The best ingredients for treating pigmentation

Olivia Munn pigmentation

Plus, find out how long you’ll have to wait to see results

While many of us covet a light dusting of freckles across our faces à la Meghan Markle, the humble freckle’s bigger and badder sister, pigmentation, is not something we long for.

One of the many problems associated with pigmentation is the variety of causes – yep, too much sun exposure isn’t solely to blame for the issue! If you want to deep dive into what’s causing your uneven skin tone, check out our guide here.  

As for finding out the best ingredients and products for tackling your pigmentation, as well as how long it takes before you can expect to see results, read on.

The best ingredients for treating pigmentation

According to cosmetic chemist and founder of hop & cotton, Ee Ting Ng, “treating hyperpigmentation is a long and multi-stepped process. The best products are those with a combination of the following lightening actives that interrupt the pigmentation process in different ways. To prevent melanin production, it’s imperative you use UV filters like UVA and UVB sunscreen. To reduce melanin formation, reach for hydroquinone, arbutin, vitamin C and derivatives such as l-ascorbic acid, tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, licorice extract, kojic acid and azelaic acid. To prevent melanin transfer use niacinamide; and to increase cell renewal and turnover, opt for products formulated with alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) like glycolic, lactic and mandelic acids and vitamin A and derivatives such as retinoic acid, retinol and retinyl palmitate.”

If you’re not sure what type of products to look for, Education Specialist for Jurlique Danielle Williams explains, “a serum or essence will always be your star product, as the ingredients are highly concentrated and target your skin to reduce and regulate an overproduction of melanin.”

Some great pigmentation treatment products include Jurlique Purely White Skin Brightening Essence, Aspect Pigment Punch and Paula’s Choice RESIST Advanced Smoothing Treatment 10% AHA.

Jurlique Purely White Skin Brightening Essence

Aspect Pigment Punch

Paula’s Choice RESIST Advanced Smoothing Treatment 10% AHA

How long until you can expect to see results

Depending on what type of pigmentation you have i.e. sun spots, liver spots, wisdom warts or melasma (you can read more on the different types of pigmentation here), the time it takes to see results will vary.

However, on average Ng notes, “results usually take a few months; depending on your skin type and how diligent you are with your skin lightening routine and sunscreen.” 

Why SPF is so important

While we’re sure the importance of sunscreen has been drilled into you a million times over, we’re going to do it once more for luck. Beyond the need to apply SPF every single day – rain, hail or shine –to ensure pigmentation caused by direct sun exposure is prevented, SPF is essential for protecting your skin after using a pigmentation product as “almost all lightening ingredients make skin more susceptible to sun damage, so you will end up with either more dark spots, darkening of existing hyperpigmentation or both if you don’t apply a broad spectrum sunscreen daily,” says Ng.  

If you’re also suffering from acne-prone skin, find out whether you’re using the wrong product to wash your face and discover how long it takes for acne products to work.

What’s your favourite pigmentation-fighting product? Let us know in the comments below.

Main image credit: Getty

Kate has worked for BEAUTYcrew since early 2016, first as a contributor, before being named Beauty Writer in 2017. She loves picking the brains of the industry's top experts to get to the bottom of beauty's toughest questions. Bronze eyeshadow palettes are her weakness and she's forever on the hunt for the perfect nude nail polish to suit her fair skin. Her words can also be found in Men's Health magazine.