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Reasons Why Your Hyperpigmentation Might Seem Worse

A model shielding her face from the sun

When we think of the top signs of aging, it’s often fine lines, wrinkles, and gray hair that come to mind. However, dark spots are another skin concern that become more commonplace as we grow older and wiser—and they can affect everyone.

If your recent mirror visits have left you feeling frustrated about the increase or darkening of existing hyperpigmentation, we hear you loud and clear. Ahead, we’re discussing what causes dark spots, why your dark spots aren’t fading as quickly as you’d like, and sharing our tips on how to improve the look of dark spots.

What Is Hyperpigmentation?

Hyperpigmentation goes by many names—including dark spots, sun spots, liver spots, and age spots—and refers to the darkening of skin pigment. These flat and harmless areas of discoloration can range from freckle-sized dots to larger marks.

We know that age is a major factor in what causes hyperpigmentation, as dark spots are most prevalent among people over 50. However, these pesky spots can occur on anyone at any age, and people who endure lots of sun exposure are especially prone. On that note, dark spots are most likely to make an unwelcome appearance in areas that are most exposed, including your face, backs of hands, shoulders, and even feet.

The good news is that a few tweaks to your daily habits and skincare routine could make a big difference in the look of dark spots.

Why Is My Hyperpigmentation Not Going Away?

That first time an unfamiliar dark spot decides to take up residence on your face can be a bit jarring. You may shrug it off and stay the course with your current regimen, only to wonder months or years later, “Why aren’t my dark spots fading even though I’m doing everything right?

If the above sounds familiar (or you’re concerned your current routine isn’t right for dark spots), it’s officially time to fine-tune your skincare routine and figure out what habits and products may not work in your favor. Here are some of the most common reasons why your dark spots aren’t budging or are getting darker.

You’re Getting Too Much Sun

While you certainly don’t have to adopt a vampire’s suncare habits, it’s in your skin’s best interest to stay on the DL when it comes to sun exposure. That big ball of fire in the sky is one of the biggest culprits in terms of what causes dark spots on the face and on your body.

Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher every day, making sure to apply enough—about one ounce for your entire body—and reapplying as needed. It’s also helpful to stay in the shade, avoid peak sun hours, and wear protective clothing and hats.

Did You Know?: Sun exposure can cause dark spots to appear darker, and it can even cause previously faded dark spots to reappear.

Antioxidants Are Missing from Your Routine

While sunscreen can protect your skin from the sun’s powerful UV rays, antioxidants can also help by neutralizing free radicals. In a nutshell, free radicals are unpredictable unpaired oxygen atoms that adhere to your skin’s surface and trigger a chain of damaging events.

If you want to help improve the look of dark spots, you’ll definitely want an antioxidant-rich serum on your side. In the morning, apply a vitamin C serum underneath your sunscreen. Try a serum like Bye Bye Dark Spots Niacinamide Serum in the evenings to double down on the dark spot battle. Formulated with 4% niacinamide and 1% ethyl vitamin C, it helps fade the appearance of dark spots and discoloration while helping to visibly improve your skin's clarity. Just remember, these solutions take time, and if you are exposed to sun, dark spots can darken again.

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You’re Holding out on Retinol

We argue that no grownup skincare routine is complete without retinol. Retinoids—the term for a class of compounds derived from Vitamin A—are championed for their ability to expedite turnover of the skin's surface cells, which visibly improves skin tone and texture. As a bonus, retinoids can even reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Not ready for a prescription treatment? The Hello Results Wrinkle-Reducing Daily Retinol Serum-in-Cream formula, which features a blend of free and encapsulated retinol, visibly fades dark spots, helps improve skin's firmness and reduces the look of fine lines and wrinkles.

Patience Isn’t Your Strong Suit

Trust us when we say that we love seeing results just as quickly as you do! The thing is, it can take time for skincare products to take effect. In fact, The American Academy of Dermatologists says that most products take at least six weeks to work, and some can even take up to three months.1

Stay the course, follow the directions, and take pictures along the way so you can see how far your skin has come.

Dealing with pimple-related hyperpigmentation? Check out our guide on post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH), which covers causes, treatment options, and makeup tips. And don’t forget to check out Bye Bye Breakout Salicylic Acid Acne Serum while you’re at it.


1. American Academy of Dermatologists. “How to Maximize Results from Anti-Aging Skin Care Products.”

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