Did you know there’s more than one kind of hyperpigmentation? In essence, hyperpigmentation is the accumulation of excess melanin - aka, the molecule in our skin, hair and eyes that give them colour.
However, sometimes our skin cells act a little bit out of whack thanks to different stressors in our environment and on our skin, resulting in uneven skin tone and blotchy skin.
Here’s our guide to the different kinds of hyperpigmentation and how to resolve it for clear, even skin again.
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The Different Types of Hyperpigmentation
Hyperpigmentation is an excess of melanin in certain spots in the skin, creating uneven skin tone and darker spots. Most people have probably experienced some form of hyperpigmentation in their lives - the most common kinds we’ll talk about today are post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH), Melasma, and Sun Spots.
What is PIH?
PIH most commonly appears as dark spots left behind after acne heals. They’re also called post-acne spots or acne scars, although they’re not true hypertrophic scars that change your skin’s texture. This type of hyperpigmentation occurs due to your skin’s natural healing process, which sends a few too many melanocytes to help your skin heal.
And the thing is, PIH isn’t exclusive to just popping up after acne - it can appear after anytime your skin undergoes a bit of trauma, which can include everything from bug bites to eczema. PIH has the potential to appear anywhere your skin has been irritated or broken - any dark spots after acne or irritation are likely to be PIH over the other types of hyperpigmentation.
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What is Melasma?
This type of hyperpigmentation is most common in women due to the hormonal nature of it, but men can also experience this, too. It’s more common in deeper skin tones and is also called the ‘pregnancy mask’ due to the increased likelihood of it happening during or after pregnancy.
Melasma appears as uneven, yet symmetrical splotches of darker skin on your face. I mean symmetrical as in, if there’s a spot of melasma on your right cheekbone, your other cheekbone will also probably have a spot developing there, too. This distinguishes melasma from plain old sunspots, which develop in places where the sun constantly hits the skin.
Another way you can tell if you have melasma is that it’s appeared on the upper lip area - this is a surefire way to tell that this isn’t run of the mill sunspots! Melasma can also be caused by exposure to pollution, which kickstarts the excess pigmentation process.
What are Sun Spots?
Sun spots are the type of small, irregular patches of pigmentation that appear on skin that’s been constantly exposed to the sun. They’re also called age spots and their scientific term is solar lentigo. They’re a sign of photodamage to the skin and can appear anywhere - but most commonly pop up on the high points of the face and the hands.
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How to Deal with Hyperpigmentation
Luckily, reducing the look of hyperpigmentation (no matter the kind) is easy with two simple steps: using a melanin production inhibiting skincare ingredient, and regular sunscreen usage. Skincare ingredients to lighten dark spots include Niacinamide, Retinol, Vitamin C, Peptides, and more.
If you could only go with one of the two, we’d have to recommend sunscreen! Preventing the sun from darkening any hyperpigmentation will go a long way to ensuring that your skin returns to an even, glowing tone fast and prevents any more from forming.
Trying to create the perfect skincare routine to lighten dark spots? Try our skincare quiz!