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  • Sharon Belmo

Over the counter treatments for hyperpigmentation

If you’re a woman of colour, you’ve likely experienced darker patches of skin that contrast against your surrounding lighter skin. This condition, known as hyperpigmentation, is very common and can be caused by a number of dermatological conditions, hormonal changes, certain medications, and exposure to the sun, all of which overstimulate the skin’s melanin-producing cells.

Four Easy-to-Find Treatments for Women of Colour

The products below have been well researched and tested for their effectiveness at treating skin discoloration. Most can be found at your local pharmacy or beauty shop: Sunscreens: Of course, a quality SPF is essential for preventing further sun damage and discoloration. Use at least SPF 30 and look for sunscreens that contain iron oxide, zinc oxide and/or titanium oxide for added protection against visible light (shown to worsen hyperpigmentation in skin of colour).

Products with Retinoids: Retinoids are a class of compounds derived from vitamin A that can treat both acne and hyperpigmentation. Retinoids vary from mild to strong (prescription strength). Over the counter retinoids may be called retinol esters, retinol, retinaldehyde (in order of increasing strength). Are you using a retinoid? Have a look at your labels.

Products with Kojic Acid: Kojic acid is a natural compound derived from mushrooms that inhibits melanin production. Kojic acid containing products can help reduce the appearance of dark spots and brighten the complexion.

Products with Azelaic Acid: Azelaic acid is another compound that inhibits melanin production and is found in wheat and barley. Similar to kojic acid, products with azelaic acid can help brighten the skin and reduce the appearance of dark spots.

Dr Sharon Belmo Skin of Colour Black Skin Dermatologist London


Don't let hyperpigmentation affect your confidence—there are a number of over-the-counter products with ingredients that can help reduce the appearance of dark spots and uneven skin tone. Incorporate sunscreen with a retinoid, kojic acid, or azelaic acid product into your daily skincare routine to brighten your complexion and achieve healthy, even-toned skin.

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