As amusing (i.e. regrettable) as those “Oops, I forgot to put on sunscreen!” the beach days of your youth (we’re all older and wiser now and apply SPF daily, obviously) may have been, you can now deal with resultant sun spots and discoloration, otherwise known as name hyperpigmentation.
What is hyperpigmentation exactly? “Hyperpigmentation is increased pigmentation, also known as melanin, in the skin, usually as a result of sun exposure, trauma, or inflammation,” says Dr. Cheri N. Frey , board-certified dermatologist and assistant professor and program director at Howard University. Department of Dermatology. While sun exposure may be the biggest culprit of hyperpigmentation, it’s not the only one. “Hyperpigmentation can also be linked to genetic factors, medical conditions such as diabetes, or medications,” says Dr. Frey.
You don’t have to live with these stains forever, if you don’t want to. There are dermatologist-approved products on the market that will tackle hyperpigmentation, diminish the appearance of dark spots, improve luminosity, and even prevent new spots from forming. Remember: Sunscreen is your skin’s best friend, especially when using hyperpigmentation treatment, and if your spots don’t improve within six to 12 weeks of regular medication use over-the-counter, you may want to consult a dermatologist.
Instead of crossing your fingers and spending big bucks on just any hyperpigmentation serum—often they don’t come cheap—read five Dr. Frey-approved products below.
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Naturium Topical Tranexamic Acid 5% — $20.00
“Tranexamic acid has become a new workhorse for discoloration,” says Dr. Frey. Good news for you: this topical serum contains the highest percentage of tranexamic acid available over-the-counter and is priced affordably (as far as hyperpigmentation products go). “It also contains niacinamide and licorice, two natural ingredients also known to improve dark spots,” adds Dr. Frey. Apply an even layer to your face, neck and décolletage to brighten and even out your skin tone from head to chest.
SkinCeuticals Fade Defense — $98.00
Dr. Frey raves about SkinCeuticals’ thorough approach to product development, including this anti-discoloration serum, one of his go-tos. “SkinCeuticals always goes the extra mile to ensure its products have undergone rigorous testing,” she says. “As with most dark spot serums, Discoloration Defense relies on a synergistic blend of ingredients to even out skin tone,” she says, but this formula is free from all questionable ingredients, like parabens and silicone.
SkinMedica Lytera 2.0 Pigment Correcting Serum — $154.00
This product is certainly a financial investment, but it is also a long-term investment for your skin. “This is a clinically proven formula that combines 10 different pigment blend ingredients, including tranexamic acid, in a non-drying, non-irritating formula,” says Dr. Frey. Rest assured, it’s been tested on multiple skin tones and types, so everyone can have even skin. A serum that corrects hyperpigmentation while preventing the appearance of new spots? Have been sold.
Glytone Enhance Brightening Serum — $74.00
According to Dr. Frey, this brightening serum is like a lightweight toner, ideal for oily or combination skin, especially those prone to pimples here or there (or everywhere). “These natural acids fight acne while improving dark spots,” she says. Bonus: It moisturizes and firms the skin too. Four birds, one stone.
Paula’s Choice Fade Repair Serum — $48.00
“Another option for acne-prone patients,” says Dr. Frey. This serum has been tested and approved for all skin types: normal, dry, combination and oily. “In addition to fighting dark spots with tranexamic acid, this serum contains bakuchiol, an alternative to retinol, an exfoliant that removes dead skin cells.” Not only does it fight existing dark spots, but it also prevents new discolorations.
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