I’ve written before about how I’ve been dealing with the worst hyperpigmentation I’ve had in over a decade. Here’s a little quick backstory: (you can always go back and read through if you want the full tea) so around last June I not only had a bout with adult acne which gifted me with breakouts on my chin, but I had also taken an affinity for wearing baseball caps which caused me to breakout on my forehead. As the pimples went away, they left dark spots which can take some time to fade. With certain types of over the counter treatments, it can take at least 6-8 weeks before you start to notice SOME fading. And lucky me, as the dark spots would start to fade slightly, I’d get acne in the same damn spots. And then after THAT acne went away, more dark spots came. I would get new dark spots in the same area before the old dark spots had a chance to fade. It was a vicious cycle of acne and dark spots :/
Now I didn’t intend on writing a post like this when I first got the dark spots (because I didn’t know it would keep getting worse…lol), so I wasn’t taking pictures at every point to document them. But I did do a bunch of videos and was able to get screen shots as well as some footage so you can see my progress. Please note that of course there’s going to be differences in lighting in some of these and that can affect the way the color of my skin looks. You can still of course see the dark spots because of the contrast, but understand that dark skin can look different shades depending on the lighting. Sorry if that was obvious to some of you, but you wouldn’t believe how many people don’t seem to understand that :/
Before we get into my timeline and story, make sure you’ve watched my How to Get Rid of Dark Spots video below—it breaks down what dark spots are, why we get them, and various ways to get rid of them. Also check out my Hyperpigmentation category for more information and product reviews.
Watch: How to Get Rid of Dark Spots
Now let’s get into this timeline!
I believe this was just about when things started to get froggy with my skin. I had breakouts on my forehead and chin that resulted in dark spots. My first course of action was to first combat the acne. I’ve written before how adult acne cannot be tamed the way we slayed it when we were teens—you can read more in my adult acne category. So I starting using the Murad Anti-Aging Acne system twice a day for over the course of a couple of months and used it again whenever breakouts would try to clap back. If I had any persistent pimples that seemed defiant to the salicylic acid treatments I was using, I’d break out the sulfur via my Peter Thomas Roth Therapeutic Sulfur Masque. I used Alpha Hydrox Spot Light Targeted Skin Lightener (the company is now called Alpha Skin Care) to help fade the dark spots but my main focus was just really getting the acne under control. It wasn’t “bad” but the breakouts kept causing more dark spots :/
And then the dark spots practically multiplied as time wore on. It went something like: pimple > pimple goes away > dark spot pops up and lives on my face for months > dark spot starts to fade > new pimple pops up in practically the same exact spot where dark spot is > new pimple goes away > dark spot appears practically right where the previous one that was starting to fade is. And then repeat :x
My dark spots were probably at their worst here. You can see marks on my forehead, cheek, and chin. I still had some occasional breakouts and of course the aftermath which was the dark spots. I just made sure I was consistent with my skincare routine like I always was—paying attention to changes in my skin and the weather and adjusting my skincare accordingly. You can check out my What I’m Using on My Skin series to see what I use periodically.
I’d gotten to a point where my acne had slowed (but of course my facial hair was still live in full effect…lol. Don’t laugh—this stuff happens post 30). I also went on a press visit to a dermatologist where I was able to buy a 5% hydroquinone dark spot treatment (your dermatologist might sell this under their own brand name, so no need for you to ask for a specific brand). Now, make sure you use any hydroquinone treatments only after you’ve done your own research about hydroquinone. Hydroquinone can be a controversial ingredient depending on what studies you read although as of my writing this the FDA has not found any evidence that it’s carcinogenic. There are alternatives like licorice root or kojic acid, but these work a little slower to treat dark spots. I wasn’t getting acne as much, just a pimple here and there. I used the dermatologist dark spot treatment diligently.
I still have some minor dark spots but it’s a huge improvement since last year. I get the occasional breakout on my chin but my adult acne is subdued now (too bad my facial hair isn’t lol).
Now I cleared mine up for the most part at home though I did buy a topical treatment that you can only get (legally) from a licensed professional. But note that it took some time for me to get results—you will need to be patient as well as consistent with your skincare routine if you decide to go the treating at home route. Some more severe and/or older dark spots may not respond well to lower dosage, over the counter treatments and your best bet is seeing a dermatologist who may suggest a more aggressive form of treatment which could include lasers and/or prescription strength topical treatments. You’ll also likely get faster results under a dermatologist’s care.
Note: My dark spots obviously weren’t severe—they were just more than what typically happens with my skin. Some of us have skin situations that need a little more attention than others. I don’t want anyone to feel “bad” about their skin—just understand that it takes patience and consistency to remedy.
Things I Did Consistently All Throughout:
1. I wore a moisturizer with SPF every single day. It doesn’t matter if it’s summer, cloudy, partly sunny, the dead of winter, or whatever—as long as it’s day time out, you need to wear sunscreen. The sun’s rays can be just as damaging even if it’s 50 degrees below zero. You should be wearing sunscreen no matter what, but you especially need to be diligent about it when you’re treating dark spots because the ingredients in many of these ointments make your skin more sensitive to the sun. You can find some sunscreens to check out (and I’ve tested them so they won’t make you ashy or feel super heavy) in my Suncare category.
2. I follow a daytime skincare routine as well as a nighttime skincare routine. I made sure I removed my makeup and did my nighttime routine even if I tiptoed into the house at 3 A.M.
3. I made sure to pay attention to changes in my skin and alter my skincare regimen as needed. We get four seasons here in NYC so my oily skin reacts differently in each season. Not only that but we get odd bits of weather sometimes—like it can be 70 degrees one day in October, then 45 the next, then 60 and then close to 80 degrees. I make sure I check the weather before I decide which skincare to use. If it’s going to be warmer out, I break out the stuff I might use in spring or summer. If it’s going to be colder out, I make sure I reach for the more hydrating products I typically use during late fall/winter.
4. I didn’t beat myself up or lose my patience. Listen, skin stuff happens to the best of us. I still thought I was cute when I had dark spots and when I didn’t. It’s a learned practice, but practice being positive and in time you’ll catch on. But if things get unmanageable, please don’t hesitate to reach out and talk to a professional.
Also don’t forget about things in your lifestyle that you might not realize can be contributing to acne. Change your pillowcase often (especially if you use a lot of hair products—you could be getting hair product residue on your pillow and then on your face as you sleep), make sure your cell phone is wiped down regularly (a lot of people who seem to get breakouts on their cheeks get it from a dirty cell phone face), and be careful when wearing hats as they can cause breakouts on your forehead.