Understanding Hyperpigmentation

A blotchy uneven complexion, known as hyperpigmentation, can be c

A blotchy uneven complexion, known as hyperpigmentation, can be caused by a range of factors. Follow our guide to find out more about pigmentation causes and how to visibly improve uneven skin tone.

What is Hyperpigmentation?

Hyperpigmentation refers to blotchy uneven complexion, it presents itself in many forms: pigmentation which may appear as uneven skin tone, post-blemish marks and hyperpigmentation caused by melasma.

Hyperpigmentation occurs due to an overproduction of melanin - the pigment that produces normal skin colour - in a concentrated area. This excess melanin rises to the surface of the skin, causing visible, and often stubborn, discolouration.

There are multiple triggers of hyperpigmentation which include - UV exposure, medication, and some professional treatments – all of which can trigger the production of excess melanin in the skin’s deepest, unseen, epidermal layers.

Understanding Hyperpigmentation
Understanding Hyperpigmentation

Pigmentation can appear anywhere on the body however most commonly it’s found on the sun-exposed areas of skin: face, décolletage, arms and backs of the hands. Discoloration can develop on all skin types.

Types of pigmentation:

There are several different types pigmentation, these include:

  • Age Spots/ Stubborn Dark Patches
  • Post Inflammation - following professional treatments or skin injury
  • Post-Blemish Scars
  • Hyperpigmentation caused by Melasma - a form of hyperpigmentation more common in women and those with olive or darker skin types, as hormonal influences play a role often triggered by pregnancy and oral contraceptive use.

What causes pigmentation?

There are three main reasons why the body produces excess melanin, these are sun exposure, hormone level and scarring.


Sun exposure is the one of the main causes of pigment changes. Melanin is key for protecting the skin against sun damage. When skin is exposed to the sun, melanin absorbs the energy of the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays in order to protect the skin from overexposure. The result of this process is skin tanning. However, sometimes sun exposure triggers an overproduction of skin cells and these cells cluster together to form small circular marks known as age or sun spots (solar lentigines) on the areas of skin most exposed to the sun like face, décolletage and backs of the hands.

Wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF15 every day (even during winter time) will help protect against further damage from the sun’s harmful UV rays and helps prevent sun-induced hyperpigmentation.


Hormonal changes in the body can also affect pigmentation. Fluctuations in oestrogen levels, due to pregnancy or oral contraceptive use, can also stimulate your melanocyte cells to work overtime and create pools of melanin on the skin called melisma spots. Pregnancy, for example, can trigger overproduction of melanin on the face and darkened skin on the abdomen and other areas, sometimes referred to as ‘Pregnancy Mask’.


Scarring caused by blemishes, imperfections, injuries or surgery, can all lead to uneven skin tone. A swollen pimple or any blemish that causes scarring can also jump-start melanin production (especially in Asian, Hispanic or black skin), leaving a stubborn mark called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Additionally, surgery or injuries can cause inflammation, resulting in over production of melanin.

Products for Pigmentation

At SkinCeuticals, to target pigmentation, we recommend the below regimen:

  1. Cleanse + Tone - Simply Clean + Equalizing Toner

This comprehensive cleansing ritual will cleanse skin and leave your complexion balanced and refreshed. First cleanse with Simply Clean a gel cleanser which exfoliates, soothes and softens the skin to for smoother looking skin.  After cleansing we recommend Equalizing Toner which refreshes the skin, gently exfoliates and removes excess residue for a refreshed complexion.

2. Prevent - Phloretin CF

This innovative serum combines 2% phloretin, 10% l-ascorbic acid and 0.5% ferulic acid, it accelerates surface skin cell renewal and promote a brighter, firmer-looking complexion. Also available in a gel formula, Phloretin CF Gel. Read more about how Antioxidants work in the skin here .

3. Correct - Discoloration Defense Serum

Formulated to target discolouration, this is a high potency serum to help reduce the appearance of key types of discolouration for visibly brighter and more even skin tone. In clinical assessment this formula delivered a 41% average improvement in the appearance of stubborn brown patches*.

* Improvement of score from visual grading, 63 Subjects, 12 weeks

4. Hydrate - Hydrating B5

This is a hydrating serum that helps bind moisture to the skin, keeping it soothed and moisturised. This multifunctional formula provides optimal hydration and skin nourishing benefits.

 5. Protect - Ultra Facial Defense SPF 50 or Brightening UV Defense

These lightweight suncreams provide an excellent protective layer against the damaging effects of the sun. Both provide high-factor, broad-spectrum UV protection and help to protect against photoageing and environmental damage.