How to live with skin pigmentation

Guest post: how to live with skin pigmentation

Kim-Marie WilliamsBeauty, How to 56 Comments

Skin pigmentation, hyperpigmentation, chloasma, dark spots, mask of pregnancy, melasma, age spots, pimple scarring, sun damage … whatever it is called, we don’t like it and we don’t want it on our faces.

I first noticed pigmentation in my early 20s – a darkened patch of skin around my orbital bone under my eyes, and even more embarrassingly, a dark patch above my top lip that looked like five o’clock shadow.

Just the sort of look every girl dreams of – not!

It got worse again in my mid 20s when I developed polycystic ovary syndrome and my hormones went psychotic.  When I became pregnant, it was even more pronounced with splashes of dark patches on my forehead, eyes, mouth and chin.

Looking back over the years, every time my hormones had a wobble, my skin developed pigmentation.

It’s not pretty and it’s not desirable and it’s not easy to get rid of.  It takes time, a bit of effort and SPF.  Lots of SPF!

The way I deal with my skin pigmentation is to follow a simple four-step skincare and makeup regime.

How to live with skin pigmentation

Step 1

Use a good exfoliator to encourage skin renewal.  Something with enzyme or alpha hydroxy acids is best.

Recommended products:

ExfoliKate by Kate Somerville

Ren Glycolactic Radiance Renewal Mask

Step 2

Treat the skin pigmentation with a quality product specifically designed to correct dark spots.

You’re looking for something with ingredients like alpha hydroxy, lactic, citric and salicylic acids, which increase skin turnover to shed pigmentation in surface layers of the skin.  Dermatologists can prescribe hydroquinone but many people experience skin irritation.

Recommended products:

Ultraceuticals Even Skintone Serum

Ultraceuticals Ultra Brightening Serum

Clinique Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector

Garnier Dark Spot Corrector

Step 3

SPF, SPF, SPF!  I cannot stress this point strongly enough.  You want at least  SPF 25+ and it needs to be applied to the skin after cleansing and/or toning and reapplied during the day. Almost every product I put on my face in the morning has some level of sun protection factor.  I find it hard to reapply a cream or lotion during the day because it messes up my makeup (I’m vain like that) so I avoid the sun during peak UV times and pat on some tinted sunscreen.  In the height of summer, I use a spray sunscreen on my face (just close my eyes and don’t breathe in while applying!).

Using the exfoliating and treatment products to encourage skin turnover also makes the skin sun sensitive, so it is even more important to use a quality sunscreen daily.  Avoid being in full sunlight when the UV level is highest (usually between 10am to 3pm) and slip, slop, slap.  Wear quality sunglasses with a Category 3 lens and wear a hat when you’re out and about.  Be careful about the perfumes you wear and where you apply them, as sun can react with the ingredients and cause pigmentation on your skin.

Recommended products:

Ultraceuticals Protective Daily Moisturiser SPF 30+

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Daily Face SPF 30+

Shiseido Sun Protection Stick Foundation

Step 4

Makeup is also a weapon in my arsenal to deal with skin pigmentation.

I work a good combination of concealers to cover pigmentation.  A lovely creamy one for under the eyes, and one with a firmer consistency for other areas of your face like forehead, mouth and chin.  Concealers with SPF are an even better choice.

Recommended products:

Covergirl and Olay Simply Ageless Concealer

BECCA Compact Concealer

For the pigmentation on my orbital bones, I take my blusher a little bit higher on my cheekbone which blurs the pigmentation.

Highlighters and illuminators brighten the area for pigmentation on your forehead and around your cheekbones.  They are not advised anywhere else on the face!

Recommended products:

Australis Colour Corrector in Gold

BECCA Illuminate Wash

I find a good hydrating foundation blurs skin imperfections. And I buff mineral powder over the pigmented areas.

Recommended products:

Illamasqua Skin Base Foundation

Australis Paparazzi Perfect High Definition Foundation

BECCA Stick Foundation

bareMinerals Matte SPF 15 foundation

The other thing that worked for me was visiting my GP for a referral to an endocrinologist and developing a hormone management plan.

For me, the trigger for skin pigmentation is unbalanced hormones.  Without sorting this aspect out, any topical applications won’t have the same effect.  But everyone is different.

Your skin pigmentation may be from scarring from picking at a pimple, or perhaps sun damage.  Unfortunately, you can’t treat pigmentation while you’re pregnant.

There are further professional treatments that you can have done to treat hyperpigmentation such as IPL or Fraxel, and beauty salon treatments.

I haven’t tried laser treatment, and I’ve found that I’ve achieved better results using really good quality products at home regularly than committing to an expensive series of facials.  Although, if you have the spare cash, please go right ahead because a regular treatment will help and visiting a day spa is just a lovely experience and will make you feel fantastic.

If you’ve never experienced pigmentation, then I’m very pleased for you.  Go and buy yourself a lottery ticket because you’re a very lucky person!  For all the rest of you in the pigmentation boat with me, I hope some of these tips work for you.

I’d love to hear about your experiences and how you deal with pigmentation.


You can find Kim-Marie at, her blog featuring her deeply shallow musings about Family : Fashion : Frivolity. Kim-Marie is a dedicated follower of fashion, a beauty junkie and an op shopper extraordinaire.  She loves a cocktail hat as much as a cocktail and never leaves the house without lipgloss.

Editor’s note: I’m very grateful this week to have some fabulous guest blog posts to publish here on Styling You as I get over my US adventure and a big combination of jetlag and post-holiday blues.


Comments 56

  1. I have hyper pigmentation above my upper lip and it looks like I have a mustache. I’ve used dermalmd skin lightening serum a little over a month and I can already tell a difference. I highly recommend dermalmd serum for skin pigmentation.

  2. Hi. Im NOT coping! I hate what my skin looks like! I was always admired for my flawless skin but now I have pigmentation around my eyes n above my upper lip it looks gross! N my eyebrows dont wanna grow!! I used to shave them….. I started getting this dark marks two years ago. I tried rememdies n OTC creams but still it seems to be getting darker. I dont go outside now if I can help it! Im so upset,although hubby see I look fine. Im 48years old. I also resorted to wearing foundation n hat n sunglasses. I really prefer a bag over my head!

    1. Oh, that’s no good. I find the stuff around my eyes I can deal with better because I can disguise it with concealer AND blush AND highlighter etc, but the stuff around your mouth can look like five o’clock shadow.

      If you’re really unhappy, I would consult a dermatologist and talk to them about Fraxl or other laser treatments. x

  3. The color in our skin and hair is because of melanin which is produced by the melanocytes. But it has been recently shown than the behavior of melanocytes can be modified by manipulating keratinocytes which do not have any pigment of their own.

  4. Thank you for sharing these steps. I will follow them and if they won’t be useful for me, I will go for a pigmentation removal treatment by Dr. Edelstein, because I really want to get rid of this annoying problem. Once again thank you and I will be back!

  5. I’ve had skin pigmentation issues too and about 3 years ago I found a beauty therapist who’s been a lifesaver in her facial treatments. And yes, agreed…SPF all the way, baby!!!

    1. Oh, I’m so glad about that, Grace! I just kept getting conflicting advice about my pigmentation from beauty therapists, unfortunately. It was actually Zoe Foster and her love of Ultraceuticals serum that got me on the right track, after all those years!

  6. I have tones of skin pigmentation.. I’ve always been very freckly and as I’ve got older I’ve developed some bigger spots. I’m so rubbish with make up though. I always wear sun screen/moisturiser but that’s pretty much it. Maybe I should get you to give me a makeover!

    1. Yup. I think I replied to your comment on Woogsworld about bright lipstick? If you’re already doing moisturiser, chuck on some BB cream instead. You’ll get SPF, evening of skintone and other benefits. Get a bright lipstick. I think rose pink or coral would be nice on you. Then you can dab a bit on the apples of your cheeks and pat, pat, pat it in. No worries about coordinating then. Brush your brows, curl your lashes (I recommend tinting if you can get the time – 20 minutes a month), then pat on some under eye concealer. It will take mere moments and you’ll look like you, just with a bit of ta da! Let me know how it goes! x

  7. I have pigmentation around my jaw line/neck area, and use a flesh coloured stick sun screen that is for surfers; very tough and blocks out the UV big time; and I love the Clique City Block too; Never leave home without putting both on, and I have my husband on the Invisible Zinc daywear cream, which he loves. We recently moved to North Queensland and the sun here can be fierce… So its a hat, SPF 30 Sunscreen, water and lipgloss that I carry at all times.

  8. I have skin pigmentation (cafe au lait marks) from a genetic disease , not much works on some areas. I will try some of these ideas thanks Kim-Marie.

  9. I am prone to pigmentation spots mostly around my cheekbone/eye area; for me it was from too much time in the sun growing up. When I go for my yearly freckle check at the dermatologists he freezes them off with a bit of liquid nitrogen. It looks fairly hideous until the scab peels off but within a week my skin is good as new with no more spots.

  10. I had pigmentation after having kids, despite using sunblock every day, so was most likely due to hormones. I treated it with a course of about 4 or 5 facial treatments – each of which included a peel, microdermabrasion and light therapy. This was in conjunction with using vitamin c serum, vitamin a and hydroquinone at home. I was really happy with the results and have maintained them pretty well with the products since.

  11. I’m sorry you have to deal with this I only have a few dark spots and they are probably from my early years sunbakng,whish i knew better though I can hide them pretty well.Hormones are great aren’t they ,They cause a whole heap of problems in women!!

  12. I have a problem with my neck which is apparently related to 20+years of spraying perfume behind (around more like it…) my ears every day. The alcohol in the perfume then reacts with the sun and my sensitive skin, and chango-presto you have pigmentation marks on both sides of the neck.
    I am very interested in the spray-on sunscreen for re-applying during the day- any recommendations, ladies? Also, does make-up survive a midday spray with SPF?

    1. I use Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Body Mist SPF 30+. It’s not something I do every day when I’m outside for quick bursts out of time, but for when I’m in extended sun or out for the day. I just close my eyes, take a deep breath and then lightly mist my face and neck and décolletage. Works a treat for me! I think it works to almost set my makeup.

  13. I’ve just turned 40 and have several areas of pigment on my face. When I was pregnant it was a real mask! If the pigment is from sun damage, get it checked out. I have recently had 4 area’s removed surgically with skin cancer concerns.

      1. I’m surprised you haven’t heard of Meladerm for hyper pigmentation. It’s made by Civant US and available on their website. It’s $40 plus delivery. Not a cosmetic by any means. Hydroquinone-free and paraben-free. I think it is worth a try. It has certainly brightened my skin and I have ordered some more for my daughter who is getting married in 2 months and she wants to brighten her skin. You will see results in 2 weeks (according to Civant)

  14. Super timely post! After ignoring this for years, now in my 40s, it’s becoming more obvious as I have a very distinct line between face and neck which has developed, making the matching of makeup very difficult. Thank you 🙂
    PS I have done courses of micro dermabrasion and IPL, none of which made any difference except to my bank balance!

  15. You don’t have to live with it and results can be better than you ever thought possible with the correct tools. Hyperpigmentation is multi faceted with which the majority has to do with cell health and skin functioning. If you haven’t experienced DMK yet, try it. It will transform your skin. And instead of working just on symptoms i.e. pigmented lesions, it addresses all causative factors therefore providing exceptional and most importantly LONG TERM results. But don’t take my word for it, embark on a skin revision journey and you’ll see for yourself 😉

    1. Do you sell this in your salon or have you used it to treat pigmentation yourself? The underlying cause for Kim-Marie is hormones – as it was for me. Once the hormones settled, so long as I’d protected my skin in the interim, my skin returned to its pre-pigmented state.

      1. I work for DMK and have been helping people with this very thing going on 8 years now. Yep and those pesky hormones would have to be one of the biggest factors. And that is the first thing we take into account when devising a corrective plan. The cascade of events that takes place in the ‘factory’ (which is what skin as our biggest organ resembles) as a result of hormone disharmony is HUGE! And really disrupts cellular health. Very interesting subject and one I could talk about all day! But I’ll stop now… lol 🙂

  16. Argh It can be a real problem for some people. I have a relative who has had major consistent trouble with it and has had to have multiple dermabrasion treatments(which I think may have made it look worse, by making the difference in pigment more pronounced, but has eventually worked!) I had a bit while preggers, and it wasn’t terribly bad. But like you I just treated it in a similar manner (always being a big good concealing foundation fan helped) and ensured I had that really high SPF and thick sunscreen and a hat on ALL the time! It is so Important to keep in the shade too.

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