An obsession with skincare, makeup and all things beauty. Honest reviews and opinions.

Wednesday 10 April 2019

How To Fade Acne Pigmentation

*This post contains affiliate links*

If you've been following me for a while, you'll know that hormonal cystic acne is the bane of my life! One of the biggest issues with having acne is not the spots themselves, believe it or not. It's the pigmentation that they leave behind. Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation or PIH for short, is caused when the skin produces excess melanin as part of the healing process. When your spot is healed, you're left behind with the excess melanin, causing a mark. The colour of these marks depends on your skin tone but can be red / pink / purple / brown / black. Mine are a darkish pink / red. These PIH marks can take months to fade completely. So when like me, you repeatedly get spots in the same area, the PIH marks can quickly build up and become obvious. I find PIH harder to cover and hide than acne cysts, purely because of their colour! They seem to have a knack for shining through makeup, it's infuriating!

So what's the solution? Aside from not getting spots (ha! I wish!) there's a number of things you can do to help fade them. Now obviously I'm not a Dr / dermatologist / facialist, these are just what has worked for me.

The first and most important product in my opinion, is SPF. Hopefully you wear SPF everyday without fail already and if you don't, why not?! The sun is the biggest cause of aging. So it's pointless putting lots of serums and creams on your skin if you're not going to wear SPF, as the sun will undo all of your hard work!

One thing that the sun massively makes worse is PIH. PIH will darken in the sun if not protected by SPF. I know this first hand after having a spot and PIH on my temple but fairly close to my eye. The SPF I was using at the time, made my eyes water so I was unwittingly washing off the SPF without realising. I soon noticed after the PIH went from pink to red! The difference was shocking. Lesson learnt - I soon swapped to an SPF that doesn't make my eyes water. So make sure you apply and reapply your SPF. Ideally you want SPF 30 or above.

My personal favourite is Evy Technology Daily UV Face Mousse SPF 30 (which can be bought from Space NK HERE or Evy Technology's website HERE - where you can use my affiliate code TORIA15 to get 15% off). It's the least SPF like SPF you can buy, if that makes sense (you can read my full review HERE).

The next product you need in your arsenal is a Vitamin C product. Vitamin C is proven to brighten skin and lighten pigmentation effectively. Vitamin C products come in many forms so it's all about finding one that works best for your skin type. There's lots of different types of Vitamin C and they're not all created equal. It's a notoriously unstable product that oxidises when exposed to air. Certain types are more stable than others, just as some fade pigmentation better than others. Ideally for fading pigmentation you want the type of Vitamin C to be L-Ascorsbic Acid which unfortunately is one of the more unstable versions, so you'll want to use it up quickly, which is fine as you'll need to be using it daily to see results. Ascorbyl Glucosamine and Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate are also good choices for pigmentation too. Most other types of Vitamin C are designed as an antioxidant. You'll also need to take into account the strength of the Vitamin C, which can be difficult as not all brands publish their strengths. You want to look for a strength of 10-15% if possible, or higher. My personal favourites are Paula's Choice C15 Super Booster (available from Paula's Choice, Skin City and Look Fantastic UK and USA - read my full review HERE), Kat Burki Vitamin C Intensive Face Cream (available from Space NK) and SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic (available from Skin City, Look Fantastic UK and USA - read my full review HERE). Vitamin C is traditionally used in the morning, although can be used at night. Like most active ingredients, it can cause skin sensitivity so use with caution when trying for the first time.

Acid exfoliation is another must for fading pigmentation. There are numerous AHA acids - including Glycolic, Lactic, Malic, one BHA acid - Salicylic, PHA acids and finally Azelaic acid. They all exfoliate skin but some are better at fading pigmentation that others. I've found I've had the best result from Glycolic and Azelaic or a combination of the two! As always when using acids, make sure you wear SPF. My favourite products are Paula's Choice 10% Azelaic Acid Booster (available from Paula's Choice, Skin City and Look Fantastic UK and USA) and Jan Marini Bioclear Lotion (read my full review HERE, available from Skin City.) The Paula's Choice serum is a cream consistency that works really well with all other products. Bioclear is more of a traditional serum consistency which again works brilliantly with other products. This contains Glycolic, Salicylic and Azelaic so is particularly effective for blemish prone skin like mine. The Glycolic and Azelaic treat the pigmentation and the Salicylic helps clear out the pores. It's a brilliant product.

*Note - The above Paula's Choice serum is the 10% Azelaic Acid, this is the old packaging.

Niacinamide is also a great ingredient to look out for. It's an anti-inflammatory and helps lighten pigmentation by inhibiting melanin. I've only just started using Niacinamide for this reason. I'm using Paula's Choice 10% Niacinamide Booster (available from Paula's ChoiceSkin City, Look Fantastic UK and USA) which is a watery liquid that absorbs well into skin and  leaves it hydrated. I've been using this in my AM routine, after my Vitamin C serum. There's a common myth that Vitamin C and Niacinamide can't be used together as they cancel each other out. Luckily it's not true!

Finally the last thing I would recommend, is a Vitamin A aka Retinol product. Retinol speeds up cell turnover so is great for getting rid of any pigmentation quicker. For more Retinol info and some recommendations, read my Retinol blog post HERE. I'm currently using Drunk Elephant A-Passioni Retinol serum (available from Space NK and Cult Beauty) - it's much stronger than previous Retinol serums that I've tried so I'm using it every other day at the moment. Full review to come soon but I'll tell you know, it's a good one!

And that's it! All you need to get rid of that pigmentation as quickly as possible. I hope you find it useful.
Space NK UK

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