Emma Wedgwood

What causes hyperpigmentation?

July 25, 2022

Our skin is constantly growing and changing according to our age, lifestyle, and hormones. Any number of factors can influence the quality and appearance of our skin.

Our skin is constantly growing and changing according to our age, lifestyle, and hormones. Any number of factors can influence the quality and appearance of our skin.

But one thing that can be immensely frustrating and damage self confidence is uneven skin pigmentation. Hyperpigmentation is also sometimes known as pigmentation spots or sun spots. But what are these dark spots and how can they be treated?

What causes pigmentation?

The natural pigment that dictates the colour of our skin, hair, and eyes is called melanin. Sometimes our body increases melanin production, which causes uneven colouring or hyperpigmentation.

What triggers hyperpigmentation?

There are several things that can cause hyperpigmentation:

Sun exposure

Melanin is designed to be the body’s natural sunscreen by protecting you from UV rays. When you are exposed to the sun, the body makes more melanin, giving us a tan. But sun exposure won’t always give you the even tan of your dreams! Sun exposure can also lead to sun spots, age spots, and make other marks on the skin worse. Make sure you use the right SPF and stick to fake tan for the safest summer glow!


When we go through periods of hormonal change such as puberty, pregnancy, or menopause our melanin production can become disrupted causing melasma or chloasma. These dark patches and/or patterns often appear on the face but can also occur anywhere else on the body.

Inflammation and injury

Skin which has been damaged is more susceptible to hyperpigmentation. If you have suffered with acne, psoriasis, or dermatitis in the past there is a possibility that the damaged skin will be darker after sun exposure.

Is hyperpigmentation permanent?

There are several treatment options for hyperpigmentation.

Cosmeceuticals and Medical Grade Skincare

Cosmeceuticals and medical grade skincare include high strength active ingredients which work to solve or prevent specific skin conditions. Ingredients such as vitamin C and liquorice root can be useful in treating hyperpigmentation. They are often available on prescription only, so it is important to have a consultation with a qualified medical practitioner to find the right treatment for you.

One option is the Obaji Nu-Derm® system, which is a prescription only skincare system designed to address hyperpigmentation as well as improve visible signs of skin ageing. Remember that a good skincare regime will optimise the quality of your skin, as well as address specific issues such as hyperpigmentation.

Chemical peels

A chemical peel can treat hyperpigmentation by removing the top layer of the skin, revealing fresh new skin underneath. Depending on the type of peel, the active ingredients may also work on the middle layer of your skin, which provides even deeper results.


Microneedling punctures the surface of the skin with tiny needles. This stimulates the body’s healing process while fading dark patches and evening out the skin tone. When the skin is damaged, it begins creating additional collagen which improves the tone and texture of the skin.

Fraxel® laser

Fraxel® laser treats the skin with lasers on a two wavelength for both surface and deeper skin rejuvenation. It stimulates the growth of new healthy cells by accelerating the body’s natural healing process. It removes old epidermis which is especially useful when lifting sun damaged skin allowing a renewed epidermal layer to replace it. This results in an illuminated and completely refreshed complexion.

Halo BBL laser

The Halo laser is considered the gold standard in treatment for pigmentation and sun damage. It also works using a dual technology, combining both ablative (surface) and non-ablative (underlying skin tissue) wavelengths. While the light pulses cause destruction of superficial pigmentation such as brown age spots and seal dilated blood vessels, the hybrid modality laser has a regenerative effect on the dermal fibroblasts giving a youthful glow and more even complexion.

PicoSure Laser

The PicoSure laser is another type of laser that can be particularly useful for small, specific areas of pigmentation (brown) patches or solar lentigos. This laser specifically targets pigment with a focus lens incurring minimal thermal damage due to the unique and ground breaking innovation. This helps with a much shorter downtime than you would expect with traditional laser treatment.

Hyperpigmentation can be frustrating and damage self confidence, but it can be treated. Book a free consultation today to discuss the right options for you and your skin type so you can regain your confidence in your skin!

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