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What is hyperpigmentation?

Speckles, freckles and sometimes unwanted blemishes. Otherwise known as hyperpigmentation, or nature very much doing its thing in terms of protecting your sensational skin from the sun’s harmful rays. And in her own way, nature is a talented artist popping the finishing touches or beauty spots just where we like them. Or, on the other hand, sometimes going slightly off-piste and making her mark just where we don’t want her to. Hyperpigmentation is light brown to black skin spots or patches appearing in any shape or size, in clusters or solo. They’re very common and are mostly harmless.

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What causes hyperpigmentation?

Skin hyperpigmentation is a great example of our clever human bodies working with nature. Our skin’s genius has developed alongside the sun – sounds out there, but it’s true. We have clever skin cells called melanocytes designed to produce melanin (a skin pigment that ranges in color from dark brown to black) which absorbs and scatters the sun’s UV rays to protect skin cells. That’s why people who’ve lived in sunnier climates for generations sometimes have darker skin than those who’ve lived in cooler climates. When any of us are directly in the sunshine, our melanocytes can multiply and distribute unevenly and create what we know as hyperpigmentation or darker spots and patches on our skin.

What are the characteristics of hyperpigmentation?

Sun spots

Sun spots are the most common type of hyperpigmentation. We know these are caused by the body’s natural defense when we over-expose it to the sun’s harmful UV rays, but what do they look like? They tend to appear on parts of your body that see the sun the most, so your face and hands mostly. They can be black, brown or grey and show mostly as freckles or splodges.

Post-Inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH)

This is when skin changes color anywhere on your body after damage such as a wound, a rash or sometimes acne. That’s because melanin is produced when skin is healing and overproduction can form patches of a different skin color, ranging from white, pink to red, purple, brown, or black, depending on your skin tone. Always see your doctor if you have any concerns.


Melasma is another type of hyperpigmentation where your skin responds to hormonal changes in your body. It tends to be more common in women, quite often during pregnancy or if you’re using hormone based contraception. Here skin tends to form patches of black or brown on the face or sometimes your tummy. Do talk to a doctor or dermatologist if you’re worried.

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How to help with hyperpigmentation

The most common cause of hyperpigmentation is overexposure to the sun, because our bodies will produce more melanin than usual to protect skin from UV light. Take good care of the skin you’re in with our tips on how to help protect skin from the sun.

If you’re looking to achieve a more harmonious complexion, a solid skincare routine is a good place to start. Our Vitamin C skincare is made with up to 10% vitamin C. Best known for its glow-getting prowess, vitamin C is an antioxidant that’s known to help promote a more even-looking skin tone and is even known to help impede melanin production. Read our guide for more tips on how to help achieve an even-looking skin tone.

The best products to help with hyperpigmentation

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Vitamin C Glow Revealing Serum

Made with a whopping 10% vitamin C, this light and zingy serum is enriched with our highest concentration ever. It’s clinically proven to help reduce the appearance of uneven pigmentation1, leaving skin feeling smoother and plumped with 24hr moisture, with a giddy glow.

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Vitamin C Concealer

Enriched with vitamin C, this lightweight, crease-free formula hits the sweet spot between mid to full coverage. Tap it under the eyes and over dark spots to smooth the appearance of hyperpigmentation and spotlight skin’s radiance in all the right places. It’s certified by The Vegan Society, suitable for all skin types and available in 20 shades for the perfect match.

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Our new Vitamin C range is now made with concentrations of up to 10% vitamin C. Our range helps reduce the appearance of uneven pigmentation and leave skin with a super glowy, radiant finish, making it perfect for every day.

Filipa Loureiro

The Body Shop Skincare Expert

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Help to help get an even-looking skin tone

Looking to help blur blemishes or reduce the appearance of uneven pigmentation? Let our beauty and lifestyle tips get you on track to an even, cared-for complexion.

*Clinical tests performed on a 22 Asian panel over 8 weeks including both instrumental measurement (spectrophotometer) and clinical scoring, where the technician grade the subject’s skin from 1-9.