One of my most highly requested videos to make was a “how to get rid of hyperpigmentation” video. I’ve personally dealt with acne and hyperpigmentation for YEARS, and it’s finally now going away in my twenties. Annoying, but at least they’re gone. I know the type of negative impact that they can have on your self-esteem and confidence. So today I’m going to share with you how I got rid of my post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
Let me start off this post with a disclaimer – I am not a skincare professional. I am not a dermatologist, esthetician, or chemist. I AM, however, a person interested in skincare. I am just relaying information that I’ve learned from scientific journals, articles, and other sources BY professionals actually qualified to give this type of information haha. I highly encourage you to do your own research and/or consult with professionals on your own time to find out what truly would work best for your skin. Everyone’s skin is different and will not react the same products or ingredients!
WHY I DON’T DO DIY SKINCARE + THE “NATURAL” FALLACY
There is no such thing as “chemical-free”. Everything in the universe is a chemical or made up of multiple chemicals because everything in the universe is made up of matter. I’m made up of chemicals, you’re made of chemicals, WATER is a combination of CHEMICALS (hydrogen and oxygen). Yes, naturally-sourced chemicals can be far more beneficial than synthetic chemicals. But to assume that a product is good for your skin because it is NATURAL, is simply not true. To believe that you cannot be harmed or negatively affected by something because it is natural, is simply not true. Just because something is natural, does not mean that it is good for you i.e. poison ivy, pure oxygen, mercury, bacterial infections, arsenic, unripe papayas (esp if you’re pregnant), cassava (can produce deadly amounts of cyanide when not prepared correctly) etc.
Coconut oil, a very popular ~DIY moisturizer~ is actually extremely comedogenic meaning that it is a pore-clogging ingredient. I once used coconut oil as a moisturizer for about 4 months and my body broke out in CYSTIC ACNE. The huge acne/pimples that hurt to the touch. It then left horrible hyperpigmentation. Then I used a shampoo & conditioner that contained coconut derivatives thinking that “oh it’s natural so it must work well” and it actually caused huge buildup in my hair and broke out my face and body AGAIN. The ‘before’ photo in this post is a result of using coconut oil in hair & skincare products. Another time I diluted tea tree oil with argan oil to help cure acne. I woke up the next morning with BURNT skin. It literally burnt my skin and I only used it on one pimple. Back in March I was scrolling through Twitter and a girl got a tiny burn. She said she saw a ~natural~ remedy for burns which entailed using garlic on your burns to cure it. This is what happened:
I had garlic on a tinyyyyy ailment on my arm for ONE HOUR and I’m scarred for life. pic.twitter.com/aurNAxiZqK
— Harleigh ? (@TheHarlsz) April 14, 2016
Sure, not every skincare product is going to be the best as the FDA is constantly recalling products. However, I’d rather use products that were SPECIFICALLY formulated to go on the SKIN for the intent of skincare, as opposed to using ~natural~ elements that evolved for other uses. I’m sure there will be tons of people disagreeing with me, but let’s just agree to disagree 🙂 If you want to DIY skincare, then by all means. Do it. But it’s just not for me.
WHAT IS HYPERPIGMENTATION
Hyperpigmentation occurs when something causes an overproduction of melanin in the skin. Which then causes discoloration and unneven skintone. There are different types of hyperpigmentation, however the hyperpigmentation that occurs after an acne wound has healed, is called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH). People of color are a lot more susceptible to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, however it can affect anyone of any race, ethnicity, or skin tone!
HOW TO GET RID OF HYPERPIGMENTATION
Here are some treatments that can help get rid of hyperpigmentation:
TREATMENT #1: ABSOLUTELY NOTHING
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation will disappear on it’s own without the use of an external treatment. However, depending on your skin tone or how severe the acne wound was, this could take anywhere from three to twenty-four months. It can literally take years for PIH to go away on it’s own! There are much more efficient treatments, however I just wanted to point out that PIH is not permanent.
TREATMENT #2: SUNSCREEN
Every time you walk out of your house, you are just making your problems worse. The sun already causes your skin to darken/tan when it absorbs UV rays. The darkening of skin is meant to protect your skin from burning. When your skin darkens, so does your hyperpigmentation. So getting a good sunscreen will help prevent your hyperpigmentation and dark spots from worsening. Though, you should be using a sunscreen regardless. No matter what skin tone you are, you should apply sunscreen to protect against skin cancer and sun damage. I find that Asian sunscreens work the best, especially if you have pale skin. They even have their own system to measure SPF, called Protection Grade of UVA.
TREATMENT #3: PHYSICAL EXFOLIATION
Hyperpigmentation doesn’t just ~melt away~. It doesn’t just disappear. It needs to be brought to the surface and replaced with fresh new skin cells. Physical exfoliation can help accomplish that. Examples of physical exfoliators are physical scrubs, sugar scrubs, facial brushes, Clarisonic, etc. I personally used to use the Clarisonic when I wasn’t breaking out and loved the results. Now I use another method of exfoliation. Physical scrubbing can cause your skin problems to worsen. It can irritate your acne, cause it to multiply, and BAM you have twice the dark spot potential. That’s why many people prefer another type of exfoliation – chemical exfoliation.
TREATMENT #4: CHEMICAL EXFOLIATION
Some skincare products contain certain acids to lightly exfoliate the skin. They are found in much lower percentages than chemical peels so that you can exfoliate more frequently. Most people chemically exfoliate two to three times per week. There are two types of chemical exfoliators. AHA’s: alpha-hydroxy acids and BHA’s: – beta-hydroxy acids. Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA) can treat hyperpigmentation and sun damage. Here are some AHA ingredients that you should be looking for in your skincare products: glycolic acid, lactic acid, citric acid, and ascorbic acid (vitamin c). Keep in mind that chemical exfoliation does make your skin more sensitive to the sun so make sure you’re wearing sunscreen! SPF 30 or higher!
TREATMENT #5: TRETINOIN
Tretinoin is a retinoid, which is a vitamin-a derivative. Tretinoin increases cell turnover and stimulates collagen production. So it is most commonly used to treat acne, diminish fine lines & wrinkles, treat sun damage, and fade hyperpigmentation. Retinoids can be found in some over-the-counter products in lower percentages. However, studies have shown that higher percentages (relative to your skin) can work more efficiently to help your skin concerns. Not everyone’s skin can handle high percentages of retinols so keep that in mind when looking for skincare products! If you’re not familiar with retinols, you’ve probably heard of Retin-A. It is the most commonly prescribed retinol product.
TREATMENT #6: HYDROQUINONE
Hydroquinone is a very controversial ingredient, for many reasons. It is a TOPICAL ingredient that is used to lighten hyperpigmentation. Topical, meaning you should only use it on spots or areas where it is needed. Hydroquinone inhibits melanin production, targets areas where excessive melanin exists, and break it apart to lighten the spots. There are many side effects to hydroquinone and it is usually only recommended as a last resort if nothing else works. With all the side effects in mind, I decided to try it out anyway. My doctor prescribed me a cream that contained 1% tretinoin and 8% hydroquinone to clear my acne and say adios to my dark spots. Before he gave it to me, I had to sign a waiver recognizing the possible side effects. I literally had to sign a waive. LOL. I was a little skeptical but I had so much left-over hyperpigmentation on my neck/chest/back from ugly breakouts that I just wanted to go away. Chemical exfoliation got rid of some dark spots on my face, but it didn’t do much for my neck or body.
A lot of people watched my last storytime video and kept commenting on how good my skin looked. And I agree – my skin’s texture has never felt this smooth. My skin color has never been this even. After 5 weeks of using this prescribed cream, my skin has never looked or felt better. If you were ever wondering my secret weapon, it’s this.
Though, I do need to go back to my dermatologist for a check-up because you’re not supposed to use hydroquinone for long periods of time. I think he’ll give me some tretinoin concoction without the hydroquinone, but I’ll have to go in to find out!
Of course, there are other treatments available like laser treatments and chemical peels, but they can be very dangerous and pretty pricey. These are just treatments that have worked for me or commonly work for others. I highly encourage you conduct your own research and/or visit multiple skin professionals (if can afford it, of course) to see what would work best for your skin. For every product that I listed in the post, I tried to list the smallest/cheapest sizes so that you can really try them out to see if they work before you purchase the big size!
Have you gotten rid of your hyperpigmentation? What worked and didn’t work for you?