What is Hyperpigmentation? 9 Causes & The Best Natural Products to Help
by Organically Becca Wednesday, September 05
Hyper-what?! As the summer is winding down, maybe you’re basking in your sun-kissed glowy skin. Or maybe you’re noticing a few more spots that weren’t there before! It’s likely hyperpigmentation, which is a common skin condition that affects millions of Americans, especially women. Let’s take a deeper look at what it is, what causes it, and how you can prevent and treat it!
What is Hyperpigmentation?
According to Dr. Axe, hyperpigmentation is the production of excess melanin, which causes dark spots on the skin. Melanin’s main purpose is to protect your skin from UV rays. The term covers multiple skin discoloration conditions like melasma, dark spots, freckles, sun spots, and scars.
Causes of Hyperpigmentation
There are actually a few different causes of hyperpigmentation, and they aren’t just external!
Excessive Sun Exposure: This is a big one! Not only do you get a tan from being in the sun, but your skin produces melanin to protect your skin. Often times the sun exposure mixed with other factors is what creates hyperpigmentation, which we’ll get to in a second.
Skin “Trauma” + Inflammation: When your skin is hurt or experiences “trauma,” it needs time to heal. This could include a pimple, scab, eczema, chemical peel, microneedling, or other invasive skincare treatments. Sun exposure can actually make the trauma worse or darker (i.e. scarring from acne).
Exfoliating or Chemical Treatments in the Morning: When you exfoliate away the top layer of dead skin cells, you are also removing a natural protective barrier that shields your skin from the sun and environment. Manual exfoliation does this (like a scrub), and other treatments like chemical peels might leave your skin more photosensitive.
Citrus Oils + Acids in Skincare: Have you ever used lemon juice in the sun to lighten your hair? Yeah, think of what it does to your skin! Citrus acids like lemon, lime, and orange are pretty common in skincare products. But use them with caution in the daytime or in the sun because they react and can cause pigmentation or slight burns. This also applies to acids like salicylic, glycolic, lactic, and vitamin C.
Medications That Cause Photosensitivity: Back in high school, my dermatologist prescribed me an acne medication Retin A. I remember the label saying to avoid sun exposure when using the medication! Certain medications actually make your skin more sensitive and photosensitive. Another common one is Benzoyl Peroxide. Certain medications that are taken internally can cause skin photosensitivity too.
Environment + Air Pollution: A 2016 study that was done with women in China and Germany actually linked air pollution gases with pigmentation and dark skin spots. This is why it’s super important to use skincare high in antioxidants if you live in a city or populated area!
Hormonal Imbalances or Changes: Have you ever heard of a “pregnancy mask?” It happens to some women while they are pregnant. Essentially the change and influx of hormones causes a pigmentation “mask” on their face (melasma). This also can happen with birth control pills. Since women experience more hormonal fluctuations, they are more susceptible to hyperpigmentation and melasma.
Synthetic Fragrance + Perfume: This is one you wouldn’t normally think of! Certain chemicals can actually cause the production of excess melanin. Synthetic fragrance is a big one because the term fragrance can contain such a large combination of chemicals and are hormone disruptors. A lot of people spray perfume on their neck or chest which is a common area for pigmentation!
General Body Inflammation: Yes, an inflammatory diet (usually sugary, processed foods) can cause skin pigmentation! Eating healthy foods and supplements rich in antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, evening primrose oil, and vitamins A, C, E, B3, and B5 are amazing for skin health.
How to Treat Hyperpigmentation Naturally
Thankfully, there are some products that The Choosy Chick carries that are great for targeting hyperpigmentation! Here are some key natural ingredients that help:
Pracaxi Oil: A unique ingredient from the Amazon, it helps heal hyperpigmentation and scarring. Found in:
Rosehip Oil: Also known as nature's retinol! Check out this blog post for more info about this powerful ingredient which has a high vitamin A content. Found in:
Prickly Pear Seed Oil: Read this blog post for all the amazing benefits of this ingredient! Found in:
Other: The Kimberly Sayer Lightening & Brightening Serum contains Atlantic Algae to fight free radicals, Seaweed Extract from the Arctic Circle, Wheat Extract and California Bearberry Leaf to inhibit melanin production. It also has Egyptian Neroli Oil, olive, blue tansy, and lemon extracts that brighten and lighten the skin naturally.
Written by: Organically Becca
Becca is a blogger, wife, and dog mom from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She’s on a mission to get the word out about chemicals found in our everyday items like makeup, food, and personal care products. She provides education on ways you can live a more holistic life and easy swaps you can make in your routine to naturally safer products. Check out Becca’s blog organicallybecca.com and catch her on Instagram @organicallybecca.