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Hyperpigmentation is an incredibly common skin concern that you may recognize as dark spots, sun spots or melasma. Thankfully, since it’s so common, there are several ways to target hyperpigmentation with in-office dermatologist-administered services and inexpensive over-the-counter skin care products. Among the list of skin care products are ones formulated with niacinamide, a potent ingredient that you may want to add to your regimen to help reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation.

Hyperpigmentation can affect how we feel about ourselves since it’s looked at as an imperfection. While There’s nothing wrong with having dark spots and patches like these on your face as they’re a sign of being human, we know it can be a nuisance to deal with. If you’ve tried countless skin care products and treatments for your hyperpigmentation but can’t seem to reduce it, allow this article to guide your skin care journey. 


Keep reading to learn all about niacinamide and hyperpigmentation, including the type of products that reduce these dark spots and dark patches. You’ll discover insight from highly-researched studies along with expert advice from Michelle Henry, MD FAAD, board-certified dermatologist and L’Oréal Paris consultant.


What Is Hyperpigmentation?

Breaking down the name of this condition, “hyperpigmentation” you get a straightforward definition of what it is. Per the Cleveland Clinic, hyperpigmentation describes areas of the skin that appear darker than others in spots or patches with more (hyper) color (pigment) in the affected area. 


Dr. Henry says that melasma, dark spots and sun spots are a few main forms of hyperpigmentation since all three leave behind dark marks and patches on the skin. These darkened areas may appear anywhere on the body as brown, black, or gray, the Cleveland Clinic confirms. 

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Does Hyperpigmentation Go Away?

There’s a lot of talk on social media about hyperpigmentation so naturally, there’s also a lot of incorrect information out there. Hyperpigmentation can go away on its own, per Dr. Henry, but it depends on the depth of the darkness, how much hyperpigmentation you’re dealing with and the location of it. 

The American Academy of Dermxatology (AAD) confirms dark spots and other forms of hyperpigmentation may take six to twelve months to fade, but if the discoloration is deep in the skin it may take years. Hyperpigmentation found deep in the skin will appear as slate blue to gray in color or a brown color that’s much darker than your natural skin color. Using skin care and in-office laser treatments can help speed up the fading process (more on that below). 

How Does Niacinamide Help With Hyperpigmentation?

Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3, that is included in a lot of skin care products for its brightening and anti-inflammatory properties. It has been confirmed by studies per the NCBI as an effective topical ingredient in reducing hyperpigmentation and minimizing dark spots. The topical use of niacinamide, per the NCBI, works to inhibit melanin (the substance in the body responsible for pigment) production from surfacing on the upper layer of the skin that causes visible pigmentation (aka hyperpigmentation).

You can use a concentrated niacinamide serum to help reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation. The effectiveness of this skin care ingredient will vary depending on how deep the hyperpigmentation is in your skin. If you have intense hyperpigmentation like a dark spot that won’t go away or dark patches of melasma, you may need to seek out a dermatologist for an expert-applied laser treatment that’ll penetrate the skin to reduce pigmentation. Keep in mind that any ingredient you use or service you undergo to reduce hyperpigmentation may take several sessions or weeks of use to fade dark spots. 


What Products Help With Hyperpigmentation?

A combination of skin care and in-office laser treatments (more on that below) is effective in helping reduce hyperpigmentation. There are options for all skin types based on skin tone, budget and hyperpigmentation needs. In addition to niacinamide, Dr. Henry confirms that over-the-counter skin care products with ingredients like licorice extract and kojic acid are used as lightening agents to reduce pigment in the skin. Retinol and glycolic acid, also recommended by Dr. Henry, are well-known ingredients that resurface an uneven skin tone while minimizing different forms of dark spots. If you’re trying to reduce your dark spots, try one of the below products.

L’Oréal Paris Bright Reveal 12% [Niacinamide + Amino Sulfonic + Ferulic Acid] Dark Spot Serum

If you’re looking to target dark spots (a form of hyperpigmentation) Dr. Henry recommends using a concentrated serum for the most potent form of the skin care ingredient. Try this serum, which is specifically formulated to minimize dark spots, acne scars and sun spots. 

After one week of daily use, you will be able to see a reduction in the appearance of dark spots, with skin looking clearer after two weeks. The lightweight formulation of amino sulfonic acid and ferulic acid gently exfoliates skin to even skin tone while the niacinamide soothes inflammation and helps brighten your complexion.


L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives 10% Pure Glycolic Acid Serum

Glycolic acid is another hero ingredient that Dr. Henry recommends to target dark spots. Use the chemical exfoliant in the form of this serum that absorbs quickly into the skin to even skin tone and reduce signs of aging like wrinkles, fine lines and dark spots. Add this serum to your nighttime routine and apply four to five drops to clean, dry skin and observe as dark spots lessen after one week of consistent use.

It’s best to use this serum at night as glycolic acid may increase sensitivity to the sun. You should already be wearing sunscreen every day, but that sentiment goes double when using an exfoliant like this glycolic acid serum to protect resurfacing skin.


Are Laser Treatments for Dark Spots Safe?

As stated previously, skin care products alone may not completely reduce hyperpigmentation on the skin. Dr. Henry confirms that there are many laser services available to target pigment. “They vary based on your skin type: If you have darker skin we need lasers that can differentiate between [the hyperpigmentation] and the darker pigment of skin,” she says.


Laser treatments are safe for targeting dark spots, however, they can be painful. Many laser treatment professionals describe these types of treatments as as irritating as a rubber band snapping repeatedly on the skin. But If you’re looking for a more permanent result, the NCBI recommends laser treatments, as they have been proven to minimize relapsing melasma and other dark marks.


Next: 3 Reasons You Should Be Using Niacinamide for Skin


Photo Courtesy of L'Oréal Paris, Photo Design: Sarah Duvivier

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