The Best Products for Treating Hyperpigmentation
Uneven skin tone is one of the top skincare concerns for women of color. Yet many dealing with this issue aren't quite sure how to combat hyperpigmentation.
That's why we turned to two Black dermatologists who specialize in skin of color for their expert tips on creating a routine that will not only help to eliminate dark spots, but also nourish the skin. What we've found is that while effective products are key, they aren't the only factor to consider when facing skin discoloration.
"No matter how aggressive the routine, it will take time to notice improvement," Dr. Tiffany Clay, an Atlanta-based dermatologist tells InStyle. "It will take at least six to eight weeks to see minimal change, and two to three months to see significant differences." But she adds that taking a photo at the beginning of your journey can help monitor progress.
More tips from Dr. Clay as well as Miami-based dermatologist Dr. Heather Woolery-Lloyd, ahead.
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Cleanser: Indie Lee Brightening Cleanser
When dealing with skin discoloration, it's important to start off with a gentle cleanser. "Many people with hyperpigmentation often think a very deep peel, excessive scrubbing, or aggressive exfoliation will help," Dr. Woolery-Lloyd explains. "Unfortunately, sometimes this can make things worse because any irritation can lead to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation." Indie Lee's Brightening Cleanser gently cleans the skin and balances moisture with hydrolized wheat proteins, while also boasting a formula rich with vitamin C to fade away dark spots.
Daytime Serum: epi.logic Daily Dose Vitamin C + Multivitamin Defense Serum
This powerful morning serum from epi.logic is an all-in-one solution for fading dark spots with its vitamin C, E, and niacinamide-rich formula. "They all play nicely together," says Dr. Clay. "Niacinamide is vitamin B3 and enhances vitamin C’s benefits by speeding up the turnover of new cells. Vitamin E helps by decreasing ultraviolet damage to the skin alongside vitamin C, which is also an antioxidant."
Daytime Moisturizer: Peter Thomas Roth Potent-C Bright & Plump Moisturizer
Much like epi.logic's super serum Peter Thomas Roth's Potent-C Moisturizer is packed with THD ascorbate — which the brand says is "a mega-potent, ultra stable form of vitamin C" — as well as vitamin E. "Vitamin C and E are antioxidants that indirectly inhibit tyrosinase, which is the enzyme that makes pigment," says Dr. Woolery-Lloyd. Plus, it will leave your skin with an all-day dewy finish.
Nighttime Toner: Ole Henrikson Glow2OH Dark Spot Toner
"People with hyperpigmentation should choose products that are specifically designed to improve dark spots," Dr. Woolery-Lloyd says. And that's exactly why Ole Henrikson's Glow2OH Dark Spot Toner was created.
This specialized product is formulated with high-potency AHAs to fade discoloration fast. "These acids enhance and speed up the skin’s turnover — essentially out with the old and in with the new," Dr. Clay explains.
Nighttime Serum: Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Resurfacing Night Serum
This serum offers a 12% AHA/BHA formula that, much like the toner, works to resurface the skin. And while "it is certainly OK to use more than one AHA," Dr. Clay confirms, it's always a good idea to start off by using the products every other day, on alternating days, to monitor how your skin reacts to chemical exfoliation.
Eye Cream: Avya Eye Bright Cream with Caffeine
If you deal with chronic dark under eye circles and have yet to find a solution, Avya Skincare's Eye Bright Cream may just be it. The formula includes topical caffeine, which works to constrict blood vessels in the area. The result? Puffy eyes are instantly reduced, and dark circles begin to fade overtime.
Spot Treatment: Neutrogena Rapid Tone Repair
If you have stubborn dark spots, Neutrogena's Rapid Tone Repair may just change your life. Its formula includes retinol as well as vitamin C to fade discoloration fast. I've personally used this product on a spot that would not fade for months — and saw results within two weeks.
Nighttime Moisturizer: Clearly Corrective Brightening & Smoothing Moisture Treatment
Making sure to use an effective moisturizer before bed is always key when trying to reduce discoloration. "If the skin gets too dry, this may worsen hyperpigmentation," Dr. Clay says. Kiehl's Clearly Corrective Brightening and Smoothing Moisture Treatment is not only formulated with activated C to brighten skin, but it also boasts white birch, which helps with smoothing and keeping the skin hydrated.
Sunscreen: Elta MD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46
Last, but certainly not least, the — and we cannot stress this enough — most important product to help fade hyperpigmentation is sunscreen. "Without sunscreen, treating hyperpigmentation is an uphill battle," Dr. Woolery-Lloyd exclaims.
"Sunscreen is needed daily, year-round to keep ultraviolet rays away from the skin to prevent additional melanin production," Dr. Clay adds. While there are a plethora of sunscreens on the market, Elta MD's UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 is a great option. Not only because it's formulated with niacinamide to actually treat hyperpigmentation, but also because unlike many other SPF products, it goes on completely clear, and won't leave a white cast on deeper skin tones.