Uneven skin tone

WIMJ Guide

Uneven skin tone, also called hyperpigmentation, acne marks, age spots happens because of how our skin produces melanin. Melanin is a natural skin pigment in the top layer of our skin (the epidermis). Our skin cell produce it as a reaction to sun exposure. It is what makes skin appear to be “tan” during the summer. Melanin protects the skin from some of the sun damage. For caucasian skin, a "tan" provides a sun protection factor (SPF) of about 4. (Compare it to a sunscreen lotion of SPF 50 - it still makes sense to use sunscreen even if you have a tan).

Melanin in skin can gather together and get unevenly distributed in skin. This is how we get patches of uneven skin color, age spots and marks in places of old wounds like acne spots or mosquito bites.

This can happen to people regardless of age and skin colour. At the same time, skin discolorations appear more often as we get older.

There are factors that often trigger overproduction or uneven production of melanin in skin. Hormones can do it. This is why women often struggle with pigmentation during and after pregnancy, and in menopause. Avoiding sun helps reduce the chance of getting pigmentation issues during these periods.

Our skin can also react with more melanin production where it is wounded. For example, people can get marks where there was an inflammation, irritation or a scratch before. Sometimes we get darker marks for weeks, if not months after wounds and blemishes heal. Here again sun exposure makes the pigmentation darker and more persistent.

Often skin "heals" the areas of uneven skin tone itself. For example, in most cases, post-acne dark marks fade and disappear with time. This is why it is sometimes difficult to assess an effect of anti-pigmentation skincare: did the serum help, or did the dark spot fade on its own?

Skincare that targets pigmentation can work in a few different ways. Some ingredients can get into deeper layers of the skin and make cells produce less melanin. Ingredients like hydroquinone, arbutin, kojic acid, azelaic acid, L-ascorbic acid, ellagic acid, tranexamic acid work this way (in dermatology, they are called "tyrosinase-inhibitors"). Other ingredients, like the anti-oxidant from green tea epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) can make skin store less melanin.

Exfoliating products with ingredients like glycolic acid, lactic acid, gluconolactone, salicylic acid can help speed up the natural fading of the uneven pigment. They remove the surface layer of the skin cells. This way skin gets to shed the cells with bigger melanin deposits faster.

Retinoids help with pigmentation in a couple of ways at once. They can reduce the melanin production, its storage, and speed up the skin cell turnover.

An effective skincare regimen for reducing hyperpigmentation includes:

  1. A broad spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 and above;

  2. A serum or lotion with actives that helps reduce melanin production and storage (like hydroquinone, vitamin C or a retinoid);

  3. Exfoliating serum, lotion or toner 1-3 times per week if the skin tolerates it well.

Actives that work for reducing pigmentation can be irritating. It is a big risk to watch out for because skin irritation can lead to more pigmentation. This is why high concentrations of anti-pigment actives is not always a good thing. Your anti-pigment products need to be as potent as your skin can take without irritation.

Latest discussions

Malinalina
5 days ago

I have no clue what to use because there is so many to choose from!! Please help

I really want to add the best products, I really am not informed on anything facial please help me reform a routine!

AM - Every other day
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Dead Sea Minerals & Vitamin C Complex Toning Skin Serum Dead Sea Minerals & Vitamin C Complex Toning Skin Serum
PM - Every other day
1
Dead Sea Minerals & Vitamin C Complex Toning Skin Serum Dead Sea Minerals & Vitamin C Complex Toning Skin Serum
2
Sleep Tight Firming Night Balm Sleep Tight Firming Night Balm
3
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Malinalina
5 days ago

I need new routine fast.

Please help!! I'm 27 and need a better skin care routine. Best products for dry skin and dark spots I have been tanning for years.

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Best ingredients for hyperpigmentation

NIACINAMIDE


Works for
  • Anti-aging
  • Moisturizing
  • Evens skin tone
  • Anti-blemish
  • Reduces irritation
  • Reduces redness
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antibacterial
Irritancy risk
LOW

Appears on 3 avoid lists
Included in 1002 skincare routines

Summary

Is proven to be effective in reducing blemishes, evening out skin tone and helping to improve lines and wrinkles. It helps the skin to repair sun damage, calm down inflammation and keep maintain good levels of moisture

LACTIC ACID


Works for
  • Exfoliation
  • Moisturizing
  • Evens skin tone
  • Anti-aging
Irritancy risk
MEDIUM

Appears on 2 avoid lists
Included in 556 skincare routines

Summary

An exfoliating and moisturizing alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA). Typically causes less irritation than other AHAs, for example, glycolic acid. At high concentrations (about 15%), lactic acid can help reduce lines and wrinkles. Recent studies show that lactic acid can support the "good" bacteria living on skin's surface (healthy skin microbiom)

GLYCOLIC ACID


Works for
  • Anti-aging
  • Exfoliation
  • Evens skin tone
  • Anti-blemish
Irritancy risk
HIGH

Appears on 3 avoid lists
Included in 389 skincare routines

Summary

An alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) that helps to remove the dead skin cells on the surface of the skin reveling a more even, smoother complexation. It is also able to stimulate collagen production with long-term use. Could help to reduce pore congestion. It can be irritating to the skin. Apply sunscreen daily if using products with glycolic acid

ASCORBIC ACID

Other name: Vitamin C

Works for
  • Anti-aging
  • Anti-oxidation
  • Evens skin tone
Irritancy risk
HIGH

Appears on 3 avoid lists
Included in 366 skincare routines

Summary

The most well-researched antioxidant that works in skin. Helps neutralize free radicals supporting collagen production, helping to even out the skin tone and preventing early signs of aging

RETINOL

Other name: Retinoid, derivative of vitamin A

Works for
  • Anti-blemish
  • Anti-oxidation
  • Exfoliation
  • Anti-aging
  • Evens skin tone
  • Mattifying
  • Sun protection
Irritancy risk
HIGH

Appears on 5 avoid lists
Included in 321 skincare routines

Summary

Two steps removed from the active form of vitamin A - retinoic acid. Once converted to the retinoic acid in the skin, retinol is proven to be effective against all signs of aging. It improves skin cell turnover, helps fight blemishes and clogged pores, can regulate excess oil production and even skin tone. It can, however, be quite irritating

GLUCONOLACTONE


Works for
  • Anti-aging
  • Exfoliation
  • Moisturizing
  • Evens skin tone
  • Anti-oxidation
  • Anti-blemish
Irritancy risk
MEDIUM

Appears on 0 avoid lists
Included in 224 skincare routines

Summary

A polyhydroxy acid (PHA) that helps shed the dead cells from the skin surface revealing smoother skin. Is believed to be genter than AHAs. It helps attract water to the upper layer of the skin and can stimulate production of skin's own hyaluronic acid resulting in improved hydration levels. It has been shown to be helpful against acne and clogged pores if used consistently (e.g over a period of 12 weeks) in high enough concentration. It can help reduce fine lines and wrinkles and improve skin tone with long-term application. Can help neutralize free radicals

TETRAHEXYLDECYL ASCORBATE


Works for
  • Anti-aging
  • Evens skin tone
  • Anti-oxidation
Irritancy risk
MEDIUM

Appears on 0 avoid lists
Included in 212 skincare routines

Summary

Being a lipid soluble form of vitamin C. It is more stable than ascorbic acid, but still degrades quickly and needs to be stabilized in a formulation with another ingredient. It is claimed to penetrate skin better than pure vitamin C and have the the similar benefits, but solid studies of its effectiveness are lacking. Is likely to require a higher concentration in a product than pure vitamin C to be effective.

AZELAIC ACID


Works for
  • Anti-oxidation
  • Evens skin tone
  • Anti-blemish
  • Exfoliation
Irritancy risk
LOW

Appears on 0 avoid lists
Included in 118 skincare routines

Summary

Is produced by a yeast that lives on normal human skin. It is used in medicine as a topical treatment for mild to moderate acne. It has a mild exfoliating effect. It can also help reduce hyperpigmentation, helps calm down inflammation and can help neutralize free radicals

ACETYL GLUCOSAMINE


Works for
  • Anti-aging
  • Moisturizing
  • Evens skin tone
  • Exfoliation
Irritancy risk
LOW

Appears on 0 avoid lists
Included in 96 skincare routines

Summary

An effective moisturizing ingredient that also has been shown to be effective in evening out the skin tone and reducing hyperpigmentation. It can help somewhat reduce wrinkles in skin

BAKUCHIOL


Works for
  • Anti-aging
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anti-oxidation
  • Evens skin tone
  • Anti-blemish
Irritancy risk
MEDIUM

Appears on 2 avoid lists
Included in 96 skincare routines

Summary

A plant extract that is, though different in chemical structure, acts similar to retinoids. First studies show that it can help reduce fine lines and wrinkles, improve skin tone, reduce clogged pores and blemishes, and reduce inflammation. There is no conclusive evidence that bakuchiol is as effective as retinol however. The study that directly compared retinol with bakuchiol used bakuchiol applied twice daily compared to once per day for the retinol. According to this study, bakuchiol is less irritating than retinol. Bakuchiol is extracted from seeds of Babchi plant. Other parts of the plant contain coumarins that could cause allergic and irritant reactions. These compounds should be removed in the extraction process when bakuchiol is produced, but it is a good idea to be cautious and stay away from products that include the Babchi plant extracts other than purified bakuchiol to avoid irritation

Best products for hyperpigmentation

WORKS FOR
  • Anti-aging
  • Anti-oxidation
  • Exfoliation
  • Evens skin tone
  • Anti-blemish
  • Moisturizing
  • +3 more
KEY INGREDIENTS
  • azelaic acid
  • salicylic acid
  • bakuchiol
  • niacinamide
  • azelaic acid
  • bakuchiol
  • hydroxypinacolone retinoate
  • allantoin
  • cetearyl alcohol
  • glycerin
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  • squalane
  • +9 more
PROMISES
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WORKS FOR
  • Anti-aging
  • Exfoliation
  • Evens skin tone
  • Anti-blemish
  • Moisturizing
  • +2 more
KEY INGREDIENTS
  • glycolic acid
  • salicylic acid
  • glycolic acid
  • allantoin
  • caprylic/capric triglyceride
  • glycerin
  • kaolin
  • sodium hyaluronate
  • squalane
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PROMISES
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100 /100
IRRITANCY
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WORKS FOR
  • Anti-aging
  • Anti-oxidation
  • Exfoliation
  • Moisturizing
  • Evens skin tone
  • Anti-blemish
  • +3 more
KEY INGREDIENTS
  • salicylic acid
  • gluconolactone
  • gluconolactone
  • lactic acid
  • caprooyl phytosphingosine
  • caprooyl sphingosine
  • ceramide ap
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  • +20 more
PROMISES
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100 /100
IRRITANCY
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WORKS FOR
  • Anti-aging
  • Exfoliation
  • Moisturizing
  • Evens skin tone
  • Anti-blemish
  • +2 more
KEY INGREDIENTS
  • salicylic acid
  • lactic acid
  • tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate
  • acetyl glucosamine
  • algae extract
  • arginine
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  • caffeine
  • cetyl alcohol
  • dimethicone
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  • hypnea musciformis extract
  • kaolin
  • laminaria saccharina extract
  • molasses extract
  • peg/ppg-18/18 dimethicone
  • phospholipids
  • polysilicone-11
  • pyrus malus fruit extract
  • saccharum officinarum extract
  • sea whip extract
  • silica
  • sodium hyaluronate
  • squalane
  • sucrose
  • trehalose
  • triticum vulgare germ extract
  • zinc pca
  • +25 more
PROMISES
FULFILLED
100 /100
IRRITANCY
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WORKS FOR
  • Cleansing
  • Exfoliation
  • Anti-blemish
KEY INGREDIENTS
  • salicylic acid
  • panthenol
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  • glycerin
  • glyceryl stearate se
  • +2 more
PROMISES
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WORKS FOR
  • Exfoliation
  • Anti-blemish
KEY INGREDIENTS
  • salicylic acid
  • benzophenone-4
  • glycerin
  • hamamelis virginiana extract
  • sodium hyaluronate
  • trehalose
  • +3 more
PROMISES
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100 /100
IRRITANCY
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Appears in   94 routines
WORKS FOR
  • Anti-aging
  • Exfoliation
  • Evens skin tone
  • Anti-blemish
  • +1 more
KEY INGREDIENTS
  • glycolic acid
  • salicylic acid
  • lactic acid
  • panthenol
  • glycerin
  • sodium hyaluronate crosspolymer
  • tartaric acid
  • +4 more
PROMISES
FULFILLED
100 /100
IRRITANCY
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WORKS FOR
  • Exfoliation
  • Anti-blemish
  • Moisturizing
KEY INGREDIENTS
  • salicylic acid
  • glycerin
PROMISES
FULFILLED
100 /100
IRRITANCY
HIGH
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WORKS FOR
  • Cleansing
  • Exfoliation
  • Anti-blemish
KEY INGREDIENTS
  • salicylic acid
  • cetearyl alcohol
  • cetyl palmitate
  • helianthus annuus seed oil
  • kaolin
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  • olea europaea fruit oil
  • +4 more
PROMISES
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100 /100
IRRITANCY
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Appears in   1 routine
WORKS FOR
  • Cleansing
  • Exfoliation
  • Anti-blemish
KEY INGREDIENTS
  • salicylic acid
  • panthenol
  • carnosine
  • glycerin
  • hydrated silica
  • +2 more
PROMISES
FULFILLED
100 /100
IRRITANCY
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