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What's Hyperpigmentation? Your Need to Know on How to Treat It

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Hyperpigmentation was one of those scary things I worried about the first time I got pregnant. The world just loves to scare pregnant ladies. 

No soft cheese. No changing cat litter. No sushi. (No sushi?!) 

All the dos and don’ts and side effects and possible scares. The first time I had an ocular migraine, I thought I was losing my mind. 

Fortunately, I did not suffer from hyperpigmentation as a result of either pregnancy. I have dealt with it a bit from small scars from childhood and from acne I picked at far too much, though, and it can be a pain to try to remove. 

As a naturopath and herbalist, I have always focused on natural treatments and resolutions, plant-based preventions, and healing techniques. I worry that getting chemicals and lasers involved creates dependency and has nasty side effects that can often be worse than the thing I am attempting to treat. 

Thus, you will find here all my research on what hyperpigmentation is and how to fix it naturally. If you want to seek out more allopathic remedies, you will get no judgment from me. You just will not find guidance on that approach in this article. 

Table of Contents:

  • What's Hyperpigmentation?
  • 5 Ways to Treat Hyperpigmentation Naturally
  • A Word on the Natural versus the Allopathic Approach
  • Plant-Based Products to Try for Hyperpigmentation

    What's Hyperpigmentation?

    The literal definition of hyperpigmentation is the darkening of the skin—hyper, meaning extra, and pigment, meaning skin color. 

    Most often, we see hyperpigmentation in the form of dark skin spots, splotches, or patches. Sometimes, people are born with darker splotches of skin, but this version of hyperpigmentation, known as Familial Progressive Hyperpigmentation, is extremely rare. 

    The three types we typically see are: 

    • Melasma – the kind that occurs during pregnancy as a result of hormonal changes. Dark skin patches show up on the face and hands most often and usually go away after delivery. 
    • Sunspots – these splotches are commonly referred to as liver spots as well. They show up as a result of long-term sun exposure over a lifetime and get darker and more frequent as you age. 
    • Scarring and Injury – As a result of scar tissue forming, some people will get dark patches or spots on their skin in place of scars. 

    5 Ways to Treat Hyperpigmentation Naturally

    1. Apple Cider Vinegar

    If you know me at all, you had to know I was going to bring apple cider vinegar into this conversation. It is one of my all-time favorite remedies. Apple cider vinegar works to lighten skin because of its acetic acid. 

    Dilute the apple cider with an equal amount of water and apply the solution to your dark patches. Wait a few minutes and rinse. Repeat twice a day. 

    apple cider vinegar


    2. Aloe Vera

    The aloin in aloe vera also has a lightening effect. It is helpful to also have an aloe vera plant in the kitchen as it is another favorite healing product good for so many remedies. 

    With aloe vera, you will apply to dark patches at night before bed and leave it on overnight. Rinse in the morning and repeat daily. 

    3. Milk or Buttermilk 

    Who knew, right?

    Milk and buttermilk contain lactic acid, which has been shown to lighten skin discoloration. 

    Apply milk or buttermilk to your dark spots twice a day, every day, until you notice your skin lightening. 

    4. Tomato Paste

    The only home remedy I knew of for tomato paste was getting rid of a skunk stink from a dog. 

    Yep. It works. 

    It also works on hyperpigmentation.

    The lycopene in tomato paste can heal dark splotches. The trick here is that you must consume it. A study found participants who ate tomato paste every day for 12 weeks noticed significant lightening. 

    5. Exfoliate

    You can also, in the end, choose an exfoliant or vitamin C cream of your choice and apply regularly. Over time, the layers of your skin will fall away and reveal fresher, newer, lighter skin underneath the darker patches. 

    Invest in one that will make you feel good about this act of self-care, and then build the exfoliant or cream into your daily and weekly routine. 

    A Word on the Natural versus the Allopathic Approach

    I just like to clarify my position on naturopathy versus allopathic medicine. 

    I love naturopathy because of its ability to help us heal and prevent illness in the long term in a way that carries little to no risk. The western world has become highly dependent on our medical system, and we have become addicted to pharmaceuticals at an alarming rate. 

    If you can build a lifestyle that allows you to eat whole foods, move your body more, and get good sleep, you can usually solve a lot of problems. 

    plants, medical plants, pharmaceutical plants

    Having said that, I love advanced medicine (allopathic medicine) for its immediate and lifesaving abilities. If I have an emergency, I am in acute pain, or I have a chronic condition I cannot resolve, I seek the help of an allopathic, or preferably an osteopathic doctor. 

    My point, in the end, is that each of us must make an individual choice, and I respect that. I also support the natural approach whenever possible because we have enough evidence to show that approach benefits everyone. 

    Plant-Based Products to Try for Hyperpigmentation

    If you are looking for some all-natural, plant-based, cruelty-free products to invest in now for hyperpigmentation, check out the links below.

    Vitamin C Face Serum

    Vitamin C is well known to lighten skin discoloration, and this serum is chock-full of the good stuff. 

    It has been dermatologically tested and shows a real difference in hyperpigmentation with just a few drops. 

    wow skin science, wow skin vitamin C, vitamin C serum, wow skin vitamin C serum, buywow

     

    Vitamin C Face Cream

    The cream supports the serum, and you can apply it to your whole face to even out skin tone. 

    Ubtan Face and Body Scrub

    I love an exfoliant I can apply to my face and body, and this one is wonderful! It contains natural exfoliants as well as healing vitamins. 

    Essential Oils

    Essential oils are a relaxing addition to any mixture you are concocting at home. 

    Check out the variety at the link above, and think about adding it to your milk solution or even your aloe vera before applying it to the face. Experiment with different ingredients to see what works for you. 

    Click the links above and browse the descriptions and ingredients lists. You are sure to find something, or many things, to love.

    Shanna Mendez

    Shanna Mathews Mendez is a freelance writer and blogger on topics related to self-care, naturopathy, female empowerment, and motherhood. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and children, where she enjoys traveling, being active outdoors, and studying herbalism and plant-based remedies in her free time. Drawing on her graduate degree in comparative literature and her own life experiences, she is currently writing her first book. She can be found online at her website thewordywitch.com

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