Derm Topics

Treating Hyperpigmentation in Darker Skin Types: The Expert Weighs In

Essence recently posted an article on how to treat hyperpigmentation on melanated skin. What cosmetic ingredients make the most impact in treating hyperpigmentation in darker skin types? What are the challenges that skin of color poses when treating hyperpigmentation?

For expert advice, I reached out to Miami dermatologist Heather Woolery-Lloyd, MD. She will address hyperpigmentation and other conditions at the upcoming Pigmentary Disorders Exchange Symposium.

Is even skin tone an achievable goal for skin of color patients with hyperpigmentation in 2023?

Yes, even skin tone is an achievable goal.

What are the challenges that darker skin types pose when treating hyperpigmentation?

There are a few challenges that patients with darker skin face. Some of the newer studies that show efficacy of certain skincare ingredients have not been studied in darker skin types. For this reason, sometimes the results are not as obvious when used to treat hyperpigmentation in skin of color patients. It’s very important to study new ingredients to treat hyperpigmentation in darker skin types so that we can better understand the efficacy of these newer ingredients and formulations.

How do you counsel your hyperpigmentation patients who have darker skin?

I explain to patients that treatment involves two important factors. One is a skincare routine that includes formulations that specifically target hyperpigmentation. Two, I also emphasize the importance of sunscreen, which is critical when treating hyperpigmentation. I explain to patients that without sunscreen, treatment is an uphill battle.

What skincare ingredients make the most impact in treating hyperpigmentation in patients with skin of color?

A combination approach is usually the most effective. Skincare ingredients like azelaic acid, tranexamic acid, kojic acid, licorice root extract, vitamin c, niacinamide, thiamidol, and cysteamine have all been shown to be effective in the treatment of hyperpigmentation. Combination treatment can mean using several different products in a skincare routine but can also mean using formulations that combine various ingredients that have been used to treat hyperpigmentation.

What other therapies do you recommend to your patients?

I always emphasize the importance of sunscreen.

Are there any therapies in the pipeline that may help? What’s the future of treating hyperpigmentation?

Combination therapies continue to offer new options to treat hyperpigmentation. There are also many new ingredients being studied.

What’s important for dermatology clinicians to keep in mind when treating skin of color patients with hyperpigmentation?

It is important to use a comprehensive approach. Combining highly effective formulations with sun protection is key to achieving optimal results.

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