There are two types of people in summer. Some try to get as much sun as possible, while others try to jump through hoops to avoid it. You know them, you love them, and you can smell their sunscreen from a mile away. Bring a soft hat, parasol and SPF 50. The sun provides vitamin D and serotonin, but sun exposure also means exposure to UV rays, free radicals, and powerful pollutants. A high price to pay for happy hormones and sunburn. As we spend more time outdoors in the summer, the risk of sunburn increases. Also, people who are prone to post-acne scars and blemishes often find their pigmentation worsened with more sun exposure in the summer.
Hyperpigmentation is excessive melanin production that occurs when the skin is trying to heal acne scars. These blemishes fade over time, but excessive sun exposure can further irritate them. This is bad news for people with darker skin, who naturally produce more melanin. If you’ve noticed even more heavy pigmentation in the summer, you know why. next step? Learn how to cure it.
Featured image from interview with Lottie Brown by Michelle Nash.
Summer Hyperpigmentation: What You Need to Know
Many of us are troubled when pigmentation occurs in the summer. A typical solution for hyperpigmentation, which we rely on all year round, can make our skin more sensitive to the sun. Exfoliating? Retinol? Is it a clinical treatment such as microneedle or chemical peel? They all come with warnings to limit sun exposure. But is it really possible in the summer?
For answers, I turned to Taylor Bagby, RN, Aesthetic Nurse Specialist at SkinSpirit. “You don’t necessarily have to do more skincare, but it’s important to keep doing it diligently,” says Bagby. “Moisturization is key as summer can be dry from the heat and the effects of the sun. Sunscreen is also a must.
Read on for her tips for dealing with summer hyperpigmentation and the products you should have in your beach bag to enjoy the sunshine without sacrificing skin health. (Hint: the answer might be SPF 50.)
Best Ingredients for Treating Hyperpigmentation
Ingredients that are great at fighting, especially correcting and preventing hyperpigmentation include:
- Tranexamic acid
- kojic acid
- azelaic acid
Proper usage and application are important. You don’t need all of the above ingredients to treat hyperpigmentation. Vitamin C and retinol are also important factors in hyperpigmentation. Vitamin C is a great antioxidant and is very important to incorporate into your skincare routine after washing your face to prevent exposure to free radicals that can cause premature aging of the skin over time and cause hyperpigmentation. important to Retinol is important for cell turnover and collagen production, leading to improved skin tone and texture and increased collagen production.
What not to do to treat hyperpigmentation in the summer
For hyperpigmentation, it is important not to use too high a percentage of retinol. It can irritate the skin, which can cause further pigmentation.
Don’t forget to wear sunscreen, especially in summer. Sun exposure can activate melanocytes, which produce melanin, also called pigment, and increase hyperpigmentation.
Avoid excessive exfoliation as it can lead to irritation and damage to the skin’s protective barrier. That irritation or damage can result in further pigmentation. Exfoliating is important, but it should be done in moderation.
The Best Editors’ Approved Products for Treating Summer Hyperpigmentation
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Talking to Bagby has helped me step up my routine and use my favorite blemish remover products consistently. After years of dealing with blemishes, I have learned to accept hyperpigmentation as part of my life. Lavian’s acne scars if possible. However, I still keep a few of my favorite serums on hand to help clear blemishes as quickly as possible when they appear. Here are some of my favorites and some of the ingredients that make them top-notch value.
Specially formulated to lighten, rather than lighten, melanin-rich skin tones, EADEM’s products have become renowned for their transformative effect on dark spots. In fact, this serum claims to brighten the skin and even out discoloration. With its milky texture and active ingredient list, it is one of the products I would recommend to my friends.
(PS: We interviewed the co-founder of EADEM. Marie Quadio Maouzame learns all her beauty and self-care secrets. Her morning routine, as you can imagine, is more than inspiring for her. )
main ingredient: Ascorbic acid, niacinamide, licorice root
Some products are too harsh for daily use, especially if they contain active ingredients that help fight blemishes. But this Indie Lee Brightening Cleanser has been in my rotation for years. The gentle exfoliating formula leaves your face looking instantly revitalized without irritating your skin’s barrier. In addition, the rich whitening ingredients helped my pigmentation in the long run. It also smells incredible. I wouldn’t feel the same in the morning without the very light strawberry scent.
main ingredient: Strawberry seed oil, wheat protein, tomato extract, lycopene
Vitamin C is known for its ability to fight blemishes, but it often needs to be fortified with other ingredients to work on hyperpigmentation, especially on melanin-rich skin tones. This intensive whitening serum doesn’t just polish dullness like the others. Enriched with ingredients that target and inhibit excessive melanin production, exfoliants gently remove dead skin cells. The result is a cult-favorite serum that fades stubborn blackheads and leaves skin looking more radiant.
main ingredient: Vitamin C, licorice, kojic acid, turmeric, salicylic acid
“For hyperpigmentation-focused products, I’m a big fan of SkinCeuticals’ Discoloration Defense,” Bagby says. He loves this serum, which “corrects skin tone and prevents hyperpigmentation.”
Main Ingredients: tranexamic acid, kojic acid, niacinamide
Skinceutical duck! Good Molecules Serum is affordable and highly effective. This serum penetrates deep into the skin to remove stubborn scars and target uneven skin tone.
Main Ingredients: tranexamic acid, niacinamide
“People with pigmentation should avoid dry skin, so moisturizers and staying hydrated are important,” says Bagby. This gel-cream formula acts as a light moisturizer perfect for summer, yet packed with brightening and hydrating benefits.
Main Ingredients: 10% azelaic acid, licorice root, salicylic acid
This light-hued, mineral SPF contains zinc and other protective actives to protect your skin from UVA/UVB rays without leaving a white cast. A combination of Vitamin C and a unique brightening formula helps address existing hyperpigmentation while preventing further sun damage.
Main Ingredients: ascorbic acid, zinc oxide
Any retinol can help boost cell turnover and lighten blemishes, but Bagby recommends retinols that target hyperpigmentation. “Sente has a great retinol called Bio He Complete Serum,” Bagby says. “Perfect for those new to the world of retinol and those with sensitive skin.”
Main Ingredients: Retinol, Vitamin C, Peptides
“Exfoliation is also important, especially to remove dead skin cells to keep your skin clean,” Bagby says. Just be careful not to overdo it! Lactic acid is the best AHA for hyperpigmentation because its large molecule is gentle enough for frequent use and targets hyperpigmentation for even skin.
Main Ingredients: Lactic acid, licorice, aloe