Education, Wellness / Self-Care

How can Retinol help Hyperpigmentation?

As if getting a blemish wasn’t enough.

words by: Natasha Marsh
Jul 27, 2022

Dealing with blemishes, flare ups, and zits are sadly a part of daily life for many people. Of course it can be a struggle dealing with a breakout before a big interview, date, or event — but worse than the initial shock is what they leave behind: Pesky dark spots known as hyperpigmentation. Caused by the overproduction of melanin, the dark spots yield to uneven skin tone and darker patches of skin.


Hyperpigmentation is a very common skin condition, especially for people of color who have a stronger melanin count. Essentially, when the body sends too much melanin to heal the blemish, it will create a dark spot. Most hyperpigmentation fades with time, while some take weeks or months to treat if left unaddressed. The good news: There are loads of skincare routines and topical products that can help treat current hyperpigmentation — one of the most common being retinol.


What causes hyperpigmentation?

Before we get into the benefits of retinol, it’s important to understand the main causes of hyperpigmentation. The biggest one being post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. It occurs after an insult (acne, eczema, or any inflammatory process) to the skin. The trauma caused by acne will create inflammation and damage the pigment cells — making them leak out more pigment and produce dark spots.


Hyperpigmentation can also be caused by lentigos. Lentigos, also known as sun spots, result in excess sun exposure from UV light and blue lights, which can lead to hyperpigmentation. Acne inflames the skin and the product produces more pigment to heal.


To prevent hyperpigmentation, you can look at sunscreen. When used daily, it will act as a great armor against skin damage. Not to mention, sunscreen will also keep dark spots from darkening further. You can also use a product high in Vitamin C to brighten and smooth the skin. But the real holy grail product you should invest in if you have hyperpigmentation is retinol.


How retinol helps

Known as the anti-aging hero product, retinol penetrates into the skin and disrupts the production of pigment by blocking the transcription of tyrosinase — the enzyme known for the development of dark spots. Retinol prevents melanin production and lightens pigmentation without lighting the surrounding skin. By doing so, it speeds up cell turnover.


As an added benefit, it also stimulates collagen production, helping fade dark spots and produce new cells. With better collagen production, you will not only have decreased hyperpigmentation, but improved luminosity, skin elasticity, and texture. Retinol really is that product.


And don’t worry — you can use Vitamin C and retinol in the same routine.


Photo via Getty