These are the skincare ingredients that you can use to fight hyperpigmentation

Expert advice on fighting hyperpigmentation. File image.

Expert advice on fighting hyperpigmentation. File image.

Published Mar 28, 2024


Scores of women from all walks of life across the globe struggle with hyperpigmentation.

Also known as pigmentation, this is a medical term used to describe darker patches of skin from excess melanin production.

These dark spots on the skin can be caused by acne scars, sun damage and even hormone fluctuations.

This skin condition is so rife that every year, Google searches on “how to even skin tone on face” spike worldwide, particularly during the summer months.

Experts explained that the reason for the connection between hyperpigmentation and warmer months is because dark spots are usually connected with sun exposure, for example sun spots – even though that’s not their only cause.

Skincare brand ISDIN explained that pigmentation occurs when the pigment-producing skin cells, melanocytes, start to overproduce melanin.

“This can lead to the formation of uneven pigmentation or hyperpigmented areas in the skin,” Karlo Mitchell from ISDIN South Africa said.

The skin expert added that the most common trigger for this occurrence is sun exposure and that is why the need to regularly wear sunscreen is recommended.

Experts warn that sun exposure can worsen skin pigmentation. File image.

“When over-exposed to the sun, your skin produces more melanin to try to protect itself from the damaging rays, resulting in a toasty tan or sensitive sunburn,” he said.

“It then makes sense that you might notice more dark spots during the summer months if you’ve been soaking up the rays at the beach or relaxing by the pool.”

Mitchell stressed that the sun is not the only cause of pigmentation.

He added that age, genetics, hormones (such as in pregnancy), free radical damage from pollution or tobacco, or different types of medication can also cause uneven pigmentation.

Mitchell also believes that using the correct ingredients and sticking to a morning and night routine is key to correcting the visible signs of premature skin ageing, including the formation of dark spots and uneven pigmentation.

ISDIN South Africa has listed the following skincare ingredient that can be used to combat hyperpigmentation:

Vitamin C

This ingredient is a lifelong skin care superstar because of its powerful antioxidants that neutralise free radicals from both pollution and UV rays, said Mitchell.

“It’s best for treating dark marks, evening skin tone and brightening the skin.”

Niacinamide + Tranexamic acid

These ingredients are restorative agents that fight skin discolouration and hyperpigmentation, the skin expert explained.

Niacinamide is an all-rounder in skincare for smooth and hydrated skin.”

He added that when combined with tranexamic acid, a synthetic amino acid derived from lysine which specifically targets sun spots, the pigment-correcting effect is more powerful.

Glycolic acid

Mitchell stressed that glycolic acid is one of the best exfoliating ingredients that can be used for the skin and can be a basic in any skincare routine.

“Glycolic acid helps to improve your complexion while making it easier for other products to penetrate the skin,” he said.

“It also helps to even out skin tone and stimulate cell renewal, working to help improve the negative effects of the sun like fine lines and wrinkles.”


Apart from using targeted products to combat discolouration, a high SPF sunscreen is a key player in helping reduce the appearance of dark spots on the skin, Mitchell said.

“Even if your dark spots are connected to genetic or hormonal causes or free-radical pollution damage, they can get darker when exposed to UV radiation.”

He added that sunscreen should be applied as part of a morning skincare routine, as the last step before makeup and 15 minutes before sun exposure.

“Remember to reapply for every two hours of exposure and more frequently if you’re exercising outdoors or enjoying a day at the beach.”

Apart from these hyperpigmentation skincare fighters, Mitchell also recommended visiting a dermatologist to discuss the type of pigmentation disorder you’re experiencing.

“Depending on the type, they may suggest in-clinic treatments, which can include chemical peels, laser treatments, or micro-dermabrasion,” he said.

“The most suitable treatment will vary depending on the appearance of dark spots, and your skin type.”