Treating acne and the marks it leaves behind can be a vicious cycle, one I’m too familiar with.
Most times it would start out as one pimple I thought I could contain. But because the universe has a weird plan, that’s not always how it works, does it? Just as one blemish started to retreat, another crop of pimples would stealthily emerge. And after the long and hard-fought battle was won, I was left with the aftermath of dark spots all over my face or neck. It felt like a never ending war.
Today there are various solutions to treat those dark spots on your face, which also occur as a result of hormones, sun exposure and age. And while some treatments can be done at home, more severe issues with hyperpigmentation and scarring may need professional attention.
Below is a list of must-dos that I have used in order to remove and prevent further hyperpigmentation and scarring, regardless of the cause. It's a war out there and I’m determined to win!
Chemical peels utilize the strength of acids to remove unhealthy skin cells from different layers of your skin, depending on the strength of the peel, and with multiple treatments can stimulate collagen production and decrease the appearance of dark spots. Certain causes of hyperpigmentation and fine wrinkles can easily be treated with a light peel, since those skin issues live on the surface layer of your skin, the epidermis.
You can book a peel with your dermatologist or esthetician, but today you can also achieve similar results at home. After opting for expensive light peels for years, I finally sought out to create my own at-home version, The Famous AF O.G. Peel.
I wanted my peel to contain the optimal percentage of alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs) for my sensitive skin. Still, I wanted the peel to exfoliate my skin and remove the dead cells responsible for those acne spots, dark spots, and wrinkles. The O.G. Peel contains 15% lactic acid to gently strip away dead, bruised skin cells left behind after a pimple. It also includes glycolic acid, which works hard to exfoliate your skin’s top layer, helping to speed up cell turnover that reveals a brighter, refreshed complexion.
Once I began incorporating a serum into my skincare routine, my glow-up went from zero to 100. Exfoliating my face with a chemical peel removed all of the dead skin cells, allowing the healthy skin beneath to benefit from the serum’s nutrient rich ingredients. I let my skin tell me which serums to use; there’s no one-size-fits-all remedy. Being attentive to your skin's needs will determine which serum to use. Lately I’ve been using Skin Medica HA5 for its super hydrating and plumping effects.
For hyperpigmentation, look for serums with a focus on brighter skin. Key ingredients include kojic acid, vitamin c, retinoids and azelaic acid.
Sunscreen / SPF
Every product you apply and every treatment you undergo will rely on the power of SPF to protect your skin and keep its healthy glow. Every day, my morning routine consists of sunscreen moisturizer (right now I’m using iS Clinical Extreme Protect) to avoid sunspots, wrinkles, and sunburn.
Applying an effective SPF of at least 30 to your face every day should be a vital part of even the simplest skincare routine.
Laser treatment isn’t just for hair removal. In the world of dermatology and skincare, laser therapy eliminates pigment deposits deep under your skin – think tattoo removal. That same technology is used to help you combat hyperpigmentation and get rid of dark spots caused by acne, melasma and sun exposure.
Pico laser technology is a popular treatment I’ve opted for because it’s effective on all skin types, including people with darker complexions.
Still, it’s important to note that if you have darker skin, you should steer clear of high heat lasers, as they can cause post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. This can worsen the dark spots you’ve been working so hard to clear up.
When you hear people say, “I’m getting a facial,” they’re likely referring to a microdermabrasion treatment. This is another great exfoliating option that uses tiny crystals to gently sand away the outermost layer of skin revealing a more even skin tone and texture.
Similar to chemical peels, microdermabrasion can improve the appearance of sun damage, wrinkles, fine lines, age spots, acne scarring, melasma, and other skin-related concerns and conditions. There is no downtime or recovery period (but at a higher cost than at-home treatments).
To determine if microdermabrasion treatment is right for your skin type, consult with a dermatologist first.
Tiny needles puncturing the top layer of your skin? That sounds like too. Damn. Much. But microneedling is a powerful way to treat severe hyperpigmentation and melasma. Those needle punctures cause tiny wounds, inducing your body to produce collagen and elastin to revive it and fill out those hollow nooks and crannies on your face. Typically, a serum is applied at the conclusion of a microneedling session to deliver nourishing ingredients deep into the skin as your pores are open and exposed after a treatment. Ultimately, you’ll notice reduced pore size, fewer wrinkles and an overall refreshed appearance with minimally visible dark spots.
Microneedling ranks as one of the pricier skin options, however. You should first consult with a dermatologist to determine if it’s the right treatment for your skin conditions, skin type and budget.
As a rule, professional treatments can be uncomfortable to downright painful. Therefore, numbing creams or cooling wands are usually employed to provide relief during the procedures.
Early on in my skincare journey, I didn’t think my hyperpigmentation issues would ever be resolved. It’s exciting to know that hyperpigmentation is manageable, especially if you begin treating it early on. For those of us battling skin issues, it’s important to know what options are available for our routine, no matter how simple or comprehensive it is.
Your skin deserves better than a vicious cycle.