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Dark spots and pigmentation are one of our top skin concerns, especially as we grow older. People with darker skin can run a higher risk of developing dark spots and uneven skin tone because they’re more sensitive to factors that can cause or further develop hyperpigmentation, such as sun exposure.

Considering that many of us in Singapore are not as fair as our Caucasian counterparts and are often exposed to the sun, we are at a fairly high risk of getting dark spots and pigmentation even earlier than we expect.

While most hyperpigmentation can be covered up with makeup, nothing beats solving the problem so that you can confidently go out with bare skin.

Hence, we have compiled a comprehensive guide on how to treat dark spots or skin pigmentation.

What Is Skin Pigmentation, and What Causes It?

Dark Spots Pigmentation Issues

Although most of us view it as a skin problem, hyperpigmentation is actually a very common condition that affects people of all skin types.

Hyperpigmentation occurs when the skin produces more melanin (the pigment that gives skin its colour). This makes spots or patches of your skin appear darker than surrounding areas.

Some forms of hyperpigmentation, including melasma and sunspots, are more likely to affect areas of skin that face sun exposure, including the face, arms, and legs. Other types of hyperpigmentation form after an injury or skin inflammation, such as cuts, burns, acne, or lupus – these can occur anywhere on the body.

On that note, you may be wondering what are some common causes of dark spots and pigmentation that you should take note of. While some may be avoidable, others are caused by changes in the body that we do not have much control over:

  • Sun damage: People can develop dark spots on their skin after being exposed to the sun or tanning beds.
  • Hormonal changes: Melasma is a skin condition that leads to small patches of skin discolouration. The condition is more common in women, especially during pregnancy. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, hormones may trigger melasma.
  • Inflammation: Dark spots can develop after a bout of inflammation on the skin. Inflammation may be caused by other underlying skin problems, including eczema, psoriasis, injury to the skin, and acne.
  • Wound healing: Dark spots may remain after an insect bite, burn, or cut heals, and these tend to fade faster in time.
  • Irritation: Especially common in those with sensitive skin, cosmetic or hair products can irritate the skin, causing dark patches to form.

How To Treat Dark Spots and Pigmentation?

Preventing Dark Spots and Pigmentation With Basic Skincare

Skincare Myths Sunscreen

The first thing that should be on your list of treating dark spots and pigmentation is to prevent dark spots and pigmentation from occurring at all, especially if it’s within your control.

One of the most common causes of hyperpigmentation in the skin is sun exposure, and if you’re looking to prevent dark spots and pigmentation, you should limit the amount of UV exposure you get a day.

We know it can be difficult since it is sunny all year round, but you can still do so by crafting a skincare routine that avoids or lessens the damaging impact of UV light through timely prevention and cure:

  • Apply sun protection daily: Never skip out on your sunscreen – not even at home! This helps you to avoid activating your melanin production system.
  • Use anti-inflammatory skincare actives regularly: Chronic inflammation from acne or eczema can become unhealthy and cause hyperpigmentation.
  • Use brightening actives after skin damage: Most of us are so occupied with trying to get rid of acne that we forget that a breakout is the exact moment we should implement a brightening active in our routine. Use it before hyperpigmentation develops, and you may avoid the darkening of your skin altogether!

Cosmetic Procedures To Treat Dark Spots and Pigmentation

Cosmetic Procedures

For those of you who want to find a fast and effective solution to treat dark spots and pigmentation, you’ll be glad to know that many aesthetic clinics in Singapore offer cosmetic procedures that can help you lighten areas of skin to reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation.

Some examples of procedures to treat dark spots and pigmentation include:

  • Laser therapy: This is the most common procedure done to treat dark spots and pigmentation. Lasers deliver an intense beam of light that is absorbed and converted into heat, which either disperses the group of melanin cells or destroys the skin cells carrying the pigment molecule.
  • Intense pulsed light: A safer, broad-spectrum light that heats and destroys brown spots, melasma, broken capillaries, and sunspots.
  • Chemical peel: This removes the top layers of skin, allowing it to regenerate, effectively helping to treat dark spots and pigmentation.
  • Microdermabrasion: You can think of this as physical exfoliation (in contrast to chemical peels) that uses tiny particles to sand away dead skin.

Topical Products To Treat Dark Spots and Pigmentation

Topical Products

If you are not keen on doing aesthetic procedures, you also have the option of buying over-the-counter or dermatologist-prescribed products to try and treat dark spots and pigmentation.

Lightening creams and gels are common products that work with select ingredients to help decrease pigmentation. These are usually sold over-the-counter in your typical drugstores and beauty retailers but are also available in stronger prescription forms. Lightening creams or gels work best for flat spots, such as melasma or age spots, and are effective for patches of discolouration on most skin types.

Face acids, or skin acids, are like chemical peels that you can do at home – some examples include glycolic acid, lactic acid, and mandelic acid. Face acids work well for mild hyperpigmentation on fairer skin tones.

Derived from vitamin A, retinoids are among some of the oldest OTC skincare ingredients used. They can come in either a prescription or over-the-counter formula, but take note that the latter tends to be weaker.

If you don’t see any results after a couple of months, you may have to get a prescription from your derm for retinoid tretinoin (Retin-A).

Best Products To Treat Dark Spots or Pigmentation