If there's one question that I get asked all the time, it's this one by Micaela S. from Chicago: "How does an African-American woman fight hyperpigmentation and discoloration nowadays?"
Sadly, Micaela, there isn’t a quick fix. There are drugstore brands that are specifically marketed towards women of color, but as many of my friends and I have learned, they don’t work well. In this case, you get what you pay for. Of course, the best solution is to seek the help of a dermatologist. However, if that isn’t an option, here are the products and treatments I've tried that have made a difference, ahead.
I love the serums by Dr. Dennis Gross, Skinceuticals, and Dermalogica, which work wonders for skin with discolorations when used twice a day. You can see results in a couple of weeks because of the potent vitamin C, retinol, and various acids, which are key to lightening problem areas. They're also great as acne-fighters and wrinkle-reducers if you struggle with those issues.
I also recently started test-driving S5 Illuminate Serum and while it’s still early in my testing phase, I’ve noticed a bit of brightening.
A less expensive product option is Philosophy The Microdelivery Triple-Acid Brightening Peel. The pads are pre-soaked with mandelic, phytic, and azelaic acids for deep exfoliation. Once a week, swipe your face with the pads after your cleanse and leave on for a few minutes before you rinse and moisturize as usual.
They’re effective and less irritating than glycolic peels at a spa, which are also amazing for hyperpigmentation if done once a month. Microdermabrasion sloughs off dead skin cells and can also give great effects. But again, that can get expensive and may not work for all budgets.
The plucking, picking, and digging at ingrown hairs can also cause hyperpigmentation. I’ve been using the me Smooth Elos At-Home Hair Removal System to touch up my upper lip, chin, and armpits. I’ve had laser hair removal before and this at-home option is way less painful. You feel a bit of heat, but it doesn’t zap like a laser. And, the $300 price tag is more reasonable than in-office touchup visits.