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Hyperpigmentation Removal: What You Need To Know


Hyperpigmentation Removal: What You Need To Know

This post is brought to you by our Esthetics Experts Panel, composed of skin care professionals, educators + authorities with decades of experience in the industry.

Do you suffer from sun spots, discoloration or dark acne scars? You're not alone. Dark spots and discoloration, otherwise known as hyperpigmentation, are one of the most common skin concerns in the United States, especially if you have a darker skin tone. Keep reading to learn about hyperpigmentation removal now.

hyperpigmentation types and causes

From tans to acne, your skin keeps a visible record of the trauma it faces, which often shows up in the form of hyperpigmentation.

"When addressing hyperpigmentation, it's really important to understand what it actually is and that it is a journey to properly target and correct it," shares Amber Murphy, licensed esthetician at Advanced Skin Care Suite. "Your skin gets its color from pigment-producing cells known as melanocytes. Melanocytes produce melanin which gives your skin its unique color. When the melanocytes are damaged, unhealthy or pushed into overdrive, they start to produce excessive melanin in certain areas, causing those areas to darken."

While it might not show up for days or even years afterward, the hyperpigmentation you see now is the result of one of three triggers that causes the excess production of melanin.

hyperpigmentation trigger: UV exposure

UV rays – whether via the sun or trips to the tanning bed – results in a tan, which is a response to injury in the skin.

"A tan is simply a visible, uniform melanin increase activated by sunlight in exposed skin," explains Laura Kania, licensed esthetician at Snips SpaSalon. "Melanin is the skin's natural protective mechanism; a defense against ultraviolet radiation."

Unfortunately, the same sun exposure that darkens the skin simultaneously damages the skin, which ultimately leads to abnormal melanin production. High UV exposure over time will produce unevenly distributed patches of melanin, often called age spots.

"UV radiation has a cumulative effect, and deposits of excess melanin amass over time," adds Kania. "Many age spots that seem to appear out of nowhere have actually been decades in the making."

hyperpigmentation trigger: hormonal imbalance

Hormonal birth control, hormone replacement therapy and pregnancy can cause a surge of hormones that cause uneven melanin production, leading to what's called melasma – or "the mask of pregnancy." Exposure to UV radiation can make it more pronounced.

Melasma can be identified by its presence on both sides of the face in a symmetrical pattern. Pregnancy is the main culprit, but birth control pills have been known to cause it as well. Like all estheticians, Kania always recommends consulting your doctor about any major skin changes.

hyperpigmentation trigger: injury

Waxing, acne, insect bites and razor bumps can cause inflammation and excess pigmentation at the site of irritation. This is often called Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (or PIH). UV exposure can make it appear even darker, and PIH occurs in roughly 65% of African Americans (1).

A common instance of PIH is the discolored spot that remains after a pimple, insect bite or other skin injury has otherwise mended. Even after the inflammation that initially triggered the excess melanin production is long gone, the hyperpigmentation persists, fading very slowly.

Kania also warns that some oral antibiotics prescribed for acne actually render the skin more susceptible to hyperpigmentation due to an increased risk of excess UV exposure, "so those with acne need to be especially careful of PIH."

hyperpigmentation removal plan

"What you use on your skin at home daily is so important if you want to target these pigment-producing cells to transform your skin discoloration," says Murphy. Here are the steps you can take to help get rid of hyperpigmentation.


Exfoliation is necessary for all skin types for a variety of skin concerns including hyperpigmentation. It is a key step in your hyperpigmentation treatment plan as it speeds up cell turnover to remove hyperpigmented cells faster. Exfoliation also removes the upper "crust" of skin so active lightening and brightening products can better penetrate the skin.

"Skin Editor is my absolute favorite exfoliator for hyperpigmentation," shares Teresa Stenzel, licensed esthetician and member of our Esthetics Experts Panel. "This imperfection-editing leave on AHA peel creme uses a blend of glycolic and lactic acid along with kombucha in-fused organic shea butter to rapidly brighten dark damage and instantly improve clarity and color."

target discoloration

Your best and safest bet to targeting hyperpigmentation is to use LightPlex GigaWatt Dark Spot Corrector. It's formulated with a breakthrough brightening blend that brightens only the pigmented areas without lightening the surrounding skin. And - it's hydroquinone-free, making it safer for the skin.

In a consumer perception study, 99% of women thought that LightPlex GigaWatt Dark Spot Corrector helped to correct uneven skin tone, sun damage, and discoloration after just 28 days (2).

"When dealing with hyperpigmentation, I always professionally recommend Bioelements LightPlex GigaWatt Dark Spot Corrector," says Murphy. "It contains Dimethylmethoxy Chromanyl Palmitate, which is a synthetic peptide. It helps to inhibit tyrosinase activity (the enzyme that controls the amount of pigmentation) in overall lightening and brightening of their skin tone, clarity and radiance."

get a 24-hours of vitamin C

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that fights free radical skin damage. Free radicals are unstable molecules (caused by UV, pollution ‐ our own bodies even produce them) that cause oxidative stress and speed up the appearance of lines, sagging and skin hyperpigmentattion. Vitamin C works by binding to these free radicals, to prevent oxidative damage. Apply a 10% vitamin C serum like vc10 daily glow - to brighten, even tone and target the appearance of collagen breakdown. Then at night, brighten up with it's companion 10% vitamin C night cream - vc10 nightly bright. This overnight sensation brightens, hydrates and delivers radiance as it fights photoaging

protect + prevent

At the end of the day, even the best hyperpigmentation products will be useless if you don't protect your skin from UV damage. Prevent hyperpigmentation and protect skin by always wearing a broad spectrum sunscreen, even if you don't plan on going outside. Further protect skin by addressing the underlying issue, whether that's acne, hormones or injury.

head to the spa

Professional treatments are a great way to speed up the effects of your hyperpigmentation treatment products. "Chemical peels really help speed up cell turnover, which reveals the fresh skin underneath the dark spots," says Kania. "It still takes time to fully remove hyperpigmentation, but you should leave with instant results. The Bioelements Depigmenting and Brightening Facial is also an amazing treatment for any discoloration."

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1. Source: Davis, Erica C., and Valerie D. Callender. "Post-inflammatory Hyperpigmentation: A Review of the Epidemiology, Clinical Features, and Treatment Options in Skin of Color." The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology. Matrix Medical Communications, July 2010. Web. 29 Aug. 2016.
2. Source: The Bioelements LightPlex MegaWatt Skin Brightener and LightPlex GigaWatt Dark Spot Corrector consumer perception study was run by The Beauty Company and was a 28-day, market-ready product testing group of 100 women that experienced a range of dark spots, sun damage, age spots, melasma, uneven skin tone, dullness and hyperpigmentation.

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brought to you by the Bioelements Esthetics Experts Panel

2 Responses

Teresa Stenzel
Teresa Stenzel

Hi Cindy,nnFor LightPlex MegaWatt Skin Brightener: Apply evenly to entire face every morning and night. Never skip the SPF – wear a Bioelements broad spectrum sunscreen daily. For LightPlex GigaWatt Dark Spot Corrector: Apply directly to dark spots and gently massage every morning and night. Never skip the SPF – wear a Bioelements broad spectrum sunscreen daily.


So if I were to incorporate these brighteners, where would they fall in my routine? Sequence, frequency?

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