So Hyper-Pigmentation is one skin issue that I've had a dysfunctional relationship with for most of my life. (Relatable? Or nah?) I've reeeaaaallly had to work on creating a healthier dynamic with it. And the reality is that I just didn't understand it and just hated that I had to deal with it at all. I've had to learn accept and embrace that it's going to be a part of my life. But now that I'm learning so much about my beloved "dark marks", I really want to help others understand the real truth about it for themselves.
As a black woman, I've always had the perception that "black don't crack". But no-one "really" told me the truth about how melanated skin has extremely special ways that it needs to be handled. Although black women aren't the only people who deal with this issue, it's very common amongst people of color. Fairer women do deal with it in the form of age marks and melasma as well. To simply define what it is, hyper-pigmentation is a medical term used to describe darker patches of skin, which result from excess melanin production.
Once our skin experiences trauma (a bad break out, a cut, burn, etc), our bodies send a signal to heal. As the more melanated in this dynamic, this includes "extra extra" pigment. Which results in our darker marks. Some of us experience it on more intense levels than others. And that could honestly be related to many other factors like ethnic background, lifestyle choices, the fitzpatrick scale, hormones and more. But those are other posts in themselves. I'll try to keep this one focused on the topic at hand.
An interesting observation I've had recently is that ideally the trauma tends to be caused by "heat". Or, the way our bodies deal with heat. That heat could show up in the form sunshine (it's most natural form, which causes a natural tan right?) or internally, like inflammation in the body (which can cause breakouts) or even smoking. The point is that heat will cause the skin darken (create pigment). So this is where we see issues like under eye circles, darkened areas from shaving, lips darkened from smoking, etc.
So how do we get rid of it? Well, the good news is that there are many ways to treat it. The issue comes with understanding and being realistic with the results and how long they may take depending on the route that you choose. Very rarely will you see lasting results in a time span of less than 6 months. (Just to keep it 100 with ya!) So the majority of oils, masks and any overnight miracle Instagram ad is pretty much a lie. (Sorry to tell you). But here are some real options that I have tried myself and can guarantee will work:
Serums/Creams: These can work but again the quality is extremely important. I have had good results from this Eventone Serum by Skinbetter Science. The key is to use it consistently in your skincare regimen, primarily at night. And even use it to compliment more aggressive treatments like lasers or chemical peels. And wearing a full spectrum sunscreen with any product for lightening is a DEAL BREAKER. You will reverse the results if you don't. So to put it simply, serums and creams are the slowest route to clearing dark spots completely.
Chemical Peels: These definitely work! But you may need a series to see a big difference. The key is to work with a professional to find the right peel for your needs and make sure that you have the right after care products. Because peels can be gentle or get quite aggressive with exfoliation, it will be critical to treat your skin gently. You don't want to stimulate any deeper issues in the healing phase. To put it simply, follow directions to the tea!
Lasers: This is the fastest and most intensive option! However, also the most pricey. And it's critical to do your research before selecting a treatment. You may need a series of treatments as well. But a laser can go in and bust up that pigment in a way that nothing else can. Think of the dark mark or pigment like a boulder. The laser goes in like a jack hammer and breaks that down into smaller rocks, gravel, then eventually dust. That way you don't see the pigment anymore. To put it simply, this is the most effective way to remove it quickly.
We have every single one of these options at Essential Aesthetics and Laser, where I work in Charlotte! If you have questions about the best treatment plan for your specific needs, book a consultation. They are FREE! And it's the most ideal way to customize the information I've shared here to what your specific needs and goals may be. As always, your feedback and questions are welcome! Leave a comment to let me know if this is helpful and how I can create more content to help you reach your beauty goals!