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The 20 Best Products (and Ingredients) That Seriously Fade Hyperpigmentation

Last Updated

Dec 16, 2021

Hyperpigmentation comes in many forms, ranging from post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (aka PIH or post-acne marks) and sun spots to melasma. And if you happen to struggle with any of these pesky dark spots and patches, you know all too well that they can be difficult to fade—no matter your skin type or tone.

What Causes Hyperpigmentation?

According to NYC-based dermatologist Michele Green, MD, sun exposure is the primary factor that contributes to hyperpigmentation. “Damaging UV rays from sunlight can produce an increase in melanin production in the skin, leading to hyperpigmentation,” she explains.

However, Dr. Green cites a variety of other causes behind the development of hyperpigmentation, which include “fluctuations in hormone levels, a genetic predisposition to hyperpigmentation, the healing process associated with an inflammatory wound (like acne), and skin damage caused by laser treatment.”

She also adds that certain medications including antibiotics can increase photosensitivity, resulting in a greater risk of developing dark spots or discolored patches on the skin.

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Are Some People More Likely to Develop Hyperpigmentation Than Others?

“Facial hyperpigmentation can occur in individuals of any skin tone and type,” Dr. Green shares. “And depending on the underlying cause, it may appear at any age.”

However, Dr. Green does note that when it comes to melasma in particular, this skin condition—which is characterized by gray/brown patches of skin—primarily affects women, with only 10 percent of melasma cases coming from men.

“Melasma is also more commonly found in those who have a light to medium brown skin tone (Fitzpatrick skin types III and IV) and darker skin tones (Fitzpatrick skin types V and VI),” she adds. “There are more melanocytes (melanin-producing cells) present in brown skin, meaning that there is a greater potential for making a larger amount of melanin than there is in lighter skin.” Also on account of their higher melanocyte count, people with darker skin tones often cite other types of hyperpigmentation as a top skin concern.

Lastly, Dr. Green adds that having a family history of melasma or hyperpigmentation indicates a greater likelihood of developing discoloration.

The Best Ingredients for Hyperpigmentation

To effectively fade dark spots, you’ll need to prioritize ingredients that lighten, brighten, exfoliate, and protect, such as vitamin C, niacinamide, licorice root, alpha arbutin, sunscreen, and select skincare acids (such as tranexamic acid and AHAs kojic acid and mandelic acid).

To make your haul a bit easier, we’re rounding up the best products for hyperpigmentation—ranging from serums and sunscreens to moisturizers and masks—that pack these powerhouse ingredients.

Shop the Best Products for Hyperpigmentation