Now that your summer tan has faded, are you noticing brown spots on your skin? There are ways to get rid of hyperpigmentation naturally! Read on
By Chere Di Boscio
Now is the time, friends! If you’ve discovered tiny (or not so tiny) brown marks on your skin, winter is the time to get rid of them.
These dots are the result of an increase in the amount of melanin being produced in some parts of the skin. If the skin is unable to naturally remove this excess melanin, you can get excessive or hyperpigmentation. Common causes include cumulative exposure to the sun (over several years), a reaction to some medications, hormones, genes or injury or inflammation to the skin.
And don’t think this is an issue faced by only the fair of skin. Oh no! Darker skin tones tend to be more affected by this problem, too. In fact, no matter what your ethnicity, over time, it’s likely you will get at least a few spots on your skin. Unfortunately, many try to even out their skin tone with harmful skin lightening ingredients that can cause all kinds of health issues.
So, what else can be done? Can you get rid of hyperpigmentation naturally?
The short answer is…kind of. What we do know for sure is that the best time to treat hyperpigmentation is in the winter, when you’re out in the sun much less. But there’s much more to it than that. We asked skincare expert and the co-founder of ESK Skincare, Dr. Ginni Mansberg, for some advice.
How To Get Rid Of Hyperpigmentation Naturally
Why are some women more prone to pigmentation than others?
Often, we don’t know why it happens. Genetics and in some cases, hormones, can play a big role in hyperpigmentation. But it is exposure to the sun (even incidentally) that really ups your chances of hyperpigmentation.
Is sun protection the only true preventative strategy for avoiding brown spots, or can other practises minimise pigmentation?
Sun protection is definitely the most important factor in reducing the risk of hyperpigmentation. Of course, that includes a broad-spectrum sunscreen. The sun’s UVA rays that contribute to pigmentation are there from sunrise to sunset 365 days a year, so broad-spectrum sunscreen should be used daily as part of your skincare routine.
But managing skin conditions like acne and rosacea that cause inflammation in your skin can also reduce your risk of developing dark spots in the first place.
What type of skincare ingredients can help minimise the appearance of pigmentation?
There are 4 main groups of ingredients which can help reduce hyperpigmentation. Best results are achieved by using various strategies at the same time.
1. Tyrosinase inhibitors
These are a group of compounds which suppress tyrosinase, one of the key building blocks of melanin (the pigment in your skin). While these take some time to work, they are viewed as the most effective compounds on the market. Hydroquinone, largely viewed as the gold standard ingredient in depigmentation is one of these, but it has increasingly been coming under a safety cloud and is generally not recommend for use for more than 3 months – if at all. One of the most promising ingredients in this group is 4-n-butylresorcinol. It is very effective, and importantly, it is very well tolerated and safe for long term use (even during pregnancy).
2. Transport disruption
Pigment is made in cells called melanocytes and is transported to cells called keratinocytes, where it is deposited. Ingredients like Vitamin B (Niacinamide) and to a lesser degree Vitamin A (eg. Retinal) inhibit the transport of Melanin to keratinocytes, meaning that there is less deposited there and less pigmentation.
3. Increasing skin cell turnover
Vitamin A (eg. Retinol) is the ultimate ingredient to increase skin cell turnover. This helps “flush” melanin from the skin.
Antioxidants like Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) interact with copper ions in the skin (one of the elements that would otherwise be involved in the process of making melanin). They “switch off” the message to create melanin by deactivating Reactive Oxygen Species (which are formed following exposure to the sun’s UV).
What skincare ingredients should we look out for if we want to reduce hyperpigmentation naturally?
There are quite a few. Here are some of my favourites.
4-n-Butylresorcinol (4nB), pronounced “4-n-beautal-resorcinol”, is considered one of the most exciting depigmenting ingredients to emerge in modern skincare. Operating similarly to hydroquinone, a rather harsh skin lightening agent, 4nB inhibits tyrosinase activity. However, unlike hydroquinone, 4nB is an all natural, copper-based skin enzyme involved in the creation of melanin.
As I mentioned previously, pigmentation is best managed via multiple pathways simultaneously, including increased exfoliation, improved antioxidant support and reduced melanin transfer. But that being said, tyrosinase inhibition is proven to be the most effective and safest treatment to date.
With users seeing results in as little as 6 weeks, this ingredient has been scientifically proven to be more effective than other depigmenting agents such as arbutin, azelaic acid, and kojic acid. It also provides superior results in terms of skin clarity and tolerance over a shorter period of time.
Ideal for pregnant and/or breastfeeding mothers, including those prone to skin sensitivity, 4nB is considered to be a gentler and more effective alternative to hydroquinone-based formulations, particularly in the treatment of melasma and overall skin rejuvenation.
Better known as vitamin B3, niacinamide is one of the most potent anti-inflammatories in skincare. A relative newcomer in commercial cosmetic formulations, this ingredient is supported by strong evidence attesting to its efficacy in the management and treatment of a range of skin concerns including acne, rosacea, hyperpigmentation, dermatitis and wrinkles. It has also been shown to reduce the risk of non-melanoma skin cancers.
When applied topically, niacinamide helps regulate normal skin cell function and turnover while simultaneously improving the skin’s moisture barrier through the production of ceramides. It has also been shown to help balance sebum production, increase collagen synthesis and reduce post-inflammatory redness caused by skin disorders and topical active ingredients.
Combating discolouration on a cellular level, this ingredient has also been shown to reduce the transfer of melanin to keratinocytes where pigment is deposited. This makes niacinamide a particularly useful ingredient for treating hyperpigmentation and brightening the skin’s overall complexion.
Suitable for all skin types, including those prone to sensitivity, vitamin B3 is used by over 400 enzymes in the body making it the single most widely used vitamin in enzyme-based activity.
Can you ever truly get rid of hyperpigmentation naturally with creams?
Sometimes. Some hyperpigmentation is created deep in the skin and is very hard to remove. Hyperpigmentation which is closer to the surface of the skin can usually be significantly reduced and in some cases removed completely. At that point hyperpigmentation can usually be kept at bay if sun exposure is properly managed (by avoidance, wearing protective clothing like hats, and sunscreen use) and if effective (evidence based) skincare is used.
Would you recommend any other ways to get rid of hyperpigmentation? Say, via high tech solutions?
There are other practices that can reduce and in some cases, even remove hyperpigmentation. There are in-clinic procedures like certain kinds of lasers, IPL therapy and microdermabrasion which may help. But these often come with discomfort and high costs. There’s also the (rare) possibility in some users of making things worse.
Microneedling as in-clinic procedure can also help and has lower levels of discomfort and quicker recovery time.
Natural Anti-Hyperpigmentation Products to Try
This serum is over 70% organic and is mainly powered by Kakadu Plum, which boasts the world’s richest source of Vitamin C (50% more than oranges!). The light, natural formula unleashes its brightening benefits to effectively lighten the appearance of dark spots and even out your skin tone.
Besides being one of the best ways to get rid of hyperpigmentation naturally, it’s also brimming with anti-ageing properties. There’s rosehip oil, which fights free radicals, and Aspen bark, which plumps up fine lines. Apply daily onto cleansed skin – and then, let nature do her work!
Vitamin C application has been shown to impede melanin production. This can help fade dark spots and lead to a more even-toned complexion.
Wildcrafted Organics uses magnesium ascorbyl phosphate which is a bioactive form of vitamin C as powerful collagen stimulator enhanced by a phospholipid delivery system that penetrates the deeper dermal layers.
This Serum also contains Kakadu plum (contains the highest level of Vitamin C) Illawarra plum and Burdekin plum. These Australian Wild harvested super fruits have been shown to reduce oxidative damage to the skin stimulate hyaluronic acid synthesis hydrating the skin, increasing procollagen one and fibronectin synthesis and thus limiting the ageing process.
Improve hyperpigmentation and your skin’s overall appearance by regularly using this rich mask!
It’s fortified with volcanic mud from New Zealand, as well as a unique antioxidant compound, called Vinanza®. This was created to minimise the appearance of redness and pigmentation for a more refined, even complexion. This wonderfully scented, creamy mask blends effortlessly into the skin, and will bathe your senses in a cloud of vanilla and raspberry fragrances.
We love this company for how it combines science with nature to care for your skin!
Made in Australia, this gentle cream is one of the best ways to get rid of hyperpigmentation naturally. It contains a tyrosinase inhibitor and the antioxidant niacinamide to lighten and brighten skin appearance and provide a more even skin tone.
Niacinamide provides visible improvements within 3 weeks, and 4-n-butylresorcinol significantly improves outcomes after 2 – 3 months of continuous use.
The energizing complex of ionized oxygen contained in the Lightening Gel by IOXEL, kojic acid, vitamin C, agar and jojoba oil effectively lightens skin discolorations, offering a visibly radiant, bright and clear complexion.
Maximised absorption of active ingredients into skin provides a continual source of nutrition. The ionized oxygen patented technology by IOXEL is 100% pure energy delivered into the cell, unleashing a series of reactions that help reactivate metabolism, stimulate cell renewal, and prolong cellular life.
Avant skincare is another company that combines nature and technology. They’ve produced this anti-dark spot treatment to target stubborn and hard to remove melanin spots that are trapped deep in the skin. The end result with continued use is a much more even skin tone.
It contains three key ingredients: Glutamic Acid, Lumisphere and Symwhite. Lumisphere is the main one for removing dark spots. It reduces the melanin level in the skin, and is naturally derived from Scotch pine bark. Symwhite helps address skin discoloration and uneven skin tone, leaving skin brighter and more radiant.
This cream is another way to get rid of hyperpigmentation naturally! It functions with the power of B vitamins, namely Vitamin B12, and is based on Korean skincare technology. In addition to B12, there’s a multivitamin complex of vitamins B3, B5, A, C and E that harnesses antioxidant action to protect skin from external stressors that cause ageing.
The 2-in-1 anti-ageing and anti-hyperpigmentation cream also uses other natural ingredients like Vitamin Tree Seed combined with Grapefruit extract to promote a calm and clarified complexion.
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