Best Ways to Reduce Hyperpigmentation & Dark Spots: Ingredients, Products & Natural Remedies


Hey guys, welcome back. It’s Felicia and Rowena. Today we’re gonna be here talking about a little skin issue that probably most of us have dealt with and it’s hyperpigmentation. So have you got it? Yeah freckles and PIH. (Fel: PIH) The random pimples that I would get here and there they just turn like dark brown and same for me because I have acne scarring and it’s all over my chin and we’ll roll some b-roll of those brown kind of blotches that are left over After any sort of inflammation or breakouts. but it’s also heavily linked and caused by the Sun and when hyperpigmentation is caused by the Sun it can actually be causing trouble to our DNA and so it gets pretty serious But on a more general level it can occur on any skin type and it’s caused by multiple reasons Because it’s essentially darkening of a specific part of our skin. But do you know how discoloration forms and the layers of the skin? Today we’re going to be taking a deep dive into that by looking at what hyperpigmentation is and how it actually develops in the layers of our skin. The three most common types of hyperpigmentation: PI,E PIH, and melasma. The best ingredients you can find and our favorite product recommendations that help with shedding dead skin cells and brightening those dark spots Then because we know it’s not always about going out and buying products and buying skin care We’re also gonna be sharing with you guys some natural ingredients and DIY tips you can try at home So keep on watching because we’re going to soon find out what happens in our skin when hyperpigmentation forms and it’s not a simple thing So starting with the basics: what is hyperpigmentation? Generally, it’s an umbrella term that’s defined as any condition that leads to a discoloration or a darkening of the skin. Pretty general, right? There are many causes for hyperpigmentation But the most common forms result from excess sun exposure, eczema, psoriasis, and your acne Especially when you decide to pop that pesky little pimple. Then it begs the question How does this discoloration and darkening form? So we’ve covered that melanin is a pigment that gives color to our skin, our eyes, our hair, our nasal cavities, and even the inside of our ears. Yes, bet you guys didn’t normally think about that one. We have lots of immune system cells in our epidermis layer of the skin. Now, zooming into the very bottom of the epidermis layer of the skin also known as the stratum basale lies melanocytes Melanocytes are a group of spidery looking cells which produce a pigment known as melanosomes. The melanosomes contain enzymes that produce melainin. And these are all traveling upward towards the surface of the skin which is why we see darkening by the time it’s at the top of our skin. The cool thing is that no matter how pale or how dark Wherever you lie in between, we all have about the same amount of melanocytes So our particular skin color isn’t about the number of these cells that we have but it’s about how far the cellular extensions known as dendrites extend and reach. and these dendrites are used to transfer the Pigment granules to the neighboring epidermal cells, hence the spread of color. Fun fact: melanocytes have been with us in our embryo stages of life So we most likely started developing color in our skin in just those first three months of existence Wow Now, all around the melanocytes are many other epidermis cells known as keratinocytes. These look like little cushions with a nucleus inside The keratinocyte is in charge of signaling to the melanocytes: “Hey we need melanin!” And then the melanocytes are like, “okay Roger that, sending them over” and that’s their relationship So when the melanosomes transfer the keratinocytes They gather together at the very top of the keratinocyte and form a protective umbrella over the nucleus but the basic role of keratinocytes is to create keratin and fillagrin which are proteins found in the hair and in the skin. And its role is to protect the skin from UV rays by maintaining A healthy skin barrier function. And we talk so much about skin barrier function, right? So this is kind of like zooming into the microscopic particles of what’s actually happening And they also do a pretty bang-up job in preventing water loss and foreign invaders like bacteria, allergens, microbes from entering our skin and body. So on a normal day the melanin umbrella that the melanosomes create over the keratinocytes Absorb the UV rays that enter our skin and immediately protects us from sun damage. Now on a bad day, let’s say we’re outside, frolicking around and the skin gets aggravated by the Sun aka we tan or we get a sunburn When we overexposed ourselves to the Sun the UV rays are able to penetrate deep into the skin and the cells and What this really means is that the keratinocytes are holding more melanin in their cells than usual and the pigment bursting at the seams are showing through Not only that but when the UV rays reach the nucleus of the keratinocytes that middle part that actually stores your DNA, it can get damaged and deformed or even mutated. If we imagine for a second that this is happening to many many keratinocytes meaning many strands of our DNA are mutating and being destroyed. This then is the cause of skin cancer and a melanoma. And now you know how all this works Let’s take a breather. Breathe in, breathe out. Many terms that you’ll probably like Whoooosh Let it sink in. So next let’s take a look at three different types of hyperpigmentation that can occur in our skin because as we might have realized it’s not just all about Sun. First up is post inflammatory hyperpigmentation Just as the name suggests this form of hyperpigmentation is caused by inflammation to the skin So when you’re left with a dark red or brownish mark after popping that pimple, like mine right here What pimple?! There’s a mark Chances are you have PIH And why does this happen though? Well whenever we get an injury, a rash, or blemish, your skin reacts by becoming inflamed. We tend to associate inflammation as a bad thing because honestly what we’re facing looks and feels terrible But we should actually keep in mind that when we get inflammation on the skin It’s our body’s natural way of protecting us from infections, bacteria, viruses So it really is a good thing But just kind of looks bad. And we know a pimple or breakout happens because of inflammation Caused by all the nasties that are trapped in our pores like bacteria, sebum It’s like a cocktail of grossness. Now tying it back to melanocytes underneath the surface of the skin, the inflammation triggers the melanocytes to release excess melanosomes to the keratinocytes Remember that keratinocytes also play a big role in protecting the skin against outside invaders This excess pigment then creates a discoloration around the wound of the inflamed area Which is the pimple, therefore creating a hyperpigmentation. Yaaaaaaaay And the more inflamed your skin is the more obvious Your hyperpigmentation will look on the surface of the skin. And that’s why many times and we’re also guilty of doing this We’re told not to pick at our pimples because the hyperpigmentation Will take longer to fade and the wound won’t be able to Heal as quick and heal as properly. PIH is more common in medium to darker skin tones and the deeper The inflammation is in the skin the longer it will take to fade. Good thing is with the help of certain Ingredients the recovery process can be sped up and we’ll go into this later when we mentioned some products So now moving on to another type which is PIE. PIE! Post inflammatory erythema This form of hyperpigmentation looks very similar to PIH And this is why we can easily get confused between the two But unlike PIH, PIE happens because the inflammation agitates the surrounding capillaries and blood vessels and it’s not due to an excess of production of melanin. So it’s a little bit different The first is like the actual volcano and this one is like the moat around the castle Ro: Ooooooh The cause for PIE is when the skin receives some sort of trauma so things such as acne, cuts and even aggressive exfoliation on the skin can result in PIE. So essentially PIE… I keep thinking of pie So essentially, PIE results when the skin’s capillaries are broken and the skin is trying to heal itself by dilating the blood vessels to increase blood flow because it’s like, “Save me! heal meeee!” That’s why if you see pink or red colored marks on your skin it’s most likely the case that you have PIE. Generally people who have lighter skin tones are more likely to have PIE instead of PIH. So when you pick at your skin or pop that pimple you’re further wounding your skin and causing even more inflammation which then makes it longer for it to heal. In worst cases lead to a permanent sort of scarring on the face So how can I tell whether my hyperpigmentation is PIE or PIH? A quick test is to take a small piece of see-through glass kind of like a Microscope slide or your finger and gently press onto the hyperpigmentation. When the hyperpigmentation turns white when you press down on it, that’s the sign Your hyperpigmentation is PIE due to the vascular wound underneath the skin Now moving on to melasma The telltale sign of melasma is if you have fairly large and spread out blotchy Areas that are brown in color, chances are that it’s not PIH or PIE, but melasma Melasma is another form of hyperpigmentation That is most commonly seen in women. Just another thing to add to our list of potential issues in life Not easy being a girl Not at all You mainly see it in the areas like the cheeks, the bridge of the nose, forehead Chin and upper lip. And I remember Jen Atkin She posted a picture on her Instagram and she said she went swimming one day, came back in, and she had a mustache of melasma. And just like PIH, melasma also occurs due to the excess production of melanin from melanosomes. But what makes it different to PIH and PIE is that melasma is believed to be also caused by things like genetics, UV exposure, and also Hormonal influences in the body. And because it can potentially be caused by hormones This makes melasma much more difficult to treat compared to the other types of acne-related hyperpigmentation Or just like general freckling that we mentioned before. And I think there’s like a dark blotch developing on my nose Fel: *GASP* really? Ro: I don’t think you can see… Melasma is also known as the pregnancy mask because it can show itself in stages of pregnancy when our hormones are going out of whack and going through a rollercoaster ride. So fun times. We assure that’s not what I’m going through right now. Maybe it’s just being in LA and the Sun is very harsh So, how can you treat hyperpigmentation? This is the question you guys came here for! Our skin renews itself every about 28 to 30 days so naturally the skin will shed itself and reveal newest skin which means the dark areas will naturally lighten but if the hyperpigmentation is on the deeper layers of your skin, it will take longer for it to go away completely You’re going to want to look for ingredients that can inhibit melanin production in the skin basically, stop it from producing in the first place Like, “hey friend, calm down. You’re overworking yourself there!” “Calm down girlfriend!” While melanocytes do their job in creating melanosomes, they also create an enzyme called tyrosinase This enzyme contains copper and is essential for activating melanin from inside the melanosome So when you apply a whitening or lightening treatment to help treat your PIH or melasma the product directly targets this melanin overproduction by inhibiting tyrosinase from doing its job. For hyperpigmentation caused by PIE You’re going to want to calm down inflammation to the skin and to prevent aggravating your red marks even further Avoid picking at your skin. But also with toners you want to avoid things like alcohols, but not all alcohols are created equal Yeah you can also avoid Using astringent that can be overly drying on the skin like for me witch hazel is a little bit too stripping like the Thayer’s one it’s made me like RAAASH and this is also the time to stop using highly concentrated or potent ingredients like if you were using any sort of citrus or undiluted tea tree oil and also essential oils because although essential oils can be good They are actually very strong as well. Remember that time I had that huge thing here It was like a blood clot on my face, and then I popped it and I sent her a picture of it and that took me like five months to go away because it was so deep in the skin and it Traumatized so many layers of the skin and it was black for about two weeks (Ro: It was) Yeah to the point where you couldn’t even cover it if you tried. It was just purple and black So that is intense trauma Keep in mind to always wear sunscreen to prevent further damage from sun exposure and worsening hyperpigmentation So now when we’re outside we’re looking for products that hopefully will help us to treat this sort of hyperpigmentation Here are the ingredients you should look for. So the first one is a little controversial But has also got a lot of studies that has shown that it works is hydroquinone. Hydroquinone is considered the gold standard ingredient for brightening dark spots by decreasing melanocytes and thereby melanin production But here’s the catch. Because hydroquinone is so potent it can’t be used long-term and can even cause some unwanted side effects like skin sensitivity and also irritation and it’s also worth noting that hydroquinone is not recommended for pregnant women. And it’s currently banned in European countries due to these concerns So things like vitamin A also not recommended to be used if you’re pregnant and I think Europe is actually much more strict with the ingredients that they have out there But this is not to say you shouldn’t use hydroquinone since it’s pretty effective in lightening dark spots compared to other treatments, especially when combined with using a topical retinoid but the thing is with these you have to be very consistent in using it so you can’t just like use it once or For one week and you’re like it doesn’t work. So I’m gonna stop. Yeah Yeah, because the process of affecting the skin also needs time. If you’re more into the cleaner and gentler type of ingredient, this one probably won’t be your top pick But if you are into something that’s super potent, then we have two products that include it. And the first is the Paula’s Choice Resist Triple Action Dark Spot Eraser And the second is the Murad Rapid Age Spot and Pigment Lightening Serum and I think the percentage of hydroquinone in that one is actually the most They can allow you to get without a prescription. And for the Paula’s Choice I’ve been using it but I haven’t been using it consistently and I think I get impatient and I want results right now But I’m learning. Next ingredient is arbutin. If you use a lot of Asian skin care products Particularly those marketed for lightening or whitening your skin tone you might have come across this ingredient known as arbutin. And it’s an extract derived from the bearberry plant as well as blueberries and also cranberry plants and helps to brighten the skin by interfering with the tyrosinase, which we previously mentioned. By preventing tyrosinase from working its job The production of melanin is slowed down and significantly reduced. Essentially it’s like hydroquinone, but without the potentially nasty side effects for pregnant women. This ingredient is considered a safe alternative to hydroquinone. Yeah, if you have a baby…You want to be safe So some of the product recommendations we have is the Ordinary. They have an alpha arbutin 2% and hyaluronic acid And this one’s super affordable, under ten dollars. And there’s the Obagi clinical vitamin C and arbutin brightening serum. So we actually have this but I haven’t tried it yet. Ro: I haven’t tried it long enough yet either Yeah but the fact that it’s mixed with a vitamin C is Pretty promising as well because vitamin C also really helps in brightening and lightening The next ingredient is kojic acid and this ingredient has been asked by our Beauty fam a lot because it’s recently started to gain a lot of traction So what is kojic acid? It’s a natural alternative to hydroquinone, again, that can lighten up hyperpigmentation on the skin and it’s also antimicrobial. It’s rich in antioxidants. It has anti-inflammatory properties It’s anti aging and can offer some degree of protection against the Sun Kojic acid is produced from fungi and is naturally produced from the fermentation process of foods such as soy, rice, and sake. In many cases kojic acid can show up as fermented soy extract, fermented rice extract, and fermented rice filtrate in the ingredient list But they all mean the same thing So how does this ingredient help brighten the skin? If hydroquinone targets the melanocytes and arbutin targets tyrosinase from within the melanocytes, Then kojic acid aims at the copper from inside the tyrosinase It’s like an inception situation going on in here And kojic acid is generally safe for all skin types Including pregnant women and can be used long-term and you can pair this with things like glycolic acid to get maximum results So AHAs work well together but keep in mind that there’s a potential risk of contact dermatitis and increased chance of sunburns if not properly protected so make sure you apply SPF, my children. And because it’s from fermented soy and fermented rice Naturally, you will see this in SKII, the facial treatment essence which everyone raves about But there’s also super affordable kojic acid soaps from Amazon. Next is azelaic acid (which is) naturally found on everyone’s skin Azelaic acid is especially great for helping those with PIE, melasma, rosacea, and even acne When they discover that your skin has abnormal melanocytes that are producing way too much melanin They target the tyrosinase within these cells and basically tell them to chill out and for all our acne-prone skin fam, including myself Azelaic acid has the ability to kill P. Acnes that are trapped in the hair follicles So you’re pretty much looking at something that can do many things for your skin. Yaaaaay (Fel:Huzzah!) Yeah, I personally love azelaic acid. Some of the product recommendations is Paula’s Choice They have an azelaic acid booster, which is really good because you can add it into a serum or you can add it into your moisturizer at however, you know The quantity that you want and I really think that this helps with the acne scarring And another one is PCA skin pigment gel that is hydroquinone free and it also has kojic acid One of our favorites is the Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA tonic This has potassium azeloyl diglycinate, which is a derivative of the azelaic acid So it’s just much more gentle and not as potent. So if you have sensitive skin, you can also go and use this Yeah, I finished a bottle like maybe last year and that, yeah, those months my skin was “Bing Bing” Fel: Bing Bing! Ro: and speaking of AHAs… AHAs such as mandelic acid, lactic acid, glycolic acid Ah the good old alpha hydroxy acid. If you’ve been following our channel for awhile We’re always talking about chemical exfoliants and how beneficial they are in helping the skin AHAs are naturally derived from things like plant and fruit extracts and can help to lessen hyperpigmentation By helping the skin with the cell turnover process which naturally occurs anyway but it helps to slough off that dead skin and the glue that sticks it together which causes things like breakouts And it encourages new cells to emerge which then creates fresh and bright skin So we’re not going to go into all the AHAs because there are separate videos for that and you guys should check it out Products we recommend with AHAs. The first one is Krave Beauty’s Kale-Lalu-yAHA There’s also the ordinary AHA 30% and BHA 2% which is a peeling solution There’s also the Pixie Glow Tonic Which is glycolic and this is something that we both tried and I think it’s a good starter. A good starter AHA Yeah, if you’re beginning into it because we didn’t really feel anything Normally when we apply these AHAs there’s a little bit of a tingle and then it goes away which is completely normal but this one was just like… and then “What, what’s happening?” Next is a licorice extract. Even though they taste pretty nasty It’s actually really good for hyperpigmentation But before you go about eating licorice to get the benefits You can save your taste buds by topically applying products containing licorice extract instead So how does licorice extract help to lighten hyperpigmentation? Licorice extract basically hinders the production of melanin in our skin and it also contains glabridin and licochalcone, which are antioxidants that help to fight off free radicals and UV sun damage, help to soothe inflamed skin, and also helps to regulate oil production Which is why you’ll see it in a lot of anti acne skin care products. Glabridin is an active ingredient Containing five flavonoids that act to de-pigment or lighten skin while blocking an enzyme that causes damaged skin to darken So if you’re checking the ingredients, keep note that licorice extract might be listed as dipotassium glycyrrhizate So we have one product recommendation with licorice extract and its Skin Inc’s Licorice Serum It’s a pretty common ingredient Yeah You always see it maybe like in the middle somewhere, like Ren. I think the whole acne line and their calming line has licorice extract. If you go onto the site because I’ve been using a bunch of Ren stuff and they have it So then apart from that you’ll have vitamin A, B and C which is Retinols, niacinamide, and vitamin C. These also help with hyperpigmentation Because once again like AHAs, it just helps to shed the skin It helps boost cell renewal. Basically, like turn over your skin cells so new skin shows which means that naturally the hyperpigmentation will fade. And if you’re like What are vitamin A, B, and C? We did a separate series diving deep into A, B, and C It’s kinda like the ABCs of skincare Last ingredient is zinc oxide or… Sunscreen! Because you know by now how the sun’s UV rays can penetrate into your cells Penetrate into DNA and mutate and break it down So that’s how powerful the Sun is regardless of whether you have hyperpigmentation or not It’s super important to protect your skin at all times. If it’s cloudy, if it’s rainy, if it’s sunny, just slap that on your skin Three my favorite sunscreens. The first one is Krave’s Beet the Sun or Beet Shield I love how it applies and it’s just the texture is just so nice (Fel: makes you glow) Yeah makes you so “bing bing”, it’s so nice. And then the La Roche-Posay serum. (Oh, yeah) Chemical Sunscreen Serum I love using that after my moisturizer because I do have very dry skin already So to me, sunscreen in serum form is great. And then the last one will be CosRX. The texture is really nice. It’s very light and fluffy So some natural ingredients that we mentioned that you can try at home because they’re DIY remedies The first is apple cider vinegar and a lot of you actually ask us how to use this So we would recommend that you don’t use a potent straight from the bottle You always want to dilute it with at least 50% water so like the ratio would be 1 to 1 and you can either put this on as a toner and leave it on. It just smells really funky and it takes time to get used to but then you can also do a kind of wash off water. Like a splash on and then wash off, which is actually what my mom did. You just kind of work it into the skin for maybe 3-5 minutes and then you wash it off. Apple cider vinegar contains acetic acid which can help decrease hyperpigmentation Like PIH and melasma and helped to decrease melanin production in the skin Another great ingredient is green tea or matcha So green tea is known for its super high amounts of antioxidants known as EGCG and it’s Anti-inflammatory properties which makes it such a great ingredient for helping with PIE And it’s also said that green tea can help to lighten hyperpigmentation by inhibiting production in the tyrosinase so how to DIY After steeping your tea take the green tea bags and apply them to the pigmented areas of your skin massage them gently until the tea is absorbed into your skin Or make the matcha mask (Ro: honey) Yeah, I think because matcha is so much more potent than green tea because it’s grinded tea leaves So it’s got all that goodness in it Whereas the green tea bags are just the leaves. And also the way it’s grown. It’s harvested, it’s hand-ground It’s pretty magical. Yeah, so if you pair that with honey and a little bit of water you get this flourishing Antioxidant (Ro: yes!) concoction. And the next one is milk! Milk contains lactic acid, which is useful for lightening of dark marks and reducing hyperpigmentation to the skin So what you want to do is heat a bowl of milk The milk should be comfortably warm when you dip your finger in it and at this stage You can also stir in some honey for moisturizing benefits Once it’s heated take a washcloth and soak it into the milk, wring out the extra milk So it’s fully saturated without dripping. On clean skin, gently massage the milk into your skin And then once the washcloth is dry, dip it back into the pot, bring it out again, do it again It’s kind of like multi toner-ing. (Fel: Seven layers of toner!) Yeah, I was like “toner-ing”, ok Yeah, so do you basically do that until the pot of milk is gone and then once it’s dry on your face, just rinse it off Once again, just keep in mind everyone’s skin is different. It won’t work the same way It might work really well for some people, it might not change anything for others. So just keep that in mind But I mean I think at the very least milk is something that’s very easily accessible compared to these skincare serums that could be upwards of $50 to $100 $3 toner! Yeah And that is how you deal with hyperpigmentation! So there are a lot of different ingredients and products out there that can Really help with fading dark spots, fading acne marks, fading things like melasma But I think just keep in mind that it takes time It’s not gonna be an overnight process because the cell renewal is such an intricate process as you probably know now. “Patience, young grasshoppers” what I need to tell myself all the time But then it just pushes you to take more preventative measures (Ro: It does) so that it doesn’t form in the first place. And on top of sunscreen I think it actually does help a lot to wear a hat or to physically protect yourself (Yeah) or to walk in the shade rather than under the Sun. I think that’s also a cultural thing I mean Western society. I think Sun is fun. (It’s a good thing) Yeah, but it’s just these little repercussions that we realize later on. It’s like wow! So yeah, it’s a balance of everything But if you guys have any questions leave it in the comment section below and that’s it for this video! We’ll see you soon! Bye!