The Guide to Fighting Pigmentation

July 10, 2019


Ah one of the most stubborn skin concerns that we love to hate. Pigmentation can appear in the skin in forms of dark spots or a darkening of an area (Malasma). Before we hop into how we can fight and treat pigmentation, we need to understand how it is formed. 

A common word you would encounter in this topic is Melanin. Melanin is a pigment that gives the skin its colour and there are multiple factors that can alter the production of melanin in the body, some of the common ones are; hormonal imbalances (pregnancy), sun exposure and acne scarring.  This excess production of melanin is what causes pigmentation in our skin.

How fast your skin produces melanin is determined by an enzyme called Tyrosinase. It is the path of transporting melanin to the upper layers of the skin. Therefore, if we block this pathway, then unwanted pigmentation will not surface to the skin. You will need to tackle pigmentation from every stage of its production. For preventative measures, the faster you inhibit tyrosinase activity, the less chance it will surface and form on the dermis.

Tyrosinase Inhibitors Ingredients

The most common ingredient is hydroquinone, however the side effects can be dryness, redness and skin irritation which can lead to post inflammatory hyper-pigmentation. Aside from hydroquinone, there are other ingredients that are much more well tolerated by the skin and just as effective. We will get to this later!

But how about the pigmentation that is already formed, how do we get rid of it? Well, exfoliation is the key!

Regular exfoliation of the skin with AHAs is important to promote a healthy skin cell turnover rate to keep the unwanted pigment moving along. It also combats uneven skin tone and skin texture, revealing a smoother and brighter complexion. Most brightening products will already contain AHAs but a separate exfoliation will increase the effectiveness of the brightening serum, as removing the top layer of the skin will allow the serum to penetrate easily into the skin.

So, what steps do I need to take?

A consistent regime consisting of pigmentation blockers, exfoliators and SPF will keep unwanted pigmentation at bay. Here are our favourites.


Prevention is the best cure. The best way to eliminate hyperpigmentation is to prevent it in the first place so eliminate sun exposure where possible and always remember to wear a hat and cover exposed skin during hot days. And  sunscreen should always be applied, even in Winter! UVA rays that cause wrinkles, premature aging and pigmentation are just as strong, all year round!


Exfoliators are great to treat the pre-formed melanin in the skin, to reduce dark spots and the intensity of pigment. 


ISISPHARMA Neotone Exfoliating Cleansing Gel contains AHAs (Glycolic & Salicylic acid) to accelerate the cell renewal by gently removing the dead layer of the skin. It also contains Liquorice extract which reduces and prevents the appearance of dark spots. This is a light exfoliation, therefore can be used daily.


For pigmentation that is extra stubborn, consider a chemical peel or a high dosage of AHA like the ISISPHARMA Glyco-A 10 a superficial peel cream containing 10% Glycolic acid to remove the superficial layer of the epidermis to improve the texture and clarity of the skin. This is in a cream format therefore can be used on top of your brightening serums to increase the dose of AHA.


Pigment Blockers work as a preventive, to block the activation of Tyrosinase and curb the development of unwanted pigment.  


ISISPHARMA Neotone Intensive Serum attacks incoming pigment from surfacing. Diacetyl Boldine & Arbutin are Tyrosinase inhibitors and are a friendly and gentle alternative to Hydroquinone. Free from Hydroquinone and Kojic acid, this serum has the same efficacy without the side effects. More to love, it also contains the most loved skin brightening ingredient; Niacinamide, praised for its skin strengthening and brightening powers and also works to prevent the melanin transfer. This is serum can only be used in the evening.


Vitamin C is a staple in the beauty industry. It is a L-Asorbic acid that brightens the complexion and treat dark spots. For a more natural alternative, Caudalie Vinoperfect Serum is enriched with "Viniferine" a naturally powerful ingredient from the grapevine sap that is clinically proven to be 62 times more effective than vitamin C! It inhibits Tyrosinase and works to reduce the appearance of dark spots, including pregnancy mask, acne marks, sun pigmentation and age-related dark spots, and prevents them from reappearing. We recommend using this in the day to neutralise free radicals and prevent premature aging and pigmentation.


With these active ingredients working to prevent the melanin from surfacing, our skin can become sensitised and UV rays can exacerbate any pigmentation issue and undermine all that hard work from the brightening serum. 


A SPF of 50+ is recommended and our favourite is the Bioderma Photoderm BB Cream SPF 50+. It has a lightweight fluid texture offering “close-to-skin” natural coverage. Available in two natural colours, it not only works as a natural makeup base, but you are reassured that your skin stays protected from further pigmentation.

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