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Guide to Hyperpigmentation & Preventing It

Jun 20, 2022

Skin Care

Summer is upon us — and with it, so many of our favorite things: Drinks on the patio, days at the pool, and vacations on the beach. Soaking up the sun is an essential part of the season, but it does require extra care for the skin. We all love a tan, but our skin needs protection from the sun; its UV rays can cause lifelong damage and even lead to dangerous skin cancers like melanoma. Even if it doesn’t become a medical issue, skin damage can appear in forms that are less than desirable, like premature wrinkles and hyperpigmentation. While these skin concerns aren’t a medical issue, many people would prefer not to add them as another summer accessory. While they can be hard to reverse, they can also be prevented.

What is hyperpigmentation?

Hyperpigmentation is, as the name implies, a hyperproduction of pigment in the skin. Our skin color comes from melanin, and when your skin produces an excessive amount, it creates a patchy appearance with scattered spots that are darker than your overall complexion. These spots can show up in an array of colors: Brown, black, red, pink, or even gray. These are also sometimes referred to as sunspots or age spots. While there is no cause for medical concern, it is a cosmetic concern.

What causes it?

The overproduction of melanin could be due to a variety of issues. For some, the cause is external, like sun damage from overexposure or skin injuries. For others, it’s a side effect of skin-deep issues like acne or inflammation. It could even be caused by internal medical issues like hormone fluctuation. While the causes of hyperpigmentation might be a mystery, taking preventative measures will help reduce the likelihood of developing these spots.

Are there different types?

Hyperpigmentation is actually an umbrella term that includes many different types of complexion irregularity. The major types of hyperpigmentation are:

  • Melasma, which typically presents as brown or blue-gray spots that appear in clusters, like freckles. These can be symptoms of sun damage, but are more commonly caused by the hormonal fluctuations in pregnancy.
  • Sun spots, also known as age spots, are usually brown or black, and are commonly seen in older people (hence the name). These will usually appear on the face, but can also show up on the hands and chest as well.
  • Some people have freckles from birth, but for many, they develop throughout one’s life as a result of sun exposure. These small, clustered spots often fade in the winter and reemerge in the summer.
  • Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is a side effect of skin inflammation, which can be caused by allergic reactions, injuries, or immune system issues. Inflammation causes melanocyte hypertrophy and activity, which is basically a cell disorder that then triggers melanin production.

How to prevent hyperpigmentation

While it is possible to reverse hyperpigmentation, the easiest way to maintain an even skin tone is to prevent dark spots in the first place. Address these root causes to ensure that your skin tone is even and flawless when you look in the mirror.

Limit sun exposure

Limiting sun exposure is your best bet for preventing hyperpigmentation. By using an umbrella or wearing a hat and seeking shade when possible, you will stay safe from direct UV rays that increase melanin production.


If you know you’ll be in direct sunlight, SPF is essential. Sunscreens with an SPF of 15 or higher are recommended, and don’t forget to reapply consistently! Whether it’s a chemical or mineral sunscreen, these products are a powerful tool in protecting your skin.

Avoid touching your face

If inflammation is causing your melanin overproduction, one of the easiest ways to prevent acne, scratches, and more is to avoid touching your face. As blemishes heal, they leave marks (or even scars) behind. No matter how clean you think your hands are, it’s just better to keep them away from the delicate skin on your face.


For an even deeper clean, gentle exfoliation can make a huge difference. Exfoliants gently work to scrub the pores of excess sebum and dirt. They can also help reduce post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation by breaking up the discolored skin cells as they appear.

Ingredients to look for

The market is saturated with products that promise to fade dark spots, but there are many ingredients that balance skin tone without causing damage. We recommend looking for natural ingredients like Kojic Acid, Azelaic Acid, Niacinamide, Retinol, Turmeric and Aloe Vera. Each of these alone can bring results, but many products expertly combine two or more to create superhero products that both prevent and heal dark spots, sun spots, and more types of hyperpigmentation.

Getting rid of dark spots

Many products and preventative measures also help to reduce the appearance of dark spots. For more resistant discoloration, there are procedures provided by dermatologists and estheticians that can bring the results you’re looking for. Here are three of the most common methods:

  • Chemical peels sound scary, but when done by an expert, they can deliver major results. After assessing your skin’s needs, a dermatologist will apply a cocktail of chemicals to your skin that then cause damage to the very top layers of the skin. As your skin heals, it sheds the top layers of the epidermis, revealing the youthful skin below.
  • Laser therapy is a newer treatment that is minimally invasive but delivers major results. Beams of light are directed at the skin to target acne scars, fine lines, and other skin concerns. Similar to a chemical peel, the treatment causes the outer layer of the epidermis to peel off, but it also warms the lower layers, promoting collagen production. Collagen helps the skin heal, so this treatment improves the skin’s appearance from the inside out.
  • Microdermabrasion differs from chemical peels and laser therapy because rather than causing layers of skin to shed, it exfoliates the surface. The “micro” part refers to the tiny particles that are sprayed against the skin. This gently but effectively blasts off dead skin cells, taking discoloration and acne scarring with them.

No matter which method you try, make sure you visit a certified dermatologist or esthetician, as these treatments can cause further damage if done incorrectly.

Even skin tone without dark spots

It can be hard to balance a desire for even skin tone with a desire to have fun in the sun. You can have the best of both worlds by protecting your skin with sunscreen and hats, as well as using skin care products that tend to your skin and prevent and correct hyperpigmentation, such as our Glow Activating Exfoliator. 



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