How to Treat Hyperpigmentation or Sun Damage

With summer upon us, pigmentation is a reality for many of my patients, this may appear in the form of dark spots, sun spots or melasma. Despite our best efforts of sun avoidance, hats, and religious SPF application, for many skin types, pigmentation will still form. I often get asked if it is worth treating pigment in the summer time and the answer is YES! If you neglect to work on pigment through the summer months you will be left with a way harder job to do in the fall. The best thing you can do is stay on top of it. Once summer ends and the skin becomes less sun exposed you will see another boost in results. So what is the best way to combat pigment during the summer? I’m going to tell you! First…

Why Medical Grade skincare?

In medical grade skincare, the formulation of the products are scientifically designed to penetrate into the skin and to be able to yield real results. There are no fillers – just high quality, active products that WORK. These products contain the perfect mix of active products in a formulation that can be delivered with minimal to no irritation. That is what you are paying for. I wholeheartedly believe that you will get better results by buying 1 pricier product than you would by buying 5 bottles of the drug store version. Once you invest you’ll know it’s worth it! 

The Trifecta – SPF, Vitamin C, & Pigment Products

Pigment Supportive Products

For those who are more prone to hyperpigmentation or discoloration like freckling/sun damage or melasma, a tyrosinase inhibitor aka pigment blocker should be used as part of your daily skincare routine, year round!. Tyrosinase is an enzyme which activates melanin synthesis melanin is the chromophore (or colour) in our skin. To put it simply, pigment blockers help prevent the future production of pigment by inhibiting melanin. Some of the best tyrosinase inhibitors include Kojic Acid (Koji-C Pads), Hydroquinone (Koji-C Pads), Phytic & Lactic acid (Lumify Pads), and Ascorbic Acid (Radiant Vitamin C Serum). 

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that can be used topically to treat and prevent changes associated with photoageing (sun damage). It can also be used for the treatment of hyperpigmentation. Because it is unstable and difficult to deliver into the dermis in the optimum dosage, it is SO important to make sure your vitamin C is medical grade. Formulation is what is unique. It is due to the water/oil emulsion getting a Vitamin C formula right takes a lot of research and trial and error. The companies that make medical grade vit C product have the budgets and labs and Doctors to do that work! I recommend Radiant Vitamin C Serum which is oil-based, making it very stable which helps with penetration. L-Ascorbic acid is at 21% which means it’s a high dosed, stable antioxidant. Certain molecules love water, and certain molecules love oil. L-ascorbic is water loving and our body is naturally oily, therefore this specific formulation in an oil emulsion with 1% salicyclic acid will penetrate best without causing irritation. This makes it great for all skin types. Our vitamin C is non acidic again, due to the unique formulation. Truly an amazing product!

Sunscreen

SPF, every day, all year no matter what. Did you hear me?! If you ignore this rule it’s not IF you get sun damage it’s WHEN it starts to show up. I recommend a minimum SPF 30 and 2 applications a day. 

I’d say the number 1 reason people don’t wear sunscreen is that they don’t want to smell like they are on their Mexico vacation and they don’t want it to make their skin look ashy. Many do not absorb well. But I know you are putting on a moisturizer in the morning so you might as well be added a high quality SPF to that routine. 

My personal favorite is is Elta MD UV Clear 46. It blends as well as your foundation, and actually the tinted version could replace your foundation all together! It’s also super lightweight and oil-free. When you are looking for an SPF make sure it has zinc oxide! This is what will protect you from the UVA and UVB rays. 

Trust me I don’t want to use an SPF that stays on my nose all day either. The Elta MD SPF is more than just sunscreen it also has a few acids which will help with skin texture and tone. 

EXAMPLE OF A SKINCARE PLAN FOR BATTLING PIGMENT FROM SUN OR MELASMA 

I wanted to give you a real life regime for what using products to help reverse pigment changes and melasma would look like. I had melasma after my pregnancy it did take diligence to reverse it but these products work, I can tell you first hand! This regimen that I’ve shared below would also work great for PIH – Post Inflammatory Pigmentation AKA little dark spots left behind acne.

AM Skin Routine for Pigment Correction

  1. Cleanse with a gentle cleanser. I love our RFA Gentle Foaming Cleanser!
  2. Radiant Vitamin C Serum – Apply 3-4 drops to a clean face. Brush your teeth while you also it soak in and then move on to your SPF.
  3. SPF – Don’t forget this step, especially a morning after the pads! 

PM Skin Routine for Pigment Correction

  1. Cleanse
  2. Alternate each night with Koji-C Pads & Lumify Pads for that 1-2 punch!

Pro Tips for Reversing Sun Damage or Pigmentation 

  1. Do not moisturize on top of the Koji-C pads at night. The pads contain glycerin that will hydrate and be most effective without moisturizer on top
  2. Do moisturize on nights you are not using pads. I love the HydraLipid Moisturizer for more dry skin and the HA Peptide Serum for more oily skin types.
  3. Consider mixing in our Rescue Cream for more sensitive skin. A thin layer of this hydrocortisone aloe vera cream on top of the pads the first few weeks will help you through any purging or sensitivity
  4. For an alternative to Koji-C Pads, use Hydroquinone which can be found in our Lumify pads. The Lumify pads are great to mix in from time to time. You can alternate between these and Koji-C pads.
  5. For a boost, use retinol right on top of your Lumify Pads. This drives the Lumify pads in deeper and aids in anti-aging. 

Questions, Help, Recommendations!? I do complimentary consulting and ship all over the USA! Fill out the skincare form on my blog. 

Happy Summer Everyone!

XO Racquel

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Racquel Frisella

Board Certified Nurse Practitioner & Aesthetic Specialist based in Saint Louis, Missouri

I work as a cosmetic injector and skincare specialist with 12 years of experience in the Aesthetic Industry. I see patients both in-office at Racquel Aesthetics for treatments as well as online for customized, complimentary skincare plans. I focus heavily on preventative and corrective injections, treatments, and skincare.  My career is my passion and I love to help people feel like the very best version of themselves. I am a wife and a mother of 3 beautiful children under the age of 3. I love all things beauty, fashion, and fitness. I am creating this site as a place to share my expertise on beauty, anti-aging, and skin while also giving a glimpse into my lifestyle as a mom, wife and lover of fitness!  

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