Hyperpigmentation and melasma are unwanted dark marks on the skin. They can range in severity but are almost always hard to get rid of.
There are things that may help lighten them that are found in some skincare products and/or sold by itself. This post is a roundup of all the possible treatments for these skin concerns.
Causes of hyperpigmentation and melasma
Both hyperpigmentation and melasma show up as dark marks on our skin. There is a difference between the conditions though. The following is a description of the two of them:
Hyperpigmentation- This is an excess production of melanin due to reasons such as sunspots, acne, wounds, cuts and from picking at the skin. These dark marks are common in people with darker skin tones.
Melasma- This is a condition that is mainly hormonal in nature. The dark marks are usually from some types of birth control or pregnancy.
When it comes to preventing dark spots, there are some things one can do. These include wearing sun protection when outside, getting acne under control and trying not to pick at your skin (if that is a problem).
Things that can treat hyperpigmentation and melasma
Without further ado, here are the options for the fading of dark marks:
- Hydroquinone- This is a high-powered skin lightening agent. It is in a few different OTC creams at up to 2% strength. Anything over that percentage is prescription only. It may cause irritation and/or the skin to get even darker unfortunately. If one is going to use it, it should not be used for long periods of time.
- Alpha arbutin-This comes from a plant called, bearberry. It is found in a few skincare products and can be bought in powder form. It may lighten dark spots and even out skin tones in a gentle way.
- Aloe vera gel- This comes from the aloe vera plant. It is nontoxic, soothing and full of antioxidants. It may fade dark spots and treat acne.
- Niacinamide- This is a form of vitamin B3. In addition to it being able to tackle dark spots, it can also improve texture and balance oil. It is found in powders, skincare products and capsules.
- Licorice extract- This is from the licorice plant. It may also treat acne and reduce signs of aging in addition to the dark spot fading effects. It is found in skincare products, powders, capsules and liquid drops.
- Mulberry extract- This is taken from the leaves of mulberry fruits. The extract is sold in skincare products, powders, capsules and liquid drops.
- Korean red ginseng- This is an herb from Korea. It has compounds in it that may decrease pigmentation. It is sold in powder, energy drinks, tea, liquid drops, gummy and capsule form.
- Ginkgo-This is a kind of tree. Extract from the leaves is used for its alleged body and mind benefits. The antioxidants it contains may also help with hyperpigmentation. It is sold in some skincare products as well as teas, oils, capsules and liquid drop form.
- Resveratrol- This is an extract that can be taken from things like grapes, wine, blueberries and chocolate. Its antioxidant activity may provide anti-inflammatory, anti-aging and skin lightening effects. It is sold in some skincare products, powders and capsules.
- Kojic acid- This is a chemical that comes from different types of fungi. You can find it in powder form, chemical peels, serums and many soaps.
- Papaya- This contains alpha-hydroxy acids that lighten dark spots. You can puree the fruit and use it as a mask or get it in powdered extract, serum, juice, tablet, capsule, gummy and oil form.
- Turmeric- This is made from the root of the curcuma longa plant which is in the same family as ginger. It has antioxidant, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory benefits. It may help with acne and dark spots. You can make face masks with the powder and there are also soaps made with it.
- Hesperidin- This is a flavonoid that comes from citrus fruits. It may help with wound healing, acne and dark spots. You can find it sold in powder and capsule form.
- Rosehip oil- This comes from rosehips which are fruits from rose plants. They are full of vitamin C and A. Those two vitamins may help with fading dark spots, brightening the skin and fighting acne.
- Alpha hydroxy acids (AHA)- These acids are great for the exfoliation of our skin. The ones that are best for dark marks include lactic (from sour milk), glycolic (from sugar) and mandelic (from almonds) acid. Of those three acids, glycolic is the strongest. These acids are found in serums, lotions and chemical peels.
- Beta hydroxy acids (BHA)- These acids are a lot like alpha hydroxy acids. The difference is that beta hydroxy acids go deeper into the skin. They are best for acne and oily skin conditions but may also treat hyperpigmentation. These can be found in serums, lotions and chemical peels.
- Trichloroacetic acid (TCA)-This acid is related to acetic acid which is found in vinegar. It is used to make very strong peels that aid in anti-aging, fading dark marks, fixing textural issues and reading the appearance of scars. This acid may do more harm than good for people of darker skin tones.
- Phytic acid- This is found in rice, legumes and seeds. It provides exfoliation and brightening benefits. The acid is not as well-known as other ones, but it is in a few serums and chemical peels on the market.
- Retinol and Retin-A- Both of these come from vitamin A. Retinol is the pure form and Retin-A is the synthetic form of the vitamin. The latter is stronger which may lead to better results. They both may help with acne, anti-aging, dark spots and uneven skin tone.
- Differin- This is a prescription strength retinoid that is available OTC. It is gentler than Retin-A and is FDA approved to treat acne (might be better for that purpose). Differin may also help with dark marks if they are from acne.
- Sunscreen- This is really important as UV rays can do a lot of damage over time. Putting it on throughout the day can make sure that dark marks do not get any worse than how they already are. An SPF of at least 30 is recommended.
Other possible things that people say have helped them include cinnamon, honey and pumpkin puree. DIY face masks are usually created with these three ingredients and applied once or twice a week.
My take on all these possible treatments
My hyperpigmentation comes from skin picking, acne, cuts and scratches. The dark marks are extremely stubborn and do not seem to go away or get lighter.
I have tried a lot of things on this list over the years and it is frustrating that nothing has really worked. My plan is to make my own skincare product that uses some of these ingredients as well as DMAE for more anti-aging benefits.
Currently I am using vitamin C serum from Makeup Artist’s Choice, aloe vera gel, almond oil, sunscreen, chemical peels every week and a LED light massage wand (red and green settings).
There are many options available that may help fade dark marks on your skin. Only using one of them may not yield the results you want so it would be good to look for products that contain multiple lightening agents.
Have any of you suffered from hyperpigmentation and/or melasma? What have you used to treat it?
Thanks for reading!
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