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Whether you’re dealing with a dark mark left behind by a blemish, spots that indicate sun damage, or hormone-induced melasma, these typically unwanted changes in the skin all fall under the umbrella of hyperpigmentation. Caused by the cells responsible for skin’s color, melanocytes, depositing excess pigment into deeper levels of the skin, these forms of discoloration can be incredibly frustrating for those who strive for an even-toned complexion — especially since it can be tough to reverse.
“In general, hyperpigmentation is tough to treat and a chronic condition,” New York City-based board-certified dermatologist Dhaval Bhanusali tells Allure, noting that he explains to his patients that it must be taken seriously because it’s so easy for it to recur. Although some patients choose to undergo laser treatments for their dark spots to address their hyperpigmentation with customized prescription compounds — Bhanusali often blends a high-dose of hydroquinone with kojic acid and vitamin C for his patients — there are ways to combat discoloration without often-expensive in-office procedures and medications.
That’s where these over-the-counter options come in. Often made with the same active ingredients that dermatologists use in prescription compounds, these serums and creams have helped many people see more even skin and lessened hyperpigmentation with consistent use — and dermatologists themselves are impressed enough to recommend them.
But there is something else dermatologists recommend across the board to get dark spots under control: sunscreen. “Before you spend your money on antioxidant serums and retinoids to improve the tone and texture of your skin, the most important first step is diligent daily sun protection, which is key to reducing the appearance of brown spots,” says board-certified dermatologist Shari Marchbein, also based in New York City. “Otherwise you are literally throwing your money away investing in other skin-care products.”
Got your sunscreen? Good. Here are the hyperpigmentation-fighting products to pair with it.
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