'I'm a beauty writer and I've found the best products to treat hyperpigmentation on darker skin.'

My skincare journey has been anything but linear. Whenever I finally think I'm close to my dream skin, here comes post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation — those stubborn dark spots that seem to linger no matter what. Despite the trials and errors, today I look into the mirror and can't help but be in awe of the progress I've made. 

From experimenting with risky at-home chemical peels to diving headfirst into active ingredients like glycolic acid, mandelic acid, and lactic acid, I've left almost no stone unturned in my goal for a clearer, more even-toned complexion.

Watch: Here are 7 ways to improve your skin while sleeping. Post continues below.

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For those of us with darker skin tones, fading hyperpigmentation can be quite challenging, requiring targeted treatments and a more nuanced and patient approach. Keyword: patience. 

But don't stress; now armed with the lessons learned from my own battles, I'm here to share with you the ultimate dos and don'ts, along with the products and methods I've found effective in treating hyperpigmentation on darker skin. 

Let’s get into it.


1. Protect.

Now, it sounds like a no-brainer, but sunscreen is the most important step. As a melanated girlie, I spent years believing I didn't need sunscreen. Little did I know that not only is sun protection universal and essential, but every time I went about my day without it, my dark spots would deepen. 

Once I started taking sunscreen seriously, I noticed within a month that my marks were noticeably lighter — not faded, but a shade lighter — just with sunscreen alone.

My quest to find the perfect sunscreen is another story, but if you’re on the path to treating hyperpigmentation, absolutely do not skip sunscreen. It's non-negotiable.

2. Skin barrier focus.

Image: Supplied.


I used to bombard my skin with a bunch of products. From excessive use of liquid exfoliants like AHAs and BHAs to aggressive physical exfoliation, brightening masks, and a barrage of retinol serums — I was relentless. Unfortunately, this approach wreaked havoc on my skin barrier, resulting in exacerbated hyperpigmentation, sensitivity, breakouts, and dehydrated skin

Through trial and error, I've learned that treating hyperpigmentation is much more effective when my skin barrier is healthy. Some of my favourite products that have helped restore my skin barrier's health include TBH’s Rebound Serum, $59.95 and Glow Recipe’s Avocado Ceramide Recovery Serum, $77. Both are rich in ceramides, which act as the building blocks of our skin, reinforcing its protective barrier.

Currently, I'm obsessed with the COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence, $38, and the Korres Greek Yogurt Nourishing Probiotic Gel Cream, $54. Snail mucin in the essence provides intense hydration while aiding in repairing the skin barrier, leaving behind a gorgeous glow. 

Additionally, the probiotics in the Korres moisturiser act as nourishment for my skin barrier, helping it stay resilient. When I incorporate these two products into my hydration and moisture routine, my skin stops being mad at me and feels replenished, happier, and overall healthier.


3. Topical Treatments.

While maintaining skin barrier health is crucial, hydration alone won't minimise hyperpigmentation. That's where topicals come into play — active ingredients like tretinoin and hydroquinone are commonly sought after for fading dark spots, but that’s not my story. Instead, I go for ingredients like AHAs/BHAs, vitamin C and niacinamide, as I find them to be gentler alternatives that don't require a prescription. 

There are three ultimate favourites that consistently deliver results, starting with Alpha Beta® Universal Daily Peel by Dr. Dennis Gross, $36. These peel pads have truly been a game-changer for me. 

Image: Supplied.


I reached a point where I felt like nothing was working for my stubborn hyperpigmentation. However, after consistently using these pads every three days for two months, I noticed significant improvements — my skin appeared brighter and smoother, and my hyperpigmentation was visibly fading before my eyes. 

It became undeniable when I reached a stage where I preferred the natural look of my skin over wearing makeup. If I could recommend only one topical product for hyperpigmentation, it’d be this.

Next up, I use Numbuzin Vitamin-Niacinamide Concentrated Pads, $40 and Vitamin Concentrated Serum, $45.

Image: Supplied.


These two products have quickly become staples in my skincare routine. The double-sided pads, infused with glutathione and niacinamide, provide gentle exfoliation and help improve dark spots, even on active pimples. 

Paired with the serum, containing a blend of powerful ingredients like alpha lipoic acid, vitamin C, and tranexamic acid, they work to fade dark spots and leave skin clearer and brighter. Both are incredibly gentle, and I've seen my complexion brighten and even my older, more stubborn dark spots are fading. 

My skincare routine for treating hyperpigmentation.

Image: Supplied.


At the core of my skincare routine for tackling hyperpigmentation lies the concept of skin cycling, a method involving the use of different active ingredients on alternating days, with designated rest days focused on hydration, moisturisation, and rebalancing. 

Having learned from my past experiences of overdoing it, I've come to appreciate the importance of a slow and steady approach. 

During the day, I keep things simple: cleanser, facial mist, snail mucin serum, moisturiser, and sunscreen. I save a more tailored system for my nighttime routine.

Night one: Exfoliation.

Starting with freshly cleansed skin, I use my Kojic Acid Soap, $8, as a brightening treatment for one minute before proceeding with the Alpha Beta® Universal Daily Peel by Dr. Dennis Gross, $36. Following the exfoliating peel, I apply my COSRX Snail Mucin Power Essence Serum, $38, and Korres Nourishing Probiotic Gel Cream, $54.


Night two: Active serums.

Because I wear makeup during the day, I need a thorough cleanse of my skin before applying active serums. So, after double cleansing, I use a gentler peel pad to tone my skin. My go-to options are the COSRX One Step Original Clear Pad, $39 or Numbuzin Vitamin-Niacinamide Concentrated Pad, $40 — both are brightening and hydrating. 

Post-toner, I rotate between my Numbuzin Vitamin Concentrated Serum, $45, Olay Niacinamide Vitamin C Serum, $45.99, or Cos De Baha Tranexamic Niacinamide & Hyaluronic Acid Serum, $22.50, to improve clarity, radiance and the appearance of dark spots. I finish with my usual moisturiser. 

Night three and four: Recovery.

This phase is my favourite. During recovery days, I allow my skin to rest and rejuvenate. No active ingredients are allowed. Instead, I indulge in ultra-hydrating creams and masks enriched with restorative ingredients like hyaluronic acid, ceramides and probiotics. 

I incorporate a low-key version of skin slugging by using a collagen sleep mask after my moisturiser. I also spritz my skin with the Avène Thermal Spring Water Spray, $14.99, between each step to ensure maximum hydration.

Consistency is key with these products, and I didn't see results until I used them consistently for a few months. Dealing with hyperpigmentation requires patience, with results often taking up to 16 weeks to become noticeable. So trust the process, prioritise sunscreen, and be gentle with your skin barrier. 

Feature image: Supplied.

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