Pigmentation in general is a concern for all skin tones, but specifically Black skin faces a substantial challenge due to the melanin structure. According to the Black Skin Directory, many types of hyperpigmentation and solutions exist. However, finding the right regime for yourself can be tricky and embracing the condition can be a long journey.
Over the last two years, my maturing skin has suffered from acne, hyperpigmentation and repairing a damaged skin barrier. I tried everything from topical products, exfoliants and cleansers to combat the progressing problem. One day it clicked, and I landed on the perfect solution: Consulting with a dermatologist or proven aesthetician.
We’ve done the hard work so you don’t have to and pulled expert advice from Dr. Sandra Lee (Dr. Pimple Popper) and BeautyStat‘s cosmetics founder and chemist, Ron Robinson to give us proper steps on how to embrace and treat hyperpigmentation in all skin. Keep reading on for more.
Since the pandemic, have you seen a rise of hyperpigmentation cases and what is one common misconception of where it comes from?
Dr. Lee: I don’t think there was a discrete measurable rise in hyperpigmentation, but we have seen an increase in hair loss, a condition called telogen effluvium which is temporary hair loss due to stress and sickness/covid. However, I can imagine due to stress, that there have been more people picking at their own skin which can lead to post inflammatory pigmentation (PIH), even picking more at their pimples leading to more noticeable, darker PIH from acne. A misconception would be that in many cases of PIH we would not call that “scarring” because it often will fade with time as long as the trauma to the skin was not too deep and extensive. So this is good news to many, since PIH is often temporary although it can last many months and be slow to fade away.
Is there a difference between hyperpigmentation and acne marks? How do you recommend treating both?
Dr. Lee: Hyperpigmentation is a descriptive term to just mean darkening of the skin and this can apply to many skin conditions like birthmarks, moles, sun spots and even acne that is healing can leave temporary but somewhat long lasting hyperpigmentation. So some people with acne marks heal with hyperpigmentation, namely post inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Hyperpigmentation is usually temporary and due to the inflammation of the pimple, but if the damage to your skin is more extensive/deeper sometimes this leads to HYPOpigmentation which is more likely to be more permanent because trauma to the skin has actually damaged/destroyed melanocytes which are the cells which provide pigment to your skin.
PIH and many other causes for pigmentation, the first line treatment is to include topicals which contain ingredients which help to even the pigmentation of your skin, namely kojic acid, vitamin C, retinol, hydroquinone, tranaxemic acid and chemical peel acids like glycolic and salicylic acid.
SLMD Dark Spot Fix is great because it contains a combo of exfoliants and antioxidants including Kojic Acid and Salicylic Acid. The CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum is a great option for retinol as it contains essential ceramides, encapsulated retinol, and licorice root extract to help reduce the appearance of post-acne marks. La Roche Posay Pure Vitamin C Face Serum is a great Vitamin C option as it combines Vitamin C with Salicylic Acid and Neurosensine to leave the skin feeling brighter and hydrated.
These treatments combined with a hydrating moisturizer such as the Cetaphil Moisturizing Lotion to lock in all the moisture. Don’t forget your daily sunscreen such as my SLMD Dual Defender to help protect skin.
Vitamin C is an excellent ingredient to rid the skin of dark spots. With your hero product, the Universal C Skin Refiner, why did you choose to start off your product line with such a specific offering?
Ron Robinson: Since I began my career in beauty as a cosmetic chemist, I always loved working with vitamin C. It’s a great ingredient for the skin, but it’s notoriously unstable. That means it oxidizes, turns brown or orange and stops being effective. Consumers recognized this issue and have been looking for stable vitamin C products. This got me thinking that If I could stabilize pure vitamin C, that would be the holy grail of beauty.
After five years of research and testing and three patents, we found a way to stabilize pure vitamin C in a formula with a great texture. Then we submitted that formula for an independent clinical to test to confirm that our product did indeed deliver results. Independent testing confirmed that our formula delivered significant improvement in lines and wrinkles, firming and tightening the skin, evening out skin tone and hyperpigmentation, and diminishing the look of pores. Given these stellar results, it was clear that I had to bring this product to the market and so I launched the BeautyStat brand with a star vitamin C serum, the Universal C Skin Refiner.
Have you dealt with dark spots and acne yourself? If so, what clearing steps would you recommend for someone new to skincare to take?
Ron Robinson: Yes I do get dark spots. The BeautyStat Universal C Skin Refiner vitamin C serum and my new Universal Triple Action Daily Peel with Glucosamine & AHAs/BHAs has made a tremendous difference in my skin specifically it has evened out my skin tone and helped fade my hyperpigmentation. My recommendation for those who are new to skincare would be to first make sure you are wearing sunscreen everyday to protect the skin from UV damage that can make dark spots worse. Then introduce a vitamin C serum to help correct pigmentation issues, specifically in the morning after cleansing followed by moisturizer.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
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