What is hyperpigmentation and causes uneven skin tone?

Updated: Jan 26

Heather Bennett

Master Aesthetician

I know many of you have been struggling with some kind of hyperpigmentation and I am here to help. Whether your blotches stem from the sun, post breakout or skin trauma, it can be difficult to navigate which combination of treatments and active ingredients yield the greatest outcome. Result driven skincare regimens are only effective if done consistently and properly. Skincare is not a one-size-fits-all strategy but certain products and ingredients will help guide you towards your goals. Before starting with any brightening, lightening or depigmenting treatment I recommend “skin priming”. What is skin priming you ask? Trust me, it has nothing to do with makeup primer. Priming your skin is an essential way to optimize the outcome with lasers, chemical peels and other depigmenting treatments. Preparing the skin involves the application of topical skin brightening agents prior to the peeling procedure with the goal of enhancing the effect of the treatment and
decreasing the risk of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. The last thing anyone needs is MORE pigmented lesions right!?! Skin priming and treatment products I love can include not only ingredients to brighten, but also those that increase skin health and re-texturization. Ideally everyone would have a cleanser, antioxidant, brightening product, retinol or tretinoin, moisturizer, and sunscreen. Does that seem like a lot to you? That is actually a minimalistic regimen for the average person wanting quantifiable results. Obviously adding in more products during different seasons and/or stages of life vary a lot.

Firstly, let’s talk about vitamin C related antioxidant serums. You want them. You LOVE them. You just might not be sure which ones are tried and true. Our top selling antioxidants are also backed by science and rigorous testing. Skinceuticals C & E Ferulic and Phloretin CF have been flying off the shelves since we opened.

Three to five drops on clean skin in the morning is all you need for amazing results. Along with antioxidants you will be prepping your skin with topical treatments to aid in the brightening of the hyperpigmentation. Ingredients like azelaic acid, kojic acid, tranexamic acid, hydroquinone, and niacinamide are all very helpful. My current favorites include products like SkinMedica’s Lytera, PCA’s Pigment Bar, Skinceutical’s Discoloration Defense, ZO’s BrightAlive or their Pigment Control Creme. Keep in mind any hydroquinone has very strict usage regulations and should be consulted by with a professional before starting. Pairing a brightening product with a retinol or tretinoin will create a transformational and synergistic approach to evening out the discoloration of the skin. The results are compounded and give way to faster and more impressive skin texture and improved tone.

A retinol that I am fond of for beginners is SkinMedica’s Retinol .25%. This low percentage allows you to use it more consistently without the harsh side effects of dryness or peeling. Start out a few nights a week and progress to nightly use. Your moisturizer will closely follow this step and go on after to seal the deal. Nightly routine complete. Moderate retinol users might enjoy PCAs .5% Intensive Brightening Treatment. Think of it as retinol with an extra hit of added nutrients. It contains retinol, resveratrol, niacinamide and hexylresorcinol to rev up cellular turnover as well as combat discoloration. Experienced retinol users, I am so proud of you! Congrats on starting early. Now let’s refine your choices. You may be interested in 1% retinol or going to a prescription tretinoin for advanced renewal. ZO and SkinMedica make phenomenal and highly effective retinol for the experienced user. Tretinoin will require a prescription from a doctor and can offer a person that might of plateaued with their retinol usage a great replacement. If you are one of the few that cannot tolerate retinol or tretinoin, you are in luck! SkinMedica’s AHA/BHA Cream or SkinCeutical’s Glycolic Renew Overnight, are a lovely alternative. Both are nightly treatments that promote turnover and increased radiance in the skin. Now everyone has an option that works for their sensitivity level and skin type. Let the brightening begin!!**Mild irritation may initially be experience when starting a new retinol, tretinoin, AHA/BHA protocol and is not a sign of a negative complication. Remember: It is important to wear a broad- spectrum sunscreen during the day when using these products at night. Keep that newly spotless skin protected!

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