Everyone’s complexion is like a unique snowflake. Facialists get to do the rewarding job of assessing their clients’ unique skin concerns, then—over the course of about an hour—transforming it into a more radiant state. As a celebrity facialist that’s been doing this for over a decade, Candace Marino has worked with every skin woe you could imagine. Out of every skin concern, though, one holds the position as the most common that people want to know how to treat: hyperpigmentation.
“Hyperpigmentation is hands down the most common skin concern that my clients are fighting,” she says. “No matter whether it’s post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, spots from hormones, or melasma, the sun will only exacerbate it, deepen it, and make it harder to treat.” You know it as those dark spots that show up on your skin after a zit is gone, or from spending too much time in the sun.
The tricky thing about hyperpigmentation is that it takes a lot of time and patience to treat. “During a facial, we can gradually treat pigmentation by using the right ingredients, but the magic happens when clients are consistent with their home skin-care routine,” says Marino, who notes that she uses either a peel or an exfoliating and brightening facial to “breathe life back into dull, damaged skin.”
As for taking care of your dark spots at home, Marino recommends incorporating the following skin-care essentials for your healthiest, brightest skin ever—keep scrolling for her picks.
How to treat hyperpigmentation
1. Use SPF. Unsurprisingly, Marino stresses the fact that sun protection is essential for protecting your skin and preventing further damage. “I am a huge advocate of daily sunscreen and reapplying it throughout the day,” she says, adding that she loves the iS Clinical Extreme Protect SPF 30 ($78).
2. Pile on the antioxidants. “A good skin-care routine should include an antioxidant serum during the day,” says Marino. “I like to call these an insurance policy for your SPF, since these coat your skin cells in antioxidants to help fight off the free radicals that enter the skin that can cause collagen breakdown, pigment, and cancers.” Try something like The Inkey List 15% Vitamin C and EGF Brightening Serum ($15).
3. Slather on a targeted treatment. Marino recommends incorporating a pigment inhibitor into your routine to break up the appearance of hyperpigmentation and unify the complexion. She loves the Biologique Recherche PIGM 400 line of products, or you can snag the Peter Thomas Roth Pro Strength Niacinamide Discoloration Treatment ($88).
4. Swipe on an acid toner. Acid toners are all-stars for exfoliating and revealing a more even complexion. “The Biologique Recherche Lotion P50 PIGM 400 is a godsend for those struggling with pigmentation and sun damage because it exfoliates and brightens as it regulates skin renewal,” says Marino, who advises to use a product like this after cleansing, before serums in the morning and at night. Peach & Lily The Good Acids Pore Toner ($39) is great for the job.
5. Use retinol at night. Every skin pro out there will tell you to use a retinol. “A retinoid is always a good idea, especially when concerned with pigment and texture due to sun damage,” says Marino. “I love a retinoid when dealing with pigment because it helps to lift the pigmented skin cells to the surface and shed them.”Her go-to is SkinBetter Science AlphaRet Overnight Cream ($120), but you can also use something like Olay Regenerist Retinol 24 Night Serum ($29).
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