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4 Tips for Treating Hyperpigmentation on Black Skin

While hyperpigmentation may not be as prevalent as other skin conditions like acne (the most common skin condition in the US), it's still pervasive. Hyperpigmentation can affect anyone regardless of gender, age, or ethnicity, but studies suggest that hyperpigmentation on black skin is more common. Read on to explore what makes dark spots on dark skin more common and how to treat this condition.


What Is Hyperpigmentation?

Hyperpigmentation is a widespread condition that appears when excess melanin—the brownish pigment responsible for giving your skin, hair, and eyes their color—forms deposits in your skin, resulting in darker patches than your natural skin color. These marks can appear on your face or body and range in size and hue, from black or brown to pink or red. There are three main types of hyperpigmentation: melasma (caused by hormones), sunspots (caused by excessive sun exposure), and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (caused by injured skin).


Why Dark Spots on Dark Skin Are Common

Everyone has about the same number of melanocytes, the cells responsible for producing melanin. However, the number and size of melanosomes, or melanin carriers, can vary, which is why humankind has so many diverse and beautiful skin tones.


Black Skin Has More Melanosomes

Individuals with black and brown skin tones have more melanosomes than those with lighter skin tones, providing greater protection from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. Research suggests black skin has a sun protection factor of 13.4, nearly four times higher than fair skin.

While this increased protection is an advantage, it also comes with challenges. When melanocytes are triggered by excessive sun exposure, hyperpigmentation is more prominent and can take longer to treat. Research also reveals that hyperpigmentation is more frequent and severe in those with black skin because they're less likely to use sun protection.


Black Skin Is Prone to Post-Inflammatory Pigmentation

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation forms when the skin becomes injured (like acne scarring or a burn) or irritated from using the wrong skin care products. While any skin tone can experience this condition, it's ubiquitous in black and brown skin—approximately 65 percent of African Americans exhibit symptoms.


4 Tips to Treat Hyperpigmentation on Black Skin

Hyperpigmentation on black skin is among the top five most commonly diagnosed skin conditions. Here are some of the most effective treatment options to help restore a more even and radiant skin tone.


Tip 1: Wear Sunscreen

It's a common misconception that those with darker skin don't need to wear sunscreen because their skin contains more melanin. While it's true that this essential pigment helps protect your skin from damaging UV rays, it's not enough to protect it from sunburn, skin cancer, and hyperpigmentation.

Excessive sun exposure disrupts melanogenesis, the production of melanin pigments, leading to hyperpigmentation. Sunscreen helps prevent overstimulating melanocytes while protecting against environmental assault.

Prevention is critical, so reach for a sunscreen that won't leave behind a chalky white residue on darker skin tones. If your skin already shows signs of hyperpigmentation, sun protection can prevent these patches from getting darker.


Tip 2: Adopt an Effective Skin Care Routine

When shopping for skin care products, look for ingredients like Retinoids, Kojic Acid, Niacinamide, Mandelic Acid, Vitamin C, alpha-hydroxy acids, Azelaic Acid, and Arbutin. Take the guesswork out of crafting a results-driven routine by shopping PCA SKIN discoloration/hyperpigmentation collection. A few essential products include:

  • PCA SKIN Sheer Tint Broad Spectrum SPF 45: This sunscreen is the ultimate weapon against hyperpigmentation, including worsening dark patches.
  • PCA SKIN Pigment Bar®: This cleansing bar for the face and body is formulated with dark spot-fighting ingredients like Kojic Acid, Niacinamide, and Azelaic Acid to help promote an even, clear, and radiant skin tone.
  • PCA SKIN Pigment Gel Pro: This advanced, dermatologically tested corrective helps fade the size and intensity of dark spots while helping protect against the appearance of new ones with its industry-leading, hydroquinone-free formula.
  • PCA SKIN Intensive Brightening Treatment 0.5% Pure Retinol: This treatment delivers stable Retinol, Niacinamide, and Resveratrol deeper into the skin (thanks to a patented Omnisome delivery system) to help treat stubborn discoloration.


Tip 3: Use Laser Treatments

One of the best laser treatments for dark spots on dark skin is intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy. A heated laser gradually kills off pigmented cells, which eventually causes brown spots and patches to vanish. This typically requires at least three treatments.


Tip 4: Try a Professional Chemical Peel

Since black skin is prone to post-inflammatory pigmentation, gentler, superficial peels are best. Alpha-hydroxy, beta-hydroxy, and Jessner peels fall into this category. They still offer results but have minimal risk. The PCA SKIN Pigment Correct Peel is a professional peel that works to correct all types of visible hyperpigmentation on all Fitzpatricks when used in combination with SPF.


Starting Your Skin Transformation

Treating hyperpigmentation on black skin can be challenging, but it's not impossible. If you're unsure how to tackle your dark spots, contact a PCA SKIN Certified Professional near you to explore your options and begin your journey toward your best skin.


Rebecca Taras
A Chicagoland native, Rebecca began her career catering to celebrity clientele as a licensed esthetician at the Peninsula Chicago Hotel. Her passion for skin care ingredients, formulations, and skin histology led her to create custom in-room skin, bath, and body amenities for the Sofitel Hotel Chicago. The Chicago Fashion Foundation recognized her efforts with the Style Maker, Rule Breaker award in the Beauty category. She later went on to co-found Terminal Getaway airport spas. Rebecca’s experience also includes serving as an editor for digital outlets such as Refinery29, PopSugar, Forbes Travel Guides, and Bustle. She continues to refine her skin care knowledge while spending time traveling the world with her husband.