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Hyperpigmentation 101

Joanna Melville | 04.07.2021

Whilst pigmentation in the skin is natural and what forms our glorious spectrum of skin tones, overproduction or underproduction can cause patches, spots and unevenness. Hyperpigmentation specifically is when too much Melanin is created as a result of scarring, inflammation, hormones, sun exposure or ageing. 


When it comes to pigmentation, there are a variety of different types with a range of causes and attributes. 

HYPERPIGMENTATION is simply the over production of melanin by skin cells called melanocytes which creates darker patches on the skin and can occur all over the body including the face
. It can be caused by acne and skin traumas and injuries, sun exposure, hormone changes such as pregnancy or contraception, certain medications and genetic factors such as skin type (darker skin types are more prone to pigmentation change). 

There are a few variations of hyperpigmentation: 

    • PIH (POST-INFLAMMATORY HYPERPIGMENTATION): Not to be mistaken for scarring, PIH is areas of dark or red skin that appear after acne or a trauma to the skin such as dermatitis, infection or burns, has healed. PIH is the result of skin increasing melanin production in the area of skin as part of the healing process. Scarring is more connected to the production of collagen which causes raised lumps or indentations post-pimple. 
    • MELASMA:  this form of Hyperpigmentation which is caused by hormonal changes. This can frequently occur during pregnancy
    • SOLAR LENTIGINES – also known as sunspots, are  a patch of darker skin (similar to a large freckle) that are caused by sun/UV exposure
    • MOLES/FRECKLES: These are formed due to an overproduction of Melanin in a very specific area and in a cluster formation - they can be genetic or due to excessive sun exposure. 

In opposition, HYPOPIGMENTATION is where there is a lack of melanin production and leaves white or lighter patches on the skin
 such as Vitiligo which happens when the melanocytes, responsible for creating the melanin which gives the skin its’ colour, are destroyed - making the skin lose colour or turn white


There are several approaches to targeting Hyperpigmentation, from overall brightening, targeted topicals and preventative and regenerative measures. Ingredients such as Alpha Arbutin, Tranexamic Acid and Rosehip Oil are specific to targeting hyperpigmentation by focusing on lifting the specifically darkened areas whilst Vitamin C based products can brighten the overall skin tone.  Retinoids/Retinol also have a beneficial impact by speeding up the regeneration of the skin so these patches pass through the surface quicker.  

Here’s the heroes to add to your routine to take the hype out of hyperpigmentation... 

Tranexamic Acid Night Treatment


Our overnight gel treatment targets hyperpigmentation, uneven patches and dark spots and brightens your skin's complexion. This anti-inflammatory active helps to block the transfer of the melanin pigment from the melanocytes into the epidermis whilst also slowing down the over-production of the melanin. 

Formulated with 2% Tranexamic Acid, 2% Acai Berry extract to promote even skin tone, as well as 2% skin brightening hero Vitamin C, it also boosts overall skin brightness.

HOW TO USE: Use in the PM as your last step before sleep. Follow your usual skincare recipe, but replace your moisturizer step with this night treatment. Once absorbed, leave to work overnight and wash off the next morning. To help prevent dehydration we’d recommend using this treatment 2-3 nights a week so you can use moisturizer with your routine on the other nights.

Retinol bottle


When skin regeneration slows down (often impacted by age or hormones) then it takes longer for the cells to renew and can feel an even longer process for uneven tone and texture to be worked through. Retinol is your go-to ingredient for skin renewal. Predominantly aimed at helping to target the signs of ageing, it also boosts overall skin clarity and uneven skin tone for a brighter, more even complexion.

HOW TO USE: Only use Retinol in the PM. On cleansed skin apply a pea-sized amount and massage into the face and neck. Start off using it 1-2 times per week and increase gradually if your skin can tolerate more frequent use. If you have more sensitive skin, use Niacinamide before Retinol to help decrease irritation. Always use a broad spectrum SPF during the day and we recommend alternating when used alongside AHAs, BHAs and Vitamin C. 


Vitamin C is a powerful, multi-functional antioxidant and skin brightening ingredient that helps to protect skin from damage caused by environmental pollution (called free radicals). It helps to tackle the appearance of hyperpigmentation, dullness and fine lines. 

Our VITAMIN C 30% serum is formulated with 30% pure L-ascorbic Acid, to help your skin appear brighter and targets signs of aging. It also helps to protect against free radicals and pollution. Best used in the AM, the rich, creamy texture gives an instant smoothing effect, making it a great base for makeup.

Combined with plant-derived EGF, our VITAMIN C 15% + EGF serum delivers a potent dose of actives to help brighten dull skin and support natural elasticity and skin health. EGF (Epidermal Growth Factor) helps to stimulate skin cells to regenerate and refresh the dermis, enabling rejuvenated, youthful skin.​ Ascorbyl Glucoside converts to pure Vitamin C on the surface for a brighter, more even-looking complexion.

HOW TO USE: Gentle enough for daily use in AM and PM, however if only using once per day we recommend AM. On cleansed skin apply a pea-sized amount to face and neck. If you would like to use other skin care products on top, wait around 10 minutes before using them. This gives the skin cells enough time to respond to the EGF and it won't affect the cell rejuvenation process.


Alpha Arbutin is an active ingredient that limits the melanin production in your skin meaning less pigmentation. A concentrated 2% Alpha Arbutin serum helps reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation and dark spots and keep skin at an optimal hydration level.

Derived from the leaves of the bearberry plant, this serum helps to brighten the skin and improve overall skin tone. Added Squalane helps to increase skin hydration and smoothness.

HOW TO USE: Can be used in the AM and PM on cleansed skin apply a pea-sized amount to face and neck.

Fulvic Acid Brightening Cleanser bottle


Fulvic Acid is a hero at every stage of cell rejuvenation. Our gentle gel cleanser contains 0.5% Nordic Peat, naturally high in Fulvic Acid that gently exfoliates and cleanses the skin to reveal a brighter, healthy looking complexion whilst removing makeup. It helps to improve the appearance of uneven skin tone and brighten whilst soothing and calming the skin. 

HOW TO USE: Use  AM  and  PM. Gently  massage  a  small amount, the size of a raspberry onto dampened face, eyes and neck and rinse thoroughly with water.


From a preventative perspective, a good broad spectrum SPF helps prevent Hyperpigmentation from increasing in appearance and impact. SPF Sunscreen offers broad spectrum protection from both UVA and UVB rays. ​

View all products that target hyperpigmentation


  • Sun exposure and further inflammation can increase the production of melanin and the appearance of hyperpigmentation causing the prominence and spread of dark patches. Reduce your time and exposure to the sun and make sure you’re regularly topping up your SPF. 
  • Avoid picking at spots and scars which may cause further damage beneath the skin and darker patches or scarring to form. 
  • Consult a doctor or dermatologist to establish the root cause of hyperpigmentation and for alternative treatments such as chemical peels and microdermabrasion. 

Brighten up your skin care - contact the team at #askINKEY or create your own personalized routine with our Recipe Builder.

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