Dark spot is one of the most difficult skin conditions to treat. It’s due to its persistence and unavoidable exposures to the sun and hormones. Treatment options vary depending on your budget and motivation. There are prescription, over-the-counter products and in-office treatments. Dr. Riyaz is a board-certified dermatologist who also serves as a medical advisor. The treatment plan should address excess melanin production and reduce inflammation.
What Are the Different Types of Hyperpigmentation?
Melasma is a skin condition caused by hormonal shifts and manifests as splotchy brown patches. You should also remember that melasma can also be exacerbated by heat and sun exposure, but cannot be completely eliminated.
There’s also post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) and post-inflammatory erythema (PIE), which usually crop up following an acne breakout. According to Dr. Choi, a board-certified dermatologist, acne can cause discoloration that ranges from pink, red and purple to brown or black. Dr. Choi says that although PIH and melasma are two different conditions, the treatment approach is the same for both.
What Ingredients Help Fade Dark Spots?
These ingredients can be added to a skin-care regimen that also includes exfoliators such as tranexamic or vitamin C. This will help you get rid of dead skin cells and leave behind a more even-toned complexion. Sunscreen is the final part of this routine. According to a board-certified dermatologist, “Protecting your skin against the sun is the best thing you can do to prevent sun-related brown spots.” The UV rays can increase melanin production, which can lead to darkening spots.
According to every expert we spoke to, when you’re putting together a routine to fight hyperpigmentation, you should include an SPF of at least 30, as well as antioxidants. Your skin should be treated individually. Although it may take several tries before you find the right combination of products to use for long-term results, experts recommend that you look for products with at least one of these ingredients:
This antioxidant protects your skin against environmental aggressors that can worsen inflammation. According to, this antioxidant reduces melanin production which can cause dark spots. It also smoothens fine lines and wrinkles.
Tranexamic Acid Dr. King says that niacinamide also reduces redness and strengthens the skin’s barrier. It also has anti-inflammatory properties.
Kojic Acid Dr. King says that it works as an exfoliator and blocks melanin synthesis, but is not an exfoliating agent.
Retinoids do two major things: boost collagen production and increase cell turnover for brighter, plumper, and smoother skin, says Dr. Riyaz. This acid might be a good choice if your skin is sensitive to other acids.
What Treatments Help Fade Dark Spots?
Dr. King says that because deep and olive skin tones have more melanin-producing cell, certain treatments may trigger more dark spots. You should also consult your doctor if you are pregnant or nursing before trying any of these products or treatments.
According to celebrity aesthetician and dermatological nurse , it’s important to stick to a consistent skin-care routine before you try out a treatment. Aguilar says, “It is important to begin with the appropriate skin-care products in order to determine if they work.” “If they fail to achieve your goals, at least you have prepared the skin for future treatments and prevented the risk of burning.”
If hyperpigmentation is your main concern, consider an intense pulse light (IPL) and broadband light (BBL), says board-certified plastic surgeon . These treatments aren’t going to alter the texture or firmness, but they can work wonders on dark spots. You may notice some darkening of your spots during the healing process. But don’t worry, they will eventually rise to the surface and flake. Melasma can be worsened by heat treatments such as IPL or BBL. It is best to avoid it for those with darker skin tones.
Consider a laser treatment like Fraxel, or with microneedling or other procedures for more intensive results. Dr. Hartman says that Picosure works as a sledgehammer to break up concrete and blast the pigment into smaller and smaller pieces, until it is so small that lymphatic drainage can remove it. It removes stubborn pigment from the skin that is deep within the skin, making it easier to treat. Picosure treatment should be performed at least three to six times to see the best results.
Chemical peels are another popular option for treating unwanted pigmentation. Aguilar says that there are many types of chemical peels. They can be one-ingredient, such as a glycolic acid, or they could contain multiple acids, such as a Cosmelan. Cosmelan contains hydroquinone and retinoic acids, kojic, arbutin and phytic acid. It’s well-known for its transformative after-and-after effects.
For deep skin tones, Dr. Riyaz prefers lactic acid and mandelic acid. They provide exfoliating and moisturizing properties while safely fading hyperpigmentation in darker skin tones.”
Tretinoin, or prescription-strength retinol, is another commonly prescribed treatment for hyperpigmentation. “It evens out pigmentation by exfoliating and stimulating cell turnover, reducing inflammation, and removing excess melanin from your cells,” Dr. Riyaz explains. A broad-spectrum sunscreen that has high SPF is essential for any dark-spot treatment. Dr. Riyaz says it is crucial to use sun protection diligently to prevent further pigmentation. This is particularly important when you are using hydroquinone or tretinoin and exfoliating acid, because it decreases your chances of skin sensitivity.
Because inflammation can contribute to the formation of unwanted pigment, particularly in the cases of PIH and PIE, it’s important to include anti-inflammatory products in your regimen, too. They can help prevent breakouts and lingering marks after breakouts.