Hyperpigmentation: An Overview of sustainable and ethical Approaches

 Treatment, types and causes.

People with dark skin tone have to deal with a variety of unique issues when it comes to skin, and one of those is hyperpigmentation. So how can we maneuver around the self-care world whilst trying to live in an sustainable way?

What is hyperpigmentation?

Hyperpigmentation is a common skin condition that mainly effects women of color. It is what happens when the skin starts to darken in certain spots but not others, making a distinct look. It is very commonly seen with aging. It can also appear if you suffer from too much sunlight exposure, which can harm your skin.

It’s common to see hyperpigmentation around the area where the inflammation took place. This is known as post-inflammatory pigmentation. This is a type of temporary/permanent pigmentation followed by an injury or inflammatory disorder of the skin. Sometimes, this condition is also referred as acquired melanosis.

If you happen to have such pigmentation, worry not. All you need is treating yourself with a little extra care and using appropriate skincare products. In this article, the goal is to offer you a proper guideline that involves vegan, cruelty-free and organic skincare products to treat those hyperpigmented patches.

There are very few ways in which hyperpigmentation can be addressed, and many companies go about it in quite the wrong way.

What causes post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation

The skin inflammation stimulates melanin synthesis around the area that results in a higher deposit of melanin. This is what creates the hyperpigmentation. Let’s break it down a little bit more.

Because of the inflammation, the outer layer of the skin is damaged. It causes damage to the epidermis and/or dermis melanin deposits within the keratinocytes and/or dermis. It triggers the melanocyte stimulation to increase melanin synthesis. The extra melanin is transferred to the surrounding keratinocytes.

If the inflammation or injury is severe, then it may result in permanent pigmentation. Some drugs also cause further darkening of the hyperpigmented area.

What are some good ways to take care of your skin?

One way that many companies work to help mitigate hyperpigmentation is with whitening creams. Needless to say, these creams have a very negative view in communities of color. Especially for those who have darker skin tones, as whitening creams are marketed as a way to lighten skin tones in order to fit arbitrary “beauty standards.” And I for one am not about that.

The best thing to do that is healthy and good for the environment is to help learn to accept your skin tone, and to love yourself for who you are. And one of those ways is taking awesome care of your skin in a more natural way. This includes using natural products so you are not bombarding your face with harsh chemicals that are probably just making things worse.

What are some good zero waste products to use?

There are many zero waste products on the market for skin care, but I mainly wanted to focus on brands created by other women of color. One of the best companies I found was founded by Shilpi Chhotray, who is doing an awesome job when it comes to ocean work. She makes skin creams and facial masks at her shop Samudra Skin & Sea.

Avirida is another company that is well known for selling creams and facial masks that are packaged in bamboo, and easy to compost when you are done with them. A good way to take care of your skin and moisturize while also feeling better about yourself.

And while not run by a woman of color, Ethique is a woman owned company that specializes in creating package-free shampoo bars and the like. This can be really good if you are tired of dealing with all that plastic.


Treating post-inflammation hyperpigmentation:

My Routine

There are a couple of things you should focus on for treating post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. In short, it’s cleaning your skin, applying proper skincare products and whenever going out, using a suitable sunscreen.

First, here’s a quick explanation of some recommended products. All these products are vegan, cruelty-free and palm oil-free.

Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA: It’s effective in reducing the visibility of the spot and hyperpigmentation. For maximizing benefit, the concentration of alpha arbutin is increased to 2% compared to the standard 1% concentration.

  • Niacinamide: Niacinamide, also known as vitamin B3, is highly effective for reducing skin blemishes and congestion. This product contains highly concentrated niacinamide. To balance out the sebum activity, it also features a zinc salt of pyrrolidone carboxylic acid.
    If you’re using any other skin care product that contains L-ascorbic acid, then avoid applying both of them together. Instead, use them in alternating times.
  • Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate: Vitamin C is an effective antioxidant that brightens the skin while reducing aging signs. However, when mixed with water, pure vitamin C isn’t stable. As an alternative, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate (MAP) is derived that’s water-soluble and stable derivative of vitamin C. However, in terms of potency, it’s less potent than L-ascorbic acid.
    The product comes in the form of light cream, offering 10% pure MAP.
  • Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%: Azelaic acid is commonly found in grains. It’s also naturally produced by the yeasts living on the skin. Azelaic acid is known for brightening the skin tone and improving skin texture while reducing blemishes. It’s a good support ingredient that’s compatible with all types of skins. It also works as an antioxidant.
    This formula offers azelaic acid in a very high 10% concentration in the form of a lightweight cream-gel system.

All these products sound really nice but what’s the application schedule? I’m glad that you asked. Here’s what worked for me and I strongly recommend to follow. It’s a two-part routine.


Cleanse the target area.


Cleanse the skin 

To prevent further pigmentation, it’s important that the target area doesn’t get exposed to sunlight. If you must go out in the sunlight, apply an appropriate  sunscreen.


Final thoughts

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation isn’t a pleasant experience for anyone. Many women with hyperpigmentation might feel as if their blemishes are a slight on their looks. Instead of understanding that this is natural, and they should not need to use harsh chemicals on their faces in order to feel better about themselves.

However, with the right steps, it’s nothing to worry about.

Feel free to share your experience of hyperpigmentation.

Happy skin


  1. Nia March 15, 2020 at 7:13 pm

    Hey Heidi,

    I am glad you ask. They really work well if use layer the products.
    First, cleanse and then follow the recommended order in the post:
    1. Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA
    2. Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%
    3. Ascorbyl Glucoside Solution 12% (30ml)
    4. Sunscreen (everyday!)

    1. Cleanse the skin or double cleanse if you use makeup.
    Apply the following products
    2. Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA
    3.. Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

    I hope it helps. 🙂

  2. Heidi March 15, 2020 at 6:39 pm

    Thank you so much for this information! I have had hyperpigmentation for a few years but any products I have seen are sooo expensive. These ones look affordable.
    When you say to use the products for morning and evening cleanse, do you mean to use them all or to choose just one?