperpigmentation. 
HydroquinoneThe gold standard for dark spots, according to dermatologists. Unfortunately, the FDA recently changed this ingredient from OTC to Rx-only. (It hasn’t been banned in the US. It’s just not available over-the-counter anymore.) Eh, you’ll want to talk with a dermatologist or your primary care doctor about it before using it anyway, to make sure it’s right for you and to get proper instruction on how—and for how long—to use it. 
 
Tranexamic acid - Very helpful for melasma when taken orally, so that’s how dermatologists usually prescribe it to patients. It might help when applied topically, but there’s not enough clinical data yet to confirm this. Its in the Topicals Faded serum, or you can try a standalone option like The INKEY List Tranexamic Acid Hyperpigmentation Treatment 1 oz/ 30 mL . 

I mentioned a few products that contain more than one of the ingredients on my list. For hyperpigmentation, a multi-ingredient approach is often best. I didn't mention licorice root or niacinamide, 2 good skin brighteners, because they're already in a lot of products—might even be in your current skincare products. 

 

Also: when in doubt, consult your primary care doctor or a board certified dermatologist. Some forms of hyperpigmentation may respond better to different types of treatment or ingredients, and a doctor can do a proper diagnosis to figure that out. 

Re: Hyperpigmentation

@amiika  I really like using Summer Fridays CC Me Vitamin C + Niacinamide Serum 1.0 oz/ 30 mL  it’s definitely helped me fade my dark spots. I also like using Peter Thomas Roth PRO Strength Niacinamide Discoloration Treatment 3.4 oz/ 100 mL  it’s definitely pricy but worth it. 

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