Rana Good is the founder of Naïra NYC. A writer for publications such as Forbes, Travel + Leisure, Coveteur, Mens Journal and others, she created her own platform celebrating women of color.
Hyperpigmentation around the mouth is a common skin issue but many don’t know why dark spots form in this specific area. To get to the bottom of it we spoke to Dr. Liia Ramachandra, skincare expert and CEO/founder of EpiLynx about some of the causes of hyperpigmentation in this area. We also get skincare recommendations to help manage hyperpigmentation. If you have hyperpigmentation around the mouth, read on to find out how to remedy your dark spots.
In what ways do women of color uniquely experience hyperpigmentation?
Dr. Liia Ramachandra: Hyperpigmentation refers to dark spots, age spots, and uneven skin tone caused by the overproduction of melanin (the color-producing pigment) in the skin. Women of color have naturally melanin-rich skin. With age, exposure to the sun, injuries, hormonal changes, and more cause dark spots and discoloration. Every person will experience some hyperpigmentation regardless of color, but women of color are more prone due to naturally melanin-rich skin.
What does hyperpigmentation around the mouth look like?
Skin discoloration around the mouth is caused by excess melanin production in your skin. Hormonal changes, medications, and sun exposure are related to hyperpigmentation. Hyperpigmentation can occur around your eyes, as spots on your forehead and cheeks, and around the mouth. Hyperpigmentation is something that many people will experience throughout their life, and the area around the mouth is particularly prone to this condition. Patches of skin can become noticeably darker when there is an excess of melanin.
What causes hyperpigmentation around the mouth?
Same as for all hyperpigmentation, (unprotected, read without SPF) sun exposure is the main cause of hyperpigmentation. But it also can be caused by nutritional deficiency, hormonal changes, and injuries.
How do you treat hyperpigmentation around the mouth?
There are various treatments such as:
1. Prescription-strength retinoids or hydroquinone
2. Kojic acid for melasma and age spots (think creams with kojic acid)
3. Laser therapy for dark spots
4. Chemical peels to help exfoliate the skin and reduce the appearance of pigmentation
What are your favorite products to use for hyperpigmentation?
My favorite products are noninvasive, gentle creams with kojic acid, brightening creams with alpha-arbutin and ascorbic acid, and vitamin C serums.
What are some myths that are untrue surrounding hyperpigmentation?
Some of the myths are:
1. Using a facial scrub or exfoliant can remove my stubborn pigmentation.
That’s not how it works, this actually can make it worse. Pigmentation is caused by melanocytes or pigment-producing skin cells – this gives our skin its color. Melanocytes are generally triggered to produce more melanin (i.e. giving rise to darker spots on our skin such as melasma, freckles, or age spots) by excessive exposure to UV rays or hormonal changes in our bodies. Given that they are cells located deep within our skin, they can’t be removed simply by exfoliating the top layers of our skin.
2. Once it’s gone, it won’t come back.
Unfortunately, given the fact that UV exposure, the aging process, and hormonal changes are all dynamic processes, pigmentation will keep developing.
What are some ways to avoid hyperpigmentation?
1. Stay out of the sun when unprotected. Always use SPF products when going outside all year round.
2. Use Vitamin C serums
3. Protect your skin with a hat or clothes.