One of my biggest skincare insecurities is hyperpigmentation. For those who aren’t very familiar with the term, hyperpigmentation is a really common, harmless skincare problem: It happens when your skin produces excess melanin resulting in dark spots. There are many things that can trigger hyperpigmentation such as exposure to the sun, inflammation and hormones – the skin tells itself to create excess melanin in response. Freckles, sun spots and age spots are common occurrence of hyperpigmentation. Just in case you think you’re the only one who’s struggling with it, don’t fret – hyperpigmentation affects skin of all colours!
However hyperpigmentation doesn’t just naturally disappear which is why, like many, I feel pretty self-conscious about it. I developed these spots thanks to poor skincare practices when I was younger. Think skipping the sunscreen, using an exfoliator everyday instead of a cleanser and picking on my skin during those years filled with teen acne. Wished I could turn back time and tell “past Stephanie” to get it together!
Fortunately, I caught myself just in time, but the damage has need repair since. It’s become a habit to wear at least a medium coverage concealer / foundation to cover the discolouration and despite integrating expensive skincare in my routine to combat it, it’s taken a while to get my skin to where it was before my teen years.
I’ve spent quite a fortune on various products and brands that claims to target hyperpigmentation but I would say they contribute very little to getting my skin to where it is today. A combination of a better skincare routine / practice as well as incorporating specific treatments have done more to help my skin heal itself.
Hyperpigmentation Skincare Routine – The Basics
Our skin is a living, breathing thing so when I think about repairing my skin, I think about what might trigger it to repair itself without introducing an excessive number of foreign materials on the skin.
I start by making sure I drink a sufficient amount of water every day – a hydrated and well-rested skin doesn’t have to work as hard and can better focus on the specific issue of hyperpigmentation.
Wearing and reapplying sunscreen throughout the day are also key to prevent spots from getting darker. I also regularly use a gentle exfoliator to slough away the dead skin cells. I make my own sugar-based scrubs or purchase inexpensive ones from the drugstore. Like I said, no need to be too fancy about it – the physical motion of massaging your skin with a scrub should be sufficient to gently and slowly remove the dead skin.
Hyperpigmentation Skincare Routine – The Extra Workers
I’ve quickly discovered the above methods, whilst effective at maintaining prevention, doesn’t really show results quickly. I’m not a very patient person and I need to see results to believe what I’m doing is working. That’s led me to try out a bunch of skincare products from different brands like Avene, Neostrata but none has worked as quickly or as effective as the pieces I’ve tried from The Ordinary.
Word of Advice: Treatments for hyperpigmentation and dark spots typically contain ingredients like Vitamin C, hydroquinone which increases the skin sensitivity to the sun. I only use these treatments at night and apply a generous amount of sunscreen during the day. You may also find it beneficial to alternate usage to every other day if you find the treatments too much for your skin!
My favourite combination from the Ordinary?
Advanced Retinoid 2% + Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% + 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil
I’ve never seen skincare that works this quickly and showing some kick-ass results despite only costing a few bucks each.
1. Advanced Retinoid 2%
The Advanced Retinoid 2% ($9.80, available here) encourages the skin to increase cell turnover, corrects pigmentation irregularities, and promotes collagen production. Essentially it works to prevent and reverses signs of skin damage due to aging and pigmentation. It has a milky white consistency and a slight scent to it but in the 4+ weeks that I’ve been using it I’ve had no irritation nor did it dry out my skin.
After the first few days, I wasn’t really seeing anything but by day 8-9, my skin was transformed! My skin looked clearer, and more even both in tones and texture! Plus, this product is a gem to keep in the long-run – it has antimicrobial and antioxidant properties which makes the skin’s job to fix itself, all that much easier.
You know how else I knew it worked? I had 4 slices of pizza on Friday evening (I had a rough week okay? No judging please) and normally I would have broken out like crazy but didn’t. When I stopped using this for 2 weeks and ate half a bag of chips (an accident, I swear!) I could tell the beginning of a spot was being formed. As soon as I restarted using this, the spot disappeared! A total winner in my book!
2. Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%
The Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% ($7.90, available here) is my newest purchase from the brand. It claims to “brighten the skin tone while visibly improving the evenness of skin texture and reducing the look of blemishes.” It has a thick creamy consistency which at first I thought was sufficient to use as a night cream. It dries completely though though you’ll definitely want to be adding some hydration on your skin when you’re using this.
This was the only product that I had some form of reaction to – my skin felt itchy, tingly and was completely red (as if it was sunburnt) for a good 5 minutes. I was warned in advance as it contains a very high amount concentration of said acid. The reaction didn’t bother me as much as I’ve seen it when I tried new brightening skincare before and I applied it right before bed so I wasn’t awake long enough to feel discomfort.
The overnight transformation cannot be denied – I woke up for hot yoga and found myself completely skipping the foundation and only needed the tiniest amount of concealer to cover a few remaining spots. I always wear some type of complexion product (concealer or foundation) when I go out so this instant transformation shocked me beyond expectations. I’ve been using this every other night in the first week, and then daily as my skin got used to it. The almost instant result is worth more than the $8 that I paid for it.
3. 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil
The 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil ($9.90, available here) is the big finale. This insanely nourishing yet lightweight face oil is packed with antioxidants, fatty acids and pro Vitamin A which not only hydrate the skin but targets signs of sun damage and texture issues. I massage this on after the above two products and my skin LOVES it – it repairs my skin overnight and the result that I’ve seen from daily use in the last 3 months shows my skin looking a lot more elastic, plump and fresher. Since rosehip is a dry oil, it doesn’t leave any greasy residue on my skin either which is another reason to love it!
This oil is the one reason I’ve converted back again to using face oil – my experience with the Josie Maran Argan Oil (which created cysts on my face) turned me away from face oils in general.
I am so happy to find a combination that actually works, shows results quickly and costs less than $30! I am so so convinced with what The Ordinary offers and these are being replenished in my routine as soon as possible!
Have you tried the Ordinary skincare products?