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Treating Hyperpigmentation - 12 tips for a more even complexion

Hyperpigmentation comes in many forms - brown spots or liver spots, patches, lumps and pigment that blemish our once smooth and clear complexion. However, there is a variety of options to reduce the appearance or even remove the hyperpigmentation! Read below for our top tips and advice regarding skincare and treatments to help smooth and even out your complexion.

What causes hyperpigmentation and brown spots?

Hyperpigmentation occurs when your skin has excess melanin production, resulting in deposits of pigment, which can appear anywhere on the body. There is often no single cause identified but a combination of factors, such as any of the following:

·         Sun exposure.

·         Hormones.

·         Genetic disposition and age.

·         Inflammation from injury or burns.

·         Certain medications e.g. Tetracycline antibiotics, Valium, Dilantin, cosmetics with oxidized linoleic acid and salicylates.

At Transform Clinic, we have a variety of treatments and products that help to remove pigmentation for a more even-toned complexion. The first step is to book a consultation with one of our registered nurses or our doctor. 

12 treatments to improve or get rid of hyperpigmentation!


Essentially, to treat pigmentation (and improve skin quality), you need an active/stimulant product. Below are some of our favourite products to improve pigmentation, skin quality and protect your skin from further damage.

1. Prevention with SPF - this is your first line of defence against pigmentation.
As sun exposure is one of the key causes of brown spots and pigmentation, wearing a tested SPF of SPF 30 or higher every day and wearing a wide-brimmed hat when you’re out in the sun is really important. We recommend the Dermablock 30+ for everyday wear or the TIZO 3 Tinted Facial Mineral Sunscreen SPF40.

2. Vitamin C 
Vitamin C Serum (L-Ascorbic Acid) is an effective antioxidant to prevent and reduce pigmentation and can be applied during the day. Vitamin C Serum inhibits melanin production in the skin, which helps to lighten hyperpigmentation and brown spots and will help protect against further UVA and UVB harm. Additionally, it boosts collagen synthesis to firm, tone and smooth the skin. We recommend the Dermatech C-15 Serum or the Essential Repair Serum.

3. Vitamin A / Retinoids
Vitamin A is a powerful antioxidant that can be used nightly. Vitamin A encourages cell turnover and helps to reduce the appearance of pigmentation by normalising the activity of tyrosinase, which is an enzyme that plays a key role in the production of melanin. As a result, it thickens and lightens the skin and can help treat signs of aging skin. We recommend Dermatech Active A Serum or the Essential Repair Serum.

4. Glycolic Acid
Glycolic Acid is an Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) that can be applied at day or night time. Glycolic Acid improves pigmentation by speeding up cell turnover in the outer layers of the skin. As it reaches the deeper layers, it increases the deposition of collagen and other proteins, which leads to better supported and healthier skin. The Dermatech Glycolic Cream® is a cult product at Transform Clinic, comes in three strengths, 5%, 10% and 15% and is highly recommended.

How is Glycolic different from Vitamin A?
Both products appear to achieve the same effect albeit by different means. The advantages of using Glycolic Cream® are that the Glycolic Cream® does not increase your sensitivity to the Sun. Glycolic Cream® does not appear to produce the undesirable side effects experienced by many Retin-A users, such as dry, flaky patches on the skin. Many specialists in the USA recommend using a combination of Retin-A and Glycolic Cream® to produce enhanced results more quickly. It has also been observed that the undesirable flaking with Retin-A seems to disappear when these products are combined. 

5. Kligman's Formula
At Transform Clinic, Dr. Little will often prescribe "Kligman's Formula", a special skin-bleaching formula that contains 4% Hydroquinone, Tretinoic Acid and a hydrocortisone to calm the skin. Hydroquinone is a skin-bleaching agent that is used to lighten areas of darkened skin such as freckles, chloasma/melasma, and age spots. Hydroquinone is also available as a 2% cream for topical application in New Zealand pharmacy's - called Eldoquin® in NZ. 

Treatments and Facials

At Transform Clinic, there are several treatments that we offer to remove or improve the appearance of hyperpigmentation, all of which vary in intensity and downtime.

6. Laser Peels, Resurfacing + Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) 
There are two types of laser treatments: ablative and non-ablative. Ablative laser treatments remove thin layers of skin – this is your Laser Peel. Laser peels are used to smooth and improve the texture of the skin - wrinkles, enlarged pores, and sun damage. During the treatment, the superficial layers of the skin are gently removed to promote regeneration of the skin. Non-ablative laser treatments are less invasive and work mainly to stimulate new collagen, which helps eliminate some of the pigment caused by sun damage.

7. Elos Fotofacial®
The Elos Fotofacial is a photorejuvenation treatment that safely fades the appearance of skin imperfections such as those caused by sun damage, freckles, brown spots, red capillary veins, flushing and redness. The gentle light and electric energies break up the pigment and/or blood in lesions and stimulates collagen restructuring and/or production, restoring the skin to a more youthful state. For best results, we recommend a series of 2-6 treatments repeated every 4 weeks and this is best done during Winter while the level of sun intensity is at its weakest. 

8. Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)
PDT is a very targeted treatment for pigmented skin to target any areas that may be pre-cancerous and any dry scaly areas that are persistent despite previous treatment.
PDT involves two stages – firstly, a medicine - aminolevulinic acid (ALA), is applied to an area of skin, this medicine is absorbed into the skin and is especially attracted to ‘abnormally’ fast growing cells such as bacteria, sebaceous cells, and precancerous cells. Secondly, the cells that have absorbed the ALA are selectively destroyed with a bright light.

9. Microdermabrasion Facial
A microdermabrasion treatment involves a diamond tip gently gliding over the skin, in combination with a light vacuum suction.  A microdermabrasion will target the surface layer of the skin, sloughing away dead skin cells and this can make dark spots appear lighter. Other benefits include faster cell renewal and increased collagen production, which will also encourage the appearance of healthy, even skin. An added benefit of microdermabrasion is lymphatic drainage, which will boost the circulation of your skin, creating a more youthful, healthier glow. A microdermabrasion facial is a great addition to your treatment routine, especially in-between IPL and Laser sessions to remove ‘milo-ing’.

10. Vitamin C Infusion Facial           
A relaxing and revitalising facial using Sonophoresis to penetrate Vitamin C deeper into the skin and intensify its anti-aging properties. Vitamin C’s antioxidants does wonders for helping create younger, firmer skin, while fading signs of sun damage and post-acne marks.

11. HydraFacial®
The HydraFacial® is a multi-stage facial that combines exfoliating and deep cleansing technology with nourishing anti-oxidants. As a result, it improves overall skin health as well as reducing the appearance of hyperpigmentation and sun damage. Expect your skin to look instantly smoother, clearer and glowing.

12. Microneedling (Collagen Induction Therapy)
Microneedling is a great treatment for promoting collagen and elastin production to improve overall skin quality and the appearance fine lines, wrinkles, large pores, uneven skin tone, assist in breaking down hyperpigmentation, acne scarring and other types of scarring. 

As you can see, at Transform Clinic we have a variety of solutions for hyperpigmentation concerns. The first step is to book a FREE consultation with one of our registered nurses and we can discuss the treatment options with you and create a personalised treatment regime.