Over the course of the last 15 years or so, I’ve tried numerous ways to remove hyperpigmentation from my face. Some cases were quite easy to deal with, others, hideously stubborn.
Getting rid of those dark patches of skin can be made a lot easier if you know what caused them, as there are quite a few reasons as to why they appear. Once you know the underlying cause, your chances of getting rid of any darker pigmentation marks are high. So here my top tips on what creams, remedies and treatments to try (and what not to try) and what has worked for me.
- #1 - What Is The Cause?
Before you go about trying to remove hyperpigmentation, you need to know what caused it in the first place. If you don’t know already – find out, this is a major factor when deciding what treatments would work best for you.
Hyperpigmentation on the face comes in many shapes and forms, the main cause is skin trauma of some kind, along with hormonal and hereditary issues. Here’s a breakdown of the likely causes.
UV Damage - Over exposure to the elements – sun, cold and wind can all contribute to skin damage on the face. This will lead to age spots and darker patches of skin.
Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (Acne Scars) Recurring bouts of acne make many peoples lives a misery, and to add insult to injury, acne can leave significant scarring on the face.
Melasma – Melasma usually effects women during pregnancy, hence the nickname – “mask of pregnancy”, but can also affect men. Melasma appears as brown patches of skin on the forehead, cheeks or nose, often all three.
Freckles - Freckles are probably the most common form of hyperpigmentation. Affects the fair skinned, and is usually hereditary. More freckles appear with exposure to the sun.
Hormonal Imbalances - Hormonal balance occurs when the body goes through change of some kind, birth control pills, illness, stress or just natural change can all effect your skin.
This is a shortlist of the main causes of hyperpigmentation, but by no means conclusive. There could be numerous other reasons for it to appear, but this will give you a good idea as to what may be causing the pigmentation changes on your face.
- #2 - Address The Cause First.
Once you know what is causing your hyperpigmentation, it’s time to address it. There’s no point in trying to remove hyperpigmentation if you don’t address the cause, you will just end up in an endless cycle of treating it and it reappearing.
UV Protection – In the words of Baz Luhrmann – “If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it“. One cause of hyperpigmentation on my face was down to over exposure to sun and wind. I spend a lot of time in, on or around the ocean, so over the years I damaged the skin on my face by not protecting it from the elements. I used sunscreen all the time, but not a high enough SPF (sun protection factor) and didn’t apply it often enough. The result was darker patches on my cheekbones, forehead and nose. Protect your skin at all times with a good quality suncreen.
Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (acne scars) – Sufferers of recurring bouts of acne are in an endless cycle of skin trauma and skin repair. This cycle leads to scarring of the skin, and is a notoriously hard form of hyperpigmentation to remove. The best advise is to try and treat the cause of the acne outbreaks before you try to remove the scarring. There are numerous reasons for recurring outbreaks – hormonal imbalances, skin type, diet and lifestyle can all contribute. I can sympathize with sufferers of hyperpigmentation scarring, as my second case of hyperpigmentation was due to scars left from the chicken pox virus. (I was 39 and that’s another story!) The virus left many pigmentation scars, especially on the face, where the pox had been.
Hormonal Imbalance – Homonal imbalances can be a major factor in any kind of hyperpigmentation. Pregnancy will obviously cause hormonal balance, and birth control pills are notorious for causing darker areas of skin on the face. Stopping birth control altogether, or changing brands will help. Stress, lack of sleep and bad diet can all effect the skin.
- #3 – Removing Hyperpigmentation From The Face.
Personally, I’m a big believer in a natural approach to treating hyperpigmentation, as it has worked for me, but there are numerous clinical procedures to choose from. Laser treatments and microdermabrasion do have good success rates, but treatments can be pricey. I believe you might consider these treatments as a last resort if all else fails.
An alternative to these procedures is the home acid peel. Despite it’s name “acid peel”, acid peels are natural substances. The most popular acid peel is Glycolic acid, a substance derived from sugar cane. Other popular peels are Salicylic acid (extracted from willow tree bark) and Lactic acid (sourced from soured milk). There are excellent reports of how well a home acid peel can work on the appearance of hyperpigmentation, especially cases of post inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
I have tried almost everything you can imagine to remove hyperpigmentation, home remedies, obscure Chinese herbal mixtures, and applied gloop to my face mixed from all manner of plants and fruits. BUT, with much trial and error, I succeeded.
- #4 – What Worked For Me
Here I’m going list what I’ve tried with varying degrees of success. Bear in mind that there is no “instant fix” for hyperpigmentation, and that includes top dollar clinical treatments. Everything you try should be given a “fair go”, and remember that you will only see results if you persevere.
Apple Cider Vinegar – As far as I’m concerned, this stuff is miraculous. An age old remedy for just about everything. Apple cider vinegar has amazing health benefits, not least, the appearance of your skin. Drink this twice a day – morning and night, and apply it to the darker skin once a day with a cotton pad or ball. As a drink, add 2 tablespoons to half a glass of warm water and add 1 tablespoon of honey to taste. The stuff you’re after is the organic kind and will often say on the label – “With The Mother”. Bragg’s Organic Cider Vinegar is what I use.
Vitamin E Oil - You can buy this in bottle form or in capsules, Personally I use the capsules and nip one end off with scissors and squeeze onto the skin. Amazingly beneficial for the skin.
Natural Hyperpigmentation Cream - There are literally hundreds to choose from, and I’ve tried a few, but the one I had the most success with was Meladerm. I used the cream at the same time as applying apple cider vinegar, and I’m pretty sure the combination of both was why I had such success. I applied the apple cider vinegar once every evening and the cream twice a day – in the morning and before bed.
(A note on creams: I opted for Meladerm because it contains no hydroquinone or other any other chemicals harmful to your health, it contains 100% natural ingredients.)
Lemon or Lime – I thought I was getting somewhere with using lemon juice to lighten my hyperpigmentation scars, as they were definitely looking lighter. Unfortunately my skin is quite sensitive and it was too acidic for me. You could try diluting a little with some water if you have the same problem. Just squeeze the juice of a lemon into a glass and apply it, or put slices directly on the skin.
Oatmeal Face Mask – I’m pretty sure this face mask was beneficial, oatmeal contains enzymes and minerals that can really help to repair damaged skin. Leave on for 30 minutes then rinse off with warm water.
1 x Cupful of cooked oatmeal mixed with a little natural yogurt
1 x tablespoon of lemon juice (optional)
Diet - I can already here you groaning but your diet will really help the appearance of your skin. Lots of fresh fruit and vegetables and drink lots of water until you’re sick of the sight of it. When I first started out, I didn’t think this would be as beneficial as everyone was saying, but it really does help. Cutting down on the junk food, caffeine and chocolate, and eating and drinking more healthily will have an amazing effect on your skin.
Turmeric – Turmeric is another of natures miracles. Amazing health benfits and especially good for the skin. The best way to use turmeric is to buy a good quality organic supplement, and take once a day.
And there it is, I believe a combination of all of the above has helped me to remove the hyperpigmentation marks from my face. My sun damage faded over a 2 month period, getting rid of the scarring took longer, 12 weeks and they were starting to fade, 16 weeks and they were barely noticable.
As I said earlier, there is no “quick fix”, so perseverance is the key. If something definitely isn’t working, try something else. But as with all skin treatments, it will take time and patience.