Hyperpigmentation Products Can Be Harmful to Melanin-Rich Skin — These 4 Created by POC Are Changing That

By people of color for people of color.

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WOC Hyperpigmentation Products
Photo: Courtesy/InStyle

People of color have long been left out of the beauty industry. Face makeup like foundation lacks inclusive and encompassing shades, hair care products leave out many hair types, and skincare products are formulated without melanin in mind. In the last few years, there has been an increased awareness of these shortcomings in the beauty industry. Brands started by people of color — like Topicals, Eadem, Hyper Skin, and Rose Ingleton MD — have heralded a new age where 40-plus foundation shades are the norm and melanin-rich skin is included in pre-launch research and trials, bridging the egregious gap with incredible success.

One of the most important subcategories where innovation and inclusion have taken place is hyperpigmentation skincare products. First for some basics: Dr. Dendy Engelman, MD, FACMS, FAAD, board-certified cosmetic dermatologist explains, "Hyperpigmentation is when an area of skin appears darker than the skin surrounding it due to the presence of higher amounts of melanin (pigment). It can occur naturally as a birthmark or be caused by a variety of factors including sun exposure, acne scarring, aging, or certain skin conditions."

Everyone can experience hyperpigmentation, but it is a condition most frequently seen in people of color, according to both Dr. Engelman and a plethora of studies. The lack of inclusion is especially heinous when you consider that "not only is hyperpigmentation more common in people of color but it also tends to be longer-lasting and harder to treat," Dr. Engelman explains.

The gap is so egregious as to actually be harmful. When I previously spoke to the founder of Topicals, Olamide Olowe for Bustle, she told me that many dark spot-fading products are formulated with resorcinol and hydroquinone, which studies have shown to be harmful to melanin-rich skin. Known as permanent pigment cell death, these ingredients can cause dark spots to turn blue-black or gray-blue.

So these new brands — Topicals, Eadem, Hyper Skin, and Rose Ingleton MD — are not only welcome, but necessary and groundbreaking additions to the skincare market. Find out more about each of their incredible hyperpigmentation products below.

Topicals Faded Serum

WOC-created hyperpigmentation products

Shop now: $38; sephora.com

I have been using Topicals' Faded Serum for a year — long enough to go through three tubes, and I will not be stopping any time soon. Before I get into the praise, I would like to note that I first began writing this article a couple of months ago and had to shelve it because the serum was perennially sold out. It's currently in stock, so heed my warning and add to cart while you can.

The sulfur in the formula makes the serum smell kind of like Nair, which I actually don't mind because IMO, the most effective and frills-free skincare smells funky (I am making heavy eye contact with Biologique Recherche's infamous P50 Toner).

The serum is packed with niacinamide, azelaic acid, and tranexamic acid, which help with preventing acne, fading dark spots, evening out your complexion, and expediting cell turnover among other things. I use this serum every day and have never experienced irritation, despite having very sensitive skin. When new dark spots appear on my skin, they are not nearly as dark as they were previously and I feel reassured knowing that Faded will fade them away either way.

Eadem Milk Marvel Dark Spot Serum

WOC-created hyperpigmentation products

Shop now: $68; sephora.com

Eadem is another POC-founded runaway hit. It's in stock now but frequently there are months where it is impossible to get your hands on a bottle. The serum targets three concerns: the main one is fading dark spots and the peripheral benefits are increasing skin radiance and firmness.

The formula was created and clinically tested specifically on women of color, according to the brand. The result is a serum that addresses hyperpigmentation and enhances a glowing complexion without the side effects of lightening or altering the overall skin tone.

Rose Ingleton MD Complexion Brightening Booster Serum

WOC-created hyperpigmentation products

Shop now: $70; sephora.com

Although it is still under the radar, the dermatologist's namesake brand is clean, vegan, and mentioned frequently by beauty industry insiders. The hero ingredients are peptides for collagen production, malic acid for chemical exfoliation and smoother skin, and citric acid, which, similar to vitamin C, brightens and evens complexions.

Hyper Skin Brightening Dark Spot Vitamin C Serum

WOC-created hyperpigmentation products

Shop now: $58; sephora.com

Hyper Skin's serum for hyperpigmentation and dark spots is another example of a superb POC-created product. The brand highlights that the Brightening Dark Spot Vitamin C Serum is free of hydroquinone, one of the previously mentioned ingredients responsible for permanent cell death in melanin-rich skin.

An ingredient list of vitamin C, licorice, and kojic acid is a powerhouse combination that fades even the oldest and most stubborn dark spots and scarring.

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