Latin Skin Is More Susceptible to Hyperpigmentation—Here’s What to Do

Updated 06/14/19
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Everyone’s skin is susceptible to developing uneven tone and brown spots. In fact, most will, to some extent, with age (don’t worry—more on that below). You’ve probably experienced a degree of discoloration, perhaps after a particularly troubling pimple? However, Latinas have even more to watch out for, as Latin skin is more prone to developing hyperpigmentation.

Keep reading to find out why and what you can do about it!

Dr. Dendy Engelman, NuGene advisory board member and director of Dermatological Surgery at New York Medical College, says Latin Americans and Hispanics are prone to an increased incidence of melasma and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. “Latina skin—as with anyone with darker features—is more prone to pigmentation because they have a tendency to produce more pigment in response to injury, whether it’s sun damage or picking at a pimple,” Dr. Engelman says.

“When exposed to UV light, the body produces melanin as a measure of self-protection. The immune system remedies some of the damage, but eventually, unfixable buildup starts to accumulate in the form of hyperpigmentation (a.k.a. dark spots),” says Dr. Craig Kraffert, board-certified dermatologist and president of Amarte. Dr. Engelman adds that hyperpigmention can result from a number of different injuries to the skin. “Dark spots are different from large splotchy areas (those bigger patches around your lips, cheeks, and forehead are called melasma) and they are particularly apparent in people who have faced teenage acne, but a host of culprits—hormonal changes, pimples, rashes, cuts, scars, or anything else that causes inflammation—and sun exposure can lead to uneven skin tone.”

In a word, the prevention plan is sunscreen. “There is a misconception that just because you have darker skin, sunscreen becomes optional. The truth is that regardless of how much melanin one has, nobody is immune to the sun’s rays,” Says Dr. Engelman. The derms agree that sunscreen and antioxidants are the most important tools in preventing dark spots. “Antioxidants, whether ingested or applied via topical skincare products, are proven to protect against free-radical damage, including harsh UV rays,” says Dr. Kraffert, who also added that in addition to your face, you can’t forget those frequently exposed areas like your neck, upper chest, and hands when applying your skincare productions.

To boost skin’s natural defense and keep hyperpigmentation at bay, Dr. Engelman recommends Elizabeth Arden’s Superstart Skin Renewal Booster Serum ($95) and (the editor favorite) SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Acid ($166).

If you already hyperpigmentation, don’t worry—it’s possible to lighten your dark spots. “Brown spots can be treated with topical creams including melanin production inhibitors like hydroquinone and arbutin to brighten the skin,” says Dr. Kraffert. He recommends Amarte’s Aqua Lotion ($75) because it contains arubtin and other skin-brightening botanical extracts. The pros also recommend lasers. “Start with NuGene Light & Bright Gel ($125) for an overall brightening, and to spot treat, I recommend lasers like PicoSure, which targets hyperpigmentation with picosecond and pressure-wave technology (imagine how it shatters tattoo ink into sand size so your body is able to absorb the pigment),” Dr. Engelman says.

“Also, Environ Revival Masques [available at dermatologist offices] contain lactic acid (which increases the look of hydration in the skin and is known to lighten the appearance of irregular pigmentation or uneven skin tone) and mandelic acid (which assists in rejuvenating the appearance of uneven, pigmented areas).” The bottom line? Make sure your routine includes sunscreen, antioxidants, and skin-brightening acids.

Have you experienced hyperpigmentation? What’s worked for you? Tell us below!

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