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Best Ingredients for Hyperpigmentation Treatment on Sensitive Skin

Let’s start by talking a little about the general concept of how hyperpigmentation of the skin is treated. Hyperpigmentation is a term used to describe darker areas of the skin that are formed from the excess production of melanin which are pigments that give the skin its colour. It is a common skin condition that can affect all skin types and at any age. In general, hyperpigmentations can be reduced either medically or non-medically by inhibiting the production of melanin or the removal of melanin completely. While there are powerful ingredients such as Vitamin C and Retinol which can visibly help with treating hyperpigmentation, we’ll be exploring three alternative ingredients to help treat hyperpigmentation in those with sensitive skin.


Tranexamic Acid

Tranexamic Acid is a synthetic derivative of the amino acid Lysine. It is an acid that is known for its ability to brighten the skin’s complexion and improve the appearance of discoloration. This compound was originally used as a medication to treat and prevent excessive blood loss due to trauma, postpartum bleeding and heavy menstruation. However, an accidental discovery by a medical professional found that Tranexamic Acid helped lighten skin discoloration.


How does Tranexamic Acid work on hyperpigmentation?

The occurrence of hyperpigmentation after inflammation is a common condition seen in situations related to acne, psoriasis and eczema. When the skin undergoes various acute or chronic inflammatory reactions, the skin cells are triggered to release inflammatory compounds known as inflammatory mediators that participate in the release of melanocytes. Melanocytes are cells responsible for the production of melanin, which are compounds that give rise to the pigmentation that you see on your skin. Tranexamic Acid disrupts this cascade by intervening in the release of the inflammatory compounds and blocking the interaction between melanocytes and the cells on the skin’s surface.


What concentration of Tranexamic Acid is recommended to treat hyperpigmentation?

Research has shown that a concentration of 5% Tranexamic Acid is just as effective at treating hyperpigmentation as 3% of Hydroquinone.



The Mary & May Tranexamic Acid + Glutathione Eye Cream is a great option to treat hyperpigmentation under the eye, as well as, spot hyperpigmentation treatment for general areas of the face.


Kojic Acid

Kojic Acid is naturally found as a metabolic by-product of a few species of fungi from the Aspergillus family. It is also a by-product in the fermentation of malting rise in the manufacturing of sake. Incorporating products containing Kojic Acid into your skincare routine helps reduce hyperpigmentation for brighter looking skin.


How does Kojic Acid work on hyperpigmentation?

Tyrosinase is an enzyme located in melanocytes that is responsible for triggering the production of melanin and other pigments. Kojic Acid is a nature-derived active ingredient that works as a Tyrosinase inhibitor. It functions to restrict the production of melanin by inhibiting the enzyme Tyrosinase without destroying the melanin itself.


What concentration of Kojic Acid is recommended to treat hyperpigmentation?

Kojic Acid is generally used at a concentration between 1% to 4%. There isn't enough research to show a significant effectiveness of Kojic Acid in treatment of hyperpigmentation alone. However, a study that compared 2% of Kojic Acid with 10% Glycolic Acid and 2% Hydroquinon versus without Kojic Acid did show a significant improvement in melasma in the treatment routine involving Kojic Acid.



Niacinamide which is a form of Vitamin B3 that is naturally derived from Nicotinic Acid found in brewer’s yeast. Aside from improving the skin’s hydration and stimulating the production of collagen to strengthen the skin barrier, Niacinamide has shown to lighten the skin tone by affecting the melanocytes in the skin cells.


How does Niacinamide work on hyperpigmentation?

Melanin are produced in the deepest skin layers and generally migrate to the top of the skin over time and this is where the effects of hyperpigmentations are seen on the cells at the surface of the skin known as keratinocytes. Niacinamide molecules have the unique ability to block the movement and transfer of melanin from melanocytes to keratinocytes, which effectively lightens the skin over time.


What concentration of Niacinamide is recommended to treat hyperpigmentation?

Clinical trials using 2% of Niacinamide has shown to significantly reduce the total area of hyperpigmentation after 4 weeks of treatment. The concentration found in non-medical skincare products can go as high as 5% to treat hyperpigmentation.


The Mary & May Niacinamide + Chaenomeles Sinensis Serum contains 2% of Niacinamide that is gentle for sensitive skin.


If you are looking for more effective hyperpigmentation treatments for sensitive skin, the Sollalla Multi Vitamin B Cream is a gentle alternative that also contains Panthenol and Ceramide to strengthen the skin barrier.


How to increase the absorption of hyperpigmentation treatments?

Our skin shed approximately 600,000 particles every hour, which is about 0.03g to 0.09g in weight every hour. That is a lot of dead skin cells! In order for any treatments to absorb effectively into the skin, exfoliation is important. With the science and technology that we have today, chemical ingredients with mild exfoliating properties such as Azelaic Acid, Gluconolactone and Lactobionic Acid are some of the less irritating skin exfoliating options for those with sensitive skin.


Now that you have learned about the alternative ingredients to help with hyperpigmentation in those with sensitive skin, which are these ingredients that help with hyperpigmentation would you include in your skincare routine?



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Fu, J. Chen, J., Lu, L. Yi, X. Tong, L. Kang, S. Pei, Y. Ouyang, L., Jiang, Y. Ding, X. Zhao, S. Li, Y. Yang, J. Huang, Q. Zeng. Roles of inflammation factors in melanogenesis. Mol. Med. Rep. 2020 Mar; 21(3): 1421-1430 doi: 10.3892/mmr.2020.10950


Hakozaki, L. Minwalla, J. Zhuang, M. Chhoa, A. Matsubara, K. Miyamoto, A. Greatens, GG. Hillebrand, DL. Bissett, RE. Boissy. The effect of niacinamide on reducing cutaneous pigmentation and suppression of melanosome transfer. Br. J. Dermatol. 2002. Jul;147(1):20-31. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2133.2002.04834.x.


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