There's nothing more frustrating than hitting up that girl with great clear skin on Instagram to ask about her routine and she hits you with "I just drink lots of water"
Drinking lots of water is great for you but when it comes to hyperpigmentation, you're simply going to need more chemicals than water to get the job done.
You'll notice I said chemicals. Yes, I said what I said.
Although parabens (preservatives used in cosmetics) were found in breast cancer tissue, it's still not clear if they actually cause cancer.
"Non-toxic" "chemical-free" have become marketing ploys to imply that a product is safe because it only contains natural ingredients.
Honey, people tell lies on the internet! Natural doesn't always mean effective or good for you.
Just because lemon is natural, doesn't mean you should put it on your face. Actually, you are at risk of chemical burns if you put lemon juice on your face.
Every self-proclaimed skin expert for melanin-rich skin is always quick to recommend Black soap and Aztec clay for every single skin problem but you won't be seeing those items on this post.
What is Hyperpigmentation?
Although increased melanin provides protection from harmful effects of UV radiation, including photodamage and skin cancers, it also makes darker skin types more vulnerable to pigmentation issues as a result of the overproduction of melanin.
There are different types of hyperpigmentation (melasma, ashy dermatosis and more) but we'll be focusing on Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation in this article.
How do I know if I have Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation?
PIH is a concentration of pigment on the skin at an injury site. It is commonly referred to in skin care forums and twitter chats as "acne scarring" since it shows up after acne.
How do I avoid it?
Don't POP your pimples, or put toothpaste on them
Use Sunscreen, every single day. Girl, I know many of the sunscreen products available leave an ashy white cast on dark-skinned people but sunscreen is a must for maintaining skin health. There are new options like Unsun cosmetics, Black Girl Sunscreen and more that offer cast-free sunscreen
Sis, I'm only reading this because I already have it. How do I make it go away?
- Sunscreen: Yes dark skin has an "in-built sunscreen" because of all that melanin magic but “UV exposure causes cell damage, and the body produces more melanin as a protective mechanism,” says David Bank, M.D., director of The Center for Dermatology, Cosmetic and Laser Surgery in Westchester County, N.Y. Although natural oils like coconut oil and castor oil have SPF values, their SPF values are very low compared to the SPF 30 recommended by the American Academy of Dermatology. As mentioned earlier, natural doesn't mean more effective.
- AHAs/BHAs: Don't fall for the Instagram gimmicks, magic oils and harsh scrubs (We're looking at you St Ives Apricot!) Glycolic acid, Salicylic acid and Lactic Acid have been shown to be effective in addressing hyperpigmentation. In high concentrations, they function as chemical peels (ideally administered by a dermatologist) and in lower concentrations they can be used weekly or even daily depending on skin sensitivity. Potential side events include redness, irritation, and sensitivity. Affordable AHAs/BHAs can be purchased from The Ordinary. Another affordable personal favorite of mine is the CORSX Power Liquid which can be purchased from Amazon
- Vitamin C: We're not talking about vitamin supplements here. We're talking about topical vitamin c serums. Vit C serums are THAT girl when it comes to hyperpigmentation. Watch out though, if you use it without sunscreen you're at risk of matching your hyperpigmentation WORSE. So like I've said several times, sunscreen is non-negotiable. The best Vit C serums have concentrations of 10-15%.
- Niacinamide: This is just a fancy name for Vitamin B3. Applying niacinamide topically has benefits for skin brightening and giving hyperpigmentation the pink slip.
As with all skincare products, you gotta patch test these products before applying to your face. I'm not a dermatologist, these are simply products that have worked for me. Please consult with a dermatologist as they can prescribe AHAs in higher concentrations and acids like Azelaic acid for you.
If you were looking for a magic potion, sorry it doesn't exist! Hyperpigmentation is a skin condition that requires a comprehensive solution so think twice about anyone offering a single treatment option.
Drinking water and minding your business isn't totally useless advice for life but these treatments are a better bet for treating dark spots and hyperpigmentation.