Clear skin and an even skin tone are separate worlds. Anyone who has battled with acne is the surest example of the distinction between the two. You can have a spot-free face after your acne has successfully been exorcised, but the dusting of faint brown marks that come after are a reminder of how your complexion has suffered.

These lingering marks are defined as hyperpigmentation, and like a bad memory, it is not easy to get rid of. The most common way we’ve learned to deal with an uneven skin tone is to turn to cosmetics, with concealers and high-coverage foundations to guise the imbalance beneath. But still, these are temporary solutions. Skincare is your most effective weapon against hyperpigmentation, and with the right products, the battle is far less treacherous.

how to get rid of hyperpigmentation
Hyperpigmentation marks.

What is hyperpigmentation?

Hyperpigmentation is caused by inflammation or oxidative stress to your skin — in simple terms, blemishes and sun damage. When your skin gets inflamed, it produces melanin as a protective response to the trauma. Because many of these injuries to your complexion are localised in patches, once the angry redness fades, you’re left with discoloured blotches on some areas only.

Key products to look out for

You want to zone in on two specific products — serums and chemical exfoliants. Look out for labels that shout “brightening” or feature a particular acid accompanied by a percentage rating.

A chemical exfoliant, also known as an acid treatment, is the canon in your arsenal. To those unfamiliar with what a chemical exfoliant is, the name may sound like you are subjecting your face to toxic, but the reality could not be gentler. These are acids sourced naturally, from botanicals and fruits, that help exfoliate the skin and boost cellular turnover. Applying this right after you’ve washed and toned your face helps slough off the discoloured bundles to unearth new, balanced skin.

Serums are useful because they are small but mighty. This product category usually comes as a gel or a thin lotion packed with a high concentration of powerful elements, and they should be used right after your essence or chemical exfoliator.

While these two products are key, your repertoire should also include brightening creams to go full force.

Hyperpigmentation can also be as easily prevented with a good sunscreen, so don’t forget to slather your facial shield before you leave the house every day.

Key ingredients to look for

Learning how to sift through ingredient lists are paramount. The trio to spot are arbutin, vitamin C, and alpha hydroxy acids.

Our recommendations

Alpha hydroxy acids, better known as AHAs, are a class of chemical exfoliants that help your skin shed off the top layer of grime and dead skin. Progressive use of such products also helps fade marks.

There are different types of AHAs, but the most common ones you’ll find on the shelves are glycolic acid, the powerhouse of the group; mandelic acid, which is a notch lighter; and lactic acid, the gentlest of all. You should only use this every other day, or twice a week if the AHA concentration is higher than 15 percent.

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Sunday Riley Good Genes.

Beginners to chemical exfoliation should try the cult Good Genes from Sunday Riley. This soothing treatment rose to global fame because it delivers results overnight, and we swear that it’s true. Purified lactic acid scours your facial surface and eradicates all clogs, and over time, your scars will be noticeably reduced. Success stories hint that it takes six months to completely fade them.

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Erno Laszlo White Marble Radiance Emulsion.

Arbutin is a substance that naturally occurs in various berries. As a compound that lightens the skin, arbutin inhibits the excessive production of melanin as it fades your dark spots. Erno Laszlo’s White Marble Radiance Emulsion is a top serum choice for us, as it combines arbutin with rice starch, another ingredient prized for its brightening effects.

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Eve Lom Brightening Cream.

Turn to the Brightening Cream from Eve Lom if you want something with a thicker texture. Specially designed to rectify hyperpigmented skin, this arbutin cream is lush when applied because it contains shea butter and beeswax.

The last hyperpigmentation butt-kicker is a substance so familiar to our daily lives: vitamin C. Not for consumption, obviously. We mean topical vitamin C serums that are an injection of pure radiance to the face. These products also bolster your innate defence system against UV rays, which prevents the recurrence of new patches.

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Clinique Fresh Pressed Daily Booster.

Clinique’s Fresh Pressed Daily Booster is a classic choice, as it comes with 10 percent pure vitamin C and peptides that revive aged skin.

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Peter Thomas Roth Vitamin C Brightening Serum.

But if that is too gentle for you, then go straight to Peter Thomas Roth’s Vitamin C Brightening Serum, which harnesses the power of the Amazonian camu camu berry — a fruit with 30 times more vitamin C than the average orange.

Go forth to get even.

Beatrice Bowers
Features Editor
Beatrice Bowers writes about beauty, drinks, and other nice things. When not bound to her keyboard, she moonlights as a Niffler for novels and can be found en route to bankruptcy at your nearest bookstore. Don't tell her boss.