Hyperpigmentation, or dark patches on the skin, is caused by aging, sun exposure, acne, hormonal problems, and other health problems. Fortunately, many people who suffer from this condition, including people of color, can reduce or eliminate the appearance of dark patches by using hyperpigmentation peels. When selecting a hyperpigmentation peel, you'll need to choose between at-home and dermatologist-provided peels as well as over-the-counter and prescription treatments. You can increase your chances of selecting an effective treatment by looking for certain active ingredients, weighing the side effects against the benefits, and considering the ongoing costs of various peels.
A hyperpigmentation peel done by a dermatologist typically contains a larger amount of active ingredients than at-home peels. These ingredients are responsible for reducing the appearance of dark patches, and peels containing higher concentrations of them might produce noticeable results faster than at-home versions. Peels that are administered by dermatologists, however, tend to cost more than products that are used at home. If cost is an issue, you might be able to achieve the same results as a professionally-administered peel by using a prescription product or by using an over-the-counter peel for at least three months.
Hyperpigmentation peels contain a variety of active ingredients. These might include alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), kojic acid, azelaic acid, or hydroquinone. These either help the skin shed dead skin cells at a faster rate than normal or prevent the production of melanin, which is responsible for producing the skin's color. Some products might contain a combination of active ingredients, and this might produce better results for some people. In general, AHAs aid with exfoliation, while kojic acid, azelaic acid, and hydroquinone prevent the production of melanin.
You should always check the concentrations of active ingredients in over-the-counter hyperpigmentation peels before making a purchase. If the concentration is too low, the product might not work, and if it is too high, the product might cause skin irritation, such as redness and excessive peeling. In general, products with AHA concentrations over 15% produce results in most people, but some people require higher concentrations. Over-the-counter products containing hydroquinone are limited to a maximum concentration of 2%, which is effective for some people. The effects produced by hydroquinone, kojic acid, and other skin lighteners can be increased by using a hyperpigmentation peel containing an exfoliant, such as an AHA.
The chemical exfoliants and lighteners used in hyperpigmentation peels can cause side effects. In general, you are more likely to experience these when using a hyperpigmentation peel containing high concentrations of active ingredients. Some of the side effects that you might experience include peeling, redness, and itching. Many products also cause an increased sensitivity to ultraviolet (UV) light, so it is important to limit your sun exposure and wear sunscreen daily. Hydroquinone might cause black freckles to appear on dark skin if it is used for an extended period of time.
You should consider how the side effects of a product will affect your daily life. If you get a professional chemical peel, for example, your skin might be red and sensitive after the treatment, and you might not want to go out in public until you've healed. Additionally, if you work outdoors or spend a great deal of time in the sun, it might be safer to start using a hyperpigmentation peel during a cold season.
Typically, you must undergo several hyperpigmentation peels before you see any results. If cost is an issue, you should determine how much you're willing to spend on face or body peels. At-home hyperpigmentation treatments, whether they're over-the-counter or prescription products, tend to be more affordable than a single professional peel. Some dermatologists also sell affordable peels for home use that are almost as strong as the peels they apply in their offices.