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Now that fall is upon us, many are left wondering how to effectively manage hyperpigmentation as the weather turns dry.
Hyperpigmentation may seem like a summer thing and a nonissue during the fall and winter months, but this isn’t the case.
Fortunately, there are steps anyone with hyperpigmentation can take towards managing this skin concern in the fall.
Dr. Corey Hartman, a dermatologist in Birmingham, Alabama, specializes in treating hyperpigmentation.
“Hyperpigmentation can occur as a result of any inflammatory skin condition (acne, eczema, psoriasis), hormonal changes (melasma), or be induced by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) and visible light (sunspots, freckles),” he explains.
When skin cells are inflamed and damaged, the increased melanin releases pigment deeper into skin layers and between skin cells, causing darker patches.
Having darker skin, I understand the struggle of managing stubborn hyperpigmentation throughout the years with what felt like little improvement to show for my efforts.
My stagnant results could’ve been from my lack of knowledge surrounding how hyperpigmentation differs from skin tone to skin tone.
Hartman explains that hyperpigmentation occurs in darker skin tones due to inflammation.
“[Comparatively,] in lighter skin types, hyperpigmentation is caused by prolonged sun exposure and environments associated with increased heat and hormones,” he says.
The skin is the body’s first line of defense against pathogens. When the weather changes and turns dry in the fall, so does the propensity for our skin to become dryer.
“In the fall and winter, temperatures start to decrease, the air is less humid and drier, airborne allergens change and increase, and we heat our homes,” Hartman says. “All of these factors contribute to dryness and dehydration.”
According to Hartman, dry skin leads to irritated skin.
“When the skin barrier is compromised, it lacks the ability to hold onto oil and water. The skin starts to become itchy, and that scratching leads to a rash,” he says.
As the cycle persists, this leads to inflammation and hyperpigmentation.
While many people may not be aware, there are ways to effectively manage your hyperpigmentation in the drier fall months.
Here are six steps you can take:
Manage hyperpigmentation at the source
Skin conditions such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis can be made worse in dryer weather, especially for those who have or are prone to dry or combination-dry skin.
The first step to managing hyperpigmented skin is to find the source.
Hartman recommends The Ordinary Azelaic Acid 10% Suspension for both hyperpigmentation and acne.
“Azelaic acid is produced naturally by yeast that lives on skin and is abundant in grains. It helps to improve brightness and reduce the appearance of blemishes and also acts as an antioxidant,” he says.
Still wear sunscreen
Harmful sun rays can still cause damage to skin even in the fall and winter. Not to mention, some locations still have very warm fall seasons.
Dr Hartman suggests wearing sunscreen even when it’s overcast or you’re indoors.
“The UV and visible light from windows are enough to worsen hyperpigmentation and interfere with a skin regimen aimed at treating dark spots,” he says.
Wearing sunscreen daily is still essential in protecting your skin in the fall.
Look for ingredients that hydrate and brighten
Dry weather impacts hyperpigmented skin, so look for efficient products that hydrate and brighten skin.
Dr. Hope Mitchell, a dermatologist based in Perrysburg, Ohio, has some suggestions.
“I recommend hydroquinone combined with topical retinoid, which help turn over the top layers of skin. They allow better absorption of hydroquinone or other lightening products that specifically treat pigmentation or stop the production of melanin in the skin,” she says.
Dr. Mitchell suggests other non-hydroquinone pigment correctors that work well for hyperpigmentation:
- kojic acid
- glycolic acid
Switch from a lotion to a cream-based moisturizer
Rotate or change your skin care products as the seasons change.
The best way to prepare for dryer weather is by changing products from lighter lotions to creams that contain ceramides. These creams do a better job locking moisture into the skin.
“These products [below] have been proven to protect the skin barrier from transepidermal water loss, further dryness, and the cycle that starts the itch and scratching that may lead to hyperpigmentation,” Dr. Mitchell explains.
Refrain from picking at dry spots
This step is pretty self-explanatory.
Picking at dry spots can lead to aggravated acne and worsened scarring that may make hyperpigmentation more severe.
Instead, use gentle moisturizing products to combat dry or aggravated skin, especially at night.
Search for effective topical retinoids
Topical retinoids are cream-based products containing ingredients derived from vitamin A.
Dr. Mitchell also recommends vitamin C because of its ability to lighten, brighten, and prevent hyperpigmentation. Plus, vitamin C hydrates dry skin.
Ultimately, consistency is key to managing hyperpigmentation, whatever time of year.
“Blemishes don’t appear overnight, and results don’t either. Consistency is key to achieving long-lasting results,” says Hartman.
As always, there are many reputable estheticians on Twitter, like @skinclasshero or @sgarretteskin. In particular, they give great advice on managing hyperpigmentation on darker skin tones, whatever the weather.
Remember: Moisturize, be consistent, and be patient with yourself this season.
Ebony Purks is a recent college graduate with a bachelor’s degree in English with a concentration in professional writing. She is a freelance writer and blogger and runs a personal blog called Black Girl’s Digest. She writes analyses covering anything from pop culture to current events. In her spare time, Ebony enjoys bingeing her favorite shows on Netflix, watching YouTube, practicing yoga, and reading on occasion.