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Misconceptions about hyperpigmentation.

Misconceptions about hyperpigmentation.

Vascular issues, sun exposure, skin aging, hormones... hyperpigmentation is a disruption of the skin's natural pigmentation process, resulting in an excessive accumulation of melanin. While it's quite common, there are still many misconceptions about it. In this article, let's untangle the truths from the myths together.

Misconception #1: Pigment spots are always visible.

False, emerging spots are not yet visible to the naked eye. However, they can be detected during a skin diagnosis performed by a specialist. For this, they use a skin analyzer that employs two types of technology:

  • the RBX technology which detects melanin and hemoglobin to identify lesions, such as veins, hyperpigmentation, rosacea, and acne;

  • the UV photography which allows the identification of sun damage such as sun spots.

They will evolve over the years and become increasingly noticeable if continued unprotected sun exposure persists. Therefore, it is recommended to take all precautions to protect your skin daily. Don't wait for spots to appear before you start applying sunscreen.

Misconception #2: Hyperpigmentation is a skin disease.

True. Hyperpigmentation is a pigmentation disorder, characterized by an overproduction of melanin by the melanocytes. It can manifest in various clinical forms, including the pregnancy mask (melasma) and age spots.

Misconception #3: Dark and tan skin does not need sun protection during pregnancy.

False! Melasma, often referred to as the "mask of pregnancy," is particularly common in individuals with darker and olive skin tones, as they tend to produce more melanin. It is characterized by patches that can appear on the forehead, nose, around the upper lip, chin, and cheekbones. It affects 70% of pregnant women, typically starting in the fourth month of pregnancy. Regardless of your skin type, it's important to protect yourself from the sun all year round and at any stage of life.

Misconception #4: Melasma only affects pregnant women.

False! Melasma, also known as the mask of pregnancy, can occur in women who are not pregnant, as well as in men. It often forms following hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy, hence its nickname, or also when taking a medication that affects the hormonal system. Exposure to the sun or the use of oral contraceptives can also lead to the development of melasma.

Misconception No.5: Once hyperpigmentation has been treated, the results are long-lasting.

False! Hyperpigmentation will always occur in the case of overexposure to the sun without protection. It is therefore essential to protect your skin against UV rays throughout the year, both summer and winter. Protection involves applying sunscreen evenly, even if you do not plan to expose yourself directly to the sun. Moreover, certain forms of hyperpigmentation, such as melasma, have hormonal origins, which, even when treated, can reappear due to hormonal relapses.

Misconception #6: Freckles are a form of hyperpigmentation.

It's true! Freckles are caused by hyperpigmentation of the skin. However, the mechanism of their appearance involves a different type of melanin, known as pheomelanin. The freckles usually appear during the first three years of life, while sunspots intensify and become increasingly numerous with age. Moreover, freckles have a genetic origin, which is not the case for sunspots.

Misconception #7: Pigment spots can only be corrected through invasive methods.

False! The treatment of pigmented spots is not only done through invasive methods, such as peeling, laser, or even drug treatments. Topical treatments have shown their effectiveness in treating pigmented spots. Certain active ingredients such as arbutin or tranexamic acid act on tyrosinase, the enzyme that activates the production of melanin, by inhibiting its activity.

Other active ingredients such as niacinamide inhibit the transfer of melanosomes to keratinocytes, which is responsible for the pigmentation of the epidermis. There are now serums and creams with exfoliating actives (AHA or BHA) that help to reduce the appearance of pigmented spots. These molecules eliminate keratinocytes by breaking ionic bonds, thus destabilizing the stratum corneum and causing its gradual detachment.

Misconception #8: Pigment spots appear with age.

True and false. Pigment spots are one of the consequences of overexposure to the sun, thus they appear with age. They are referred to as "age spots". However, other types of pigment spots are not related to age, such as melasma.

Misconception #9: The blue light from screens can cause hyperpigmentation.

True. A study on melanocytes exposed to artificial blue light showed a significant darkening of extracellular and intracellular melanin pigments. However, further studies will be conducted to clearly explain the effect of blue light on hyperpigmentation.


  • HANIF N. & al. Plant-based skin lightening agents: A review. The Journal of Phytopharmacology (2020).

  • LORRIO S. & al. Protective Effect of the Aqueous Extract of Deschampsia antarctica (EDAFENCE®) on Skin Cells

    against Blue Light Emitted from Digital Devices. international Journal of Molecular Sciences (2020).

  • RIGOPOULOS D. & al. Hyperpigmentation and melasma. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology (2007).


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