How to Prevent Hyperpigmentation On Your Face
Breakouts and wrinkles aren’t the only imperfections that can prevent you from obtaining a flawless-looking complexion. Hyperpigmentation can have a similar impact on how your skin looks—marring an otherwise unblemished appearance—and how you feel about its appearance. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), hyperpigmentation is characterized by a darkening of the skin due to an increase in melanin, the natural substance that gives skin its color or pigment. If your skin is marked by patches of dark discoloration, hyperpigmentation is likely the culprit. But rather than asking whether or not you can address hyperpigmentation (although we’ll touch on that later), the question should be, how can you prevent hyperpigmentation on the face? To find an answer, we turned to board-certified dermatologist Arash Akhavan, MD, FAAD, founder of Dermatology & Laser Group, and Skincare.com consultant. We’re sharing everything we learned about preventing hyperpigmentation, below.
How to Best Avoid Hyperpigmentation
Now that you know what could be behind your hyperpigmentation, you can focus on how to avoid further discoloration. The AAD stresses that it’s key to focus on sun protection all year round. By preventing sun damage in the first place, you’ll see a myriad of skin care benefits beyond fending off dark spots. To avoid overexposure to the sun, wear broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF value of 15 or higher, every single day, and be sure to reapply at least every 2 hours (or more if sweating or swimming). In addition to being consistent with sunscreen application, the FDA recommends limiting time under the sun during its harshest hours—from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.—and wearing clothing and accessories that shield skin from the sun, like broad-brimmed hats and sunglasses.
What Causes Hyperpigmentation?
Before you learn how to prevent hyperpigmentation on the face, it’s important to know what causes hyperpigmentation in the first place. Dr. Akhavan explained there are a variety of causes for your skin discoloration: “Sun exposure can create brown discoloration. Genetics and ethnicity can play a role, and hormones can also contribute to skin discoloration.”
The AAD also confirms that overexposure to the sun is the leading cause of dark spots in light-skinned individuals, making it one of the three main causes of hyperpigmentation. The other two are melasma, characterized as a patchy brown discoloration that commonly occurs during pregnancy, and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, which is a condition causing increased pigment production that can occur after an injury or inflammation to the skin from acne, eczema, or psoriasis.
How to Address Pre-Existing Discoloration
Unfortunately, once you have dark spots on your face, it isn’t as simple as snapping your fingers to get rid of it. According to the AAD, hyperpigmentation can be difficult to address, but it’s not impossible. When we asked about the best ways to address skin discoloration, Dr. Akhavan recommends in-office “lasers and chemical peels.” If you prefer a topical solution, here are some ingredients that may help.
Retinol: Dr. Akhavan recommends products containing retinol, which can be obtained either by prescription or over the counter.
Vitamin C: The AAD lists vitamin C as an ingredient in anti-aging formulas, but that isn’t the only benefit of this antioxidant power player. Dr. Akhavan says to look for it in products formulated to help address discoloration. Wear it in tandem with your daily sunscreen for beefed up protection against harmful free radicals and environmental aggressors.
Kojic Acid: Familiar names like salicylic acid and hyaluronic acid aren’t popular picks for addressing discoloration, but there is an acid that may work on reducing the appearance of your dark spots, and it’s kojic acid.