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Hyperpigmentation: How to Reduce Dark Spots on your Skin

Jul 5, 2023, 8:30:00 AM / by GlyMed Advanced Aesthetic Institute

If you’ve ever noticed dark patches of skin on your body, you’ve seen what's called hyperpigmentation. Most people have it at some point in their lives as it’s primarily caused by unprotected exposure to the sun.

Hyperpigmentation doesn’t hurt your skin. However, if you’re someone who feels self-conscious about these dark patches of skin, you’re in luck! Professional skincare can lighten hyperpigmented skin so it’s much less noticeable. If you’re not self-conscious about it, it is still a good idea to manage hyperpigmentation to prevent it from becoming worse.

Here’s everything you need to know about what causes hyperpigmentation, the different ways it appears on the skin and what you can do to avoid or minimize it.


Hyperpigmentation is a condition where the skin produces excess melanin or pigment, resulting in small or large patches of discoloration.

Melanin comes from melanocytes—octopus-shaped cells located in the top layer of your skin. The type of melanin these cells produce determines the color of your skin, hair, eyes and other parts of the body.

  • Neuromelanin: A dark pigment found in the brain.

  • Pheomelanin: A pink or red-hued pigment found in red hair, lips, nipples and reproductive glans.

  • Eumelanin: Dark pigment found in hair, nipples and skin

Although everyone has roughly the same number of melanocytes, some have more active melanocytes than others. The more active melanocytes they have, the darker their skin tone.


Hyperpigmentation occurs when some force inside or outside your body causes melanocytes to produce more melanin than normal. It stimulates the melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH) that activates melanocytes or damages these cells so that they release more melanin into your skin.

Here are some of the most common hyperpigmentation triggers.


  • UV Rays (primary cause)

  • Elevation

  • Climate

  • Outdoor Activities

  • Hot Showers

  • Vigorous Exercise

  • Saunas

  • Picking

  • Improper Extractions

  • Scrapes

  • Scars

  • Wounds

  • Improper Skin Preparation

  • Overly Aggressive Treatments


  • Pregnancy

  • Menopause

  • Autoimmune

  • Acne

  • Allergies

  • Infection

  • Skin Tone

  • Ethnicity

  • Freckles

  • Birth Control

  • Antibiotics

  • Antidepressants


Anyone can develop hyperpigmentation. However, it’s more common in people with darker skin since they already have more active melanocytes.

The face and décolleté alone contain half of the body’s melanocytes, so you’re more likely to see hyperpigmentation in these areas.


The four most common types of hyperpigmentation are:

Post-inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH) or Post Inflammatory Erythema (PIE): Red or purple pigment (PIE) or purple, darker pigment (PIH) caused by inflammation.

  • Common in acne-prone skin

  • Near the skin’s surface

  • Easy to care for

Age Spots: Small dark patches of skin from over-exposure to UV radiation

  • Also called sunspots, liver spots and solar lentigo

  • Common in aged skin

  • Deeper pigmentation

  • Harder to care for

  • Often need chemical peels

Recommended Product: Pigment Brightening Serum (See results in just 30 days!)

Melasma: Dark patches of skin caused by hormone imbalance.

  • Called the “mask of pregnancy.”

  • Usually on the face

  • Possible Triggers:

  • Birth control

  • Pregnancy

  • Menopause

  • Deep pigmentation

  • Harder to care for

  • Recommend meeting with an endocrinologist.

Recommended Products: Diamond Bright Skin Illuminator and

(Hydroquinone-free and pregnancy-safe)

Freckles: Clusters of small red or brown spots located on the face, neck, back, chest, hands or arms

  • Triggered by sun exposure.

  • Can also be genetic.

  • Common in fairer skin tones

  • Appear as young as 4 years old.

  • Can lighten but not remove.

Recommended Solution: Laser treatments


Professional skincare can reduce and even eliminate dark patches of skin, depending on what type of hyperpigmentation you have. Even for permanent hyperpigmentation, such as freckles, skincare can help make your skin tone appear much more even.


1. Tyrosinase Inhibitors: Substances used in skincare to block melanin production.

Tyrosinase is the enzyme in melanocytes that tells the cells to produce melanin. By applying tyrosinase inhibitors to your skin, you reduce pigment production.

Strong tyrosinase inhibitors give you faster results and do not increase activity on the skin, so don’t be afraid to use strong tyrosinase inhibitors when needed.

2. Sun Protection Factor: The #1 anti-pigmentation ingredient!

You’ve probably seen the letters SPF on sunscreen and other skincare. These letters stand for Sun Protection Factor, a relative measurement of how much a product protects your skin against UV radiation. The higher the number, the stronger the protection.

UV rays trigger melanin production and are the primary cause of hyperpigmentation. If you want to prevent hyperpigmentation from developing in your skin or keep any dark patches you have from becoming darker and bigger, SPF is your best bet!

For maximum UV protection, use broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Apply at least one ounce of it to your skin 15 minutes before venturing outdoors and reapply every two hours you're in the sun. You won’t regret it!

3. Chemical Peels: A series of cosmetic treatments in which skincare professionals apply an acid solution to exfoliate your skin.

Chemical peels are by far one of the best treatments for hyperpigmentation. They lighten your pigmented skin by removing dead cells and generating new ones. Depending on what type of hyperpigmentation you have, you can see results just after the first peel!

Ask your esthetician about receiving an AHA or TCA chemical peel as these peels are highly effective and safe for every skin tone.

Your esthetician will let you know how many chemical peels they think you’ll need as well as which products to use at home to prevent the pigmentation from coming back.

WHY YOUR HOME CARE REGIMEN MATTERS Regardless of what clinical skincare treatments you get, 80 percent of results will depend on what you do at home. Follow the home care regimen your esthetician recommends. This skincare routine will include tyrosinase inhibitors to keep melanocytes from producing too much melanin. It’s always easier—and less expensive—to prevent hyperpigmentation than reduce it, so commit to doing your regimen. TREAT THE SKIN AS A WHOLE Like an iceberg, much of your hyperpigmentation lies below the surface where you can’t see it. To keep pigment below the skin from rising to the surface, apply skincare to the entire area where your hyperpigmentation is showing. By treating the skin as a whole, you will reduce hyperpigmentation much faster. CONCLUSION Now that you have a solid understanding of hyperpigmentation, you are ready to transform your skin! If you have any questions and would like to speak to one of our friendly Master Aestheticians in your area, please email


Hyperpigmentation - To Reduce Dark Spots on Your Skin
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