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By Cynthia Bailey MD. This page was updated on Sun, Sep 15, 2019

When you have a problem with hyperpigmentation on your face, it means that you have excess and unwanted pigment.

This is pigment that is present in your skin beyond what is normal for your natural skin complexion. This can happen for many reasons.

What are the most common reasons for an excessive amount of facial pigment?

  1. Healed skin injuries, including pimples, rashes, and wounds (called post inflammatory hyperpigmentation). Here, melanin and sometimes iron from red blood cells are left behind in skin to cause brown discoloration.
  2. Melasma (hyperpigmentation that can be in both of the top two living cell layers called the epidermis and the dermis). Melasma is also erroneously called “the mask of pregnancy” because your personal hormone levels may play a role in causing this skin problem.
  3. Age spots. Most of the brown color of age spots is due to excessive sun exposure over the years. These are also erroneously called “liver spots” the liver has nothing to do with them.
  4. Dead cell build-up. Thickened and excessive dead skin cells can hold melanin pigment to create increased brown skin color. This is easy to fix, as simple exfoliation can remove the brown color.

What are the best skin care products that dermatologists use to treat facial hyperpigmentation problems?

Because melanin pigment production is stimulated by UV sun exposure, the most important treatment for all facial hyperpigmentation problems is sun protection.

Exfoliation of the dead cell layer that holds pigment will lighten hyperpigmentation, often quite quickly.

Use of products that also loosen the 'glue' that holds skin cells together will help enhance exfoliation. These ingredients are called keratolytics and they include glycolic acid, salicylic acid, and retinoids (prescription tretinoin and non-prescription retinol).

There are also ingredients in skin care products that can help to even skin color by turning down the production rate of melanin. These ingredients include the retinoids mentioned above and vitamin C, hydroquinone, and some botanicals like kojic acid.

Get the best results when you create  my Dr. Bailey Complete Skin Care Routine using these types of products for the best results. The essential steps of my Dr. Bailey Complete Skin Care Routine include:

  1. Cleanse
  2. Correct
  3. Hydrate
  4. Protect

How does a dermatololgist use skin care products to treat facial hyperpigmentation?

  1. CLEANSE with cleansers that exfoliate like Bamboo and Clay Thermal Exfoliating Scrub, and/or use an Exfoliating Sponge with your favorite cleanser. Cleansers with glycolic acid and salicylic acid are excellent choices, such as my Foaming Acne Treatment Cleanser or Triple Action Exfoliating Scrub, especially if your hyperpigmentation is from acne lesions. 
  2. CORRECT by both removing existing pigment and turning down pigment production using my Pigment Fading Pads, Retinol Night Cream, Glycolic Acid Face Cream, or Vitamin C Serum.
  3. HYDRATE with moisturizers matched to your skin type.
  4. PROTECT with only the best broad spectrum zinc oxide sun protection. Match the product to your skin type so that you love your sunscreen and use it 365 days a year.

A skin care routine like this is powerful! I've put it all together for you in my Ultimate Pigment and Sun Damage Repair Kit.  Why 'sun damage' too?? Because these products are highly effective at treating both skin pigment problems and reducing the signs of skin aging. These products also help get rid of acne too. It's brilliant, powerful and professional skin care that gets results you want.