Understanding Hyperpigmentation and How to Treat It (and Prevent It)
As summer winds down and says “goodbye,” you might be greeted with new and unwanted dark spots. Or maybe you’ve had a form of hyperpigmentation for a while. Whether you’re dealing with dark spots, sun spots, melasma, a collection of new and unwanted freckles, or any of the other myriad ways of describing this frustrating skin concern, they’re all components of hyperpigmentation—an especially common yet stubborn skin issue.
Given that traditional hyperpigmentation treatments are toxic, painful, outrageously expensive, or all of the above, we’ve always advocated for treating it with skin-brightening antioxidants. But we before we get into how to prevent and fade it, let’s cover what exactly hyperpigmentation is.
What IS hyperpigmentation?
Simply put, hyperpigmentation refers to an overproduction of melanin. It’s primarily caused by UV exposure, aka: too much sun, not enough SPF. Melasma is a form of hyperpigmentation caused by hormonal sensitivity to sun exposure. Women who are pregnant, using hormonal birth control, or undergoing hormone replacement therapy are all susceptible to it, as are people with darker complexions.
Is hyperpigmentation dangerous?
Hyperpigmentation itself is not dangerous, but, with the exception of melasma, it reveals having gotten too much sun exposure, which is of course, damaging to the skin. And once it’s there, it’s hard (but not impossible) to reverse. So prevention is key.
Can it be prevented?
Avoiding sun exposure is the best way to prevent hyperpigmentation, but that’s not always realistic. Wearing SPF, hats, and feeding skin healthy nutrients, including skin-brightening antioxidants, can help keep hyperpigmentation at bay.
Why look for natural treatments for hyperpigmentation?
One of the main treatments used to address hyperpigmentation is highly toxic. Hydroquinone scores a 9 (out of 10, with 10 being the highest) on EWG’s ingredient toxicity scale, and is listed as a known human respiratory toxicant and a possible carcinogen (meaning cancer cause). No wonder the EU has banned it. The good news is that treating and preventing hyperpigmentation can be done effectively and non-toxically.
The nontoxic way to fight hyperpigmentation
We’ve covered the incredible natural ingredients that fade melanin before: vitamin C, niacinamide, sodium alginate, resveratrol, and superoxide dismutase. Find them in our Renew Cellular Repair Serum and Vitamin C Booster. Now, with the launch of the Antioxidant Booster, we offer another powerful and potent skin brightening treatment.
Created through a process patented by Cornell University, the Antioxidant Booster is the first beauty product ever to harness the power of whole apple peel, which, on its own, contains a number of powerful antioxidants. In their full, natural form, antioxidants can perform at the highest possible level. When it comes to antioxidants, we’re firm believers that more is more, so we combined some of the most powerful ones around for this multitasking booster. Why is it so effective on excess melanin production? Because it’s packed full of these skin-brightening antioxidants:
Polyphenols are antioxidant-rich micronutrients found in thousands of plant-based foods, including apple peel. They increase microcirculation (blood flow) and have been found to inhibit melanin production and contain brightening properties.
This antioxidant is responsible for giving tomatoes, peppers, plums, and carrots their distinctive red hues. It’s been found to give the skin a boost of yellowness, which, while it might not sound appealing, actually bestows a healthy glow. Carotenoids also stimulates collagen and elastin, reduce oxidative stress, and work to repair and regenerate protein fibers in the skin that have been damaged by UV light. In fact, some types of carotenoids actually absorb UV light, protecting the skin from sunburn.
This antioxidant has been shown to inhibit UVA-induced oxidative stress—that’s key for preventing hyperpigmentation even before it occurs. It also boosts collagen and has anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties which help keep skin clear and blemish and irritation-free.
Resveratrol is actually an ultra-antioxidant-rich member of the polyphenol family. Found in grape skin, it works to preserve skin’s youthfulness by protecting stem cells and DNA, and scientists have found resveratrol to be an effective depigmentation agent.
Quercetin also falls under the umbrella of polyphenols. Like carotenoids, quercetin is responsible for the pigment in some of our favorite fruits and vegetables—it occurs naturally in red onion, kale, and berries in addition to apples. Quercetin has been found to aid the skin in protecting against free radicals and extend the life of human cells.
Shop our hyperpigmentation treatments:
- Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database, https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/703041/HYDROQUINONE/.
- American Academy of Dermatology, https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/color-problems/melasma.
- “Oxidative stress status in patients with melasma,” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24147944.
- “Melasma: a clinical and epidemiological review," https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4155956/.