Hyperpigmentation can occur for a number of reasons. Age spots occur as a result of sun and aging. Melasma occurs due to hormones, pregnancy and over exposure to the sun. Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation are dark mark that occur on the skin after the skin has undergone some sort of inflammation or irritation.
Why Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation Happens
Hyperpigmentation is the skin’s natural response to inflammation. When you have a pimple, burn, cut etcetera, it is an inflammation and the skin responds by producing melanin in excess to protect itself. That is why it’s called post inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
A pimple does not have to be popped to leave a dark mark behind. Often times, the dark mark will happen regardless because that’s the skin’s natural response. There’s not much one can do to prevent it. We were told to not touch that acne or pick at that pimple so it doesn’t darken but it still darkens afterall.
Once irritation and/or inflammation is present, the skin stimulates tyrosinase to produce melanin. As tyrosinase produces melanin, they are transferred from the melanocytes to the keratinocytes which then travel from the bottom of the epidermis to the stratum corneum (the topmost layer of the skin). This melanin transfer process results in the deposit of melanocytes (containing melanin) on the epidermis.
This can happen anywhere on the skin including face, arms, legs, back, belly, between the thighs and can get worse with sun exposure. PIH fades with the passage of time and use of sunscreen. The skin sheds and renews between 28-40 days and an improvement can be observed. However, use of some topical products in addition to sunscreen can help fade it faster.
Use of Tyrosinase Inhibitors to Get Rid of Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation
Tyrosinase Inhibitors work by inhibiting the enzyme tyrosinase from producing melanin. This does not only prevent new marks from forming but also treats previous ones. Hydroquinone remains the most effective tyrosinase inhibitor. It is typically available in 2-4% concentrations. Hydroquinone however, has gotten a lot of undeserved bad press in recent years which have made people seek out other alternatives such as:
- Azelaic acid
- Tranexamic acid
- Kojic acid
- Vitamin C
- Licorice root extract.
Melanin Transfer Inhibitors
Pigmentation can also by inhibiting the transfer of melanin. Niacinamide brightens the skin by preventing the transfer of melanin instead of inhibiting production. It performs optimally when layered with other treatments.
Alpha and Beta Hydroxy Acids work by loosening dead skin cells so they can slough off and reveal newer, fresher skin. Use of such exfoliating acids have proven very useful at lifting dark marks.
One can use the most expensive serums and moisturizers but if there is no sunscreen included in your routine, that hyperpigmentation is going nowhere. Sunscreen remains the most important product when it comes to fading hyperpigmentation. A well formulated spf with a rating of 30 or greater should be used daily
and nightly to prevent and treat hyperpigmentation as part of a well-rounded skincare routine.
Morning Routine for hyperpigmentation
While cleansing is an essential part of the routine, the cleanser should be the thing you spend the least money on in a routine. If I finished up the previous night routine with an occlusive or oil, I use a foaming cleanser next morning. If not, I use a gentle hydrating cleanser. I especially love the Cerave hydrating and foaming cleansing duo.
To minimize the steps so as to not end up with a super long routine, I end up combining toning and hydrating into one simple step. A toner is used after cleansing to remove any remaining dirt and to correct and balance the skin’s pH. I use a hydrating toner after cleansing to provide my skin with some extra hydration. I’ve recently run out of my Indie Lee CoQ10 toner which leaves me reaching for Mamonde rose water.
I treat with a serum depending on how my skin feels. I usually go for a Vitamin C serum for brightening and antioxidant benefits. Skinceuticals CE Ferulic may be expensive but I honestly think it’s the best formula in the market.
I finish up with a lightweight moisturizer so as not to clog my pores and end up with some more comedones that turn to hyperpigmentation. On mornings I’m running late, I use a moisturizer with spf like La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair and reapply every 2-3 hours. On the other days I use a lightweight moisturizer like the Mamonde gel cream or Neutrogena hydroboost and finish up with a sunscreen. Supergoop Unseen sunscreen is lightweight enough for my oily skin and doesn’t leave a white cast.
My nighy routine for hyperpigmentation is mostly the same as the morning one except for a few tweaks.
It is very important to double-cleanse at night so as to effectively remove makeup and sunscreen. Double Cleansing is when the skin is first cleansed with an oil to remove oil-based makeup before a second water-based cleanser is used. The DHC oil with its 100% olive oil formula is one of the few that don’t clog my pores.
Then twice to thrice a week I use an exfoliant after toning. I have oily skin so naturally I use Paula’s Choice 2% BHA liquid exfoliant. This formula goes deep to unclog pores and prevent future breakouts.
I finish my routine with my Biossance moisturizer and seal everything up with squalene or rosehip seed oil.
If it looks like there is too much hydration and not enough exfoliation, that is intentional. We often go overboard with exfoliation and spot treatments to get rid of hyperpigmentation and that is counterproductive because those products end up drying up the skin and making it worse than it was initially. A well balanced regimen should have more hydration than exfoliation.
Morning Routine to Get Rid of Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation
Night Routine to Get Rid of Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation