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Here's Why You Get Skin Pigmentation And How To Manage It

Written by: Victoria Hanlon
Senior Writer

Have you ever looked in the mirror and noticed darker patches appearing on your skin? Annoying right? While this probably isn’t a welcome addition to your look, skin pigmentation on the face is natural and something most of us may experience at some point. If you want to leave it and rock it, then all power to you, otherwise check out our simple steps to help fade its appearance and restore an even complexion.

What is pigmentation?

Derived from the Latin word, pigmentāt(us), meaning ‘painted’ or ‘coloured’, skin pigmentation literally refers to the coloured molecules that sit within the skin[1]. Your body has cells called melanocytes which produce melanin, and this is the substance that creates your skin colour[2]

When certain parts of the skin produce too much melanin, this causes dark patches known as ‘hyperpigmentation’[3]. It affects people of all skin types and is more common in women[3] and older people[4]. Its causes vary, but it can be triggered by things like hormones, certain medications, pregnancy, and excessive sun exposure[3]. It’s fair to say that, at some point, most people will be affected by it in one way or another. 

Is pigmentation permanent? 

The good news is that pigmentation generally isn’t permanent and dark spots often fade on their own over time. If pigmentation was caused by factors like pregnancy, it may fade on its own. 

Can we avoid it and how? 

Although it’s hard to avoid it entirely, there are steps you can take to try and minimise the impact. Beautiful, clear skin starts from within, so help your body build a strong foundation of nutrients. Look for foods and beauty supplements that contain vitamin C[5], vitamin A, and niacinamide (vitamin B3), as they support skin health. 

How to get rid of skin pigmentation’s appearance

If you are noticing some uneven patches appearing, try not to fret about it. Look for skincare products that contain gentle face acids, such as glycolic acid or salicylic acid[6], or vitamin C[7]. Also consider products with retinol, which can improve the appearance of uneven skin tone and dark spots.[8]

If you want to boost your skincare with professional support, then consult a dermatologist, who can assess your specific needs and recommend a more tailored plan for pigmentation treatment for skin. 

And of course, a non-negotiable for skin is sunscreen, which prevents harmful UV rays from reaching your skin[9] – as if you need another reason to slap on the SPF 50+ every day. 

Can skin pigment be restored? 

In a word, yes. Consistent and targeted skincare is your friend when it comes to restoring uneven skin tone. As above, look for skincare which is designed to reduce the appearance uneven skin tone and dark spots to reveal an even, bright complexion. The key is to use it consistently in order to notice change and remember to consult your dermatologist to discuss how best to remove skin pigmentation and learn more about the best treatment for pigmentation. 

How long does it take for pigmentation to fade? 

 On average, it can take around six – 12 months to fade a spot a few shades darker than your natural skin colour[10]. However, this depends on a number of factors, such as your own genetic makeup, the causes, and any treatment for skin pigmentation that you’ve previously tried.If you consistently stick to your routine and avoid excessive sun exposure, then with time you should start to see a bright complexion return. 



  1.  Skin Pigmentation Disorders. MedlinePlus: National Library of Medicine (US). Accessed 20 June 2023
  2. Cichorek M, Wachulska M, Stasiewicz A, Tymińska A. Skin melanocytes: biology and development. Postepy Dermatol Alergol. 2013;30(1):30-41. doi:10.5114/pdia.2013.33376
  3. Vashi NA, Kundu RV. Facial hyperpigmentation: causes and treatment. Br J Dermatol. 2013;169 Suppl 3:41-56. doi:10.1111/bjd.12536 
    Ortonne JP. Pigmentary changes of the ageing skin. Br J Dermatol. 1990;122 Suppl 35:21-28. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2133.1990.tb16121.x
  4. De Dormael R, Bastien P, Sextius P, et al. Vitamin C Prevents Ultraviolet-induced Pigmentation in Healthy Volunteers: Bayesian Meta-analysis Results from 31 Randomized Controlled versus Vehicle Clinical Studies. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2019;12(2):E53-E59.
  5. Davis EC, Callender VD. Postinflammatory hyperpigmentation: a review of the epidemiology, clinical features, and treatment options in skin of color. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2010;3(7):20-31.
  6. Sanadi RM, Deshmukh RS. The effect of Vitamin C on melanin pigmentation - A systematic review. J Oral Maxillofac Pathol. 2020;24(2):374-382. doi:10.4103/jomfp.JOMFP_207_20
  7. Callender VD, Baldwin H, Cook-Bolden FE, Alexis AF, Stein Gold L, Guenin E. Effects of Topical Retinoids on Acne and Post-inflammatory Hyperpigmentation in Patients with Skin of Color: A
  8. Clinical Review and Implications for Practice. Am J Clin Dermatol. 2022;23(1):69-81. doi:10.1007/s40257-021-00643-2
  9. Hyperpigmentation. American Society for Dermatologic Surgery. Accessed 20 June 2023
  10. How to fade dark spots in darker skin tones. American Academy of Dermatology Assocation. Accessed 20 June 2023

Victoria Hanlon - Senior Writer