Hyperpigmentation is the occurrence of brown spots on the skin caused by sun
damage and aging, as well as hormonal coloration. Acne can also leave
hyperpigmentation. There is no instant treatment, since the majority of sun
damage is said to have been done by age 18, so our brown spots have had a long
time to develop and surface. Getting rid of them depends largely on how deep
they are. If they are in the dermis (are deep in the skin) , then nothing will
touch them except maybe laser resurfacing. If they are in the epidermis, then
treatment is much more promising. Most pigmentation is a combination, so using
these products should at least lighten the spots. If the pigmentation is recent,
it is more likely to fade well.
Exfoliants like glycolic acid help by taking off skin layers and encouraging
the rapid turnover of cells. Hydroquinones are bleaching agents which do the job
but they produce an allergic response in some people. Kojic acid is now being
widely used, apparently without significant complications. Some fading products
combine these to good effect.
Topical vitamin A appears to regulate the melanocytes, which produce the
pigment. This is why dermatologists prescribe retinoids (Retin-A) for
hyperpigmentation. Topical vitamin A is an important part of a fading program,
not to mention its other benefits.
Use of topical vitamin C also usually results in a more even pigmentation,
along with its stimulation of collagen production and anti-oxidant
These are pharmaceutical products. Fading can be done "naturally" with
botanicals, but this is slower and more expensive, and it won't have such
Mainly, wear an effective sunscreen all the time you are using these fading
agents, as they make your skin even more susceptible to sun damage.
Hyperpigmentation is not something that can be cured - just controlled.
Jan Marini's "Lightening Gel" (formerly "Eventone")is the most elegant and
pleasing (Kojic and Glycolic - and a touch of hydroquinone); MD Formulations'
Skin Bleaching Gel goes with the more conventional 2% hydroquinone. Both can be
used for putting just on the spots, but to get an even complexion, they should
be used on the whole face. All require the use of sun protection forever.
For discussion of topical vitamins A & C, see
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