A Hyperpigmentation Survival Guide

Those spots and redness often left over after a breakout? Acne's last laugh, we call it. Follow this guide to the best products and treatments, and you'll get the *last* last laugh—not to mention a beautiful, no-makeup-needed complexion.

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The Ingredients You Need

Azelaic Acid

Azelaic acid is anti-inflammatory and antibacterial (so it prevents breakouts) and is often used to treat acne and skin pigmentation issues.

Licorice Root

Anti-inflammatory that is often used to treat redness, dullness, and skin discoloration: it lightens scarring and hyperpigmentation gradually.

With ingredients that fix hyperpigmentation, you don't have to spend extra time applying various concealers. Photograph courtesy of Marco Tassini/Getty Images
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This form of vitamin B3 is an excellent anti-aging treatment; it also fights redness in acne-prone skin, minimizes hyperpigmentation, and treats acne breakouts, in general.


A form of Vitamin A that helps regulate cell turnover, retinoids help reduce fine lines, wrinkles, and acne. A lot of prescription topical acne products are some form of vitamin A.

Sheet masks hydrate and even out your skin tone. Photograph courtesy of Kris Connor/Getty Images
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Snail Secretion Filtrate

Yep, snail secretion is very moisturizing: it contains hyaluronic acid, glycolic acid, copper peptides, and other elements that help stimulate the production of collagen (which means it can help repair collagen damage resulting from hyperpigmentation issues). Also, snail mucin collection is cruelty-free—a major plus.

The Products You Want

Blemishes are annoying, let's face it. Our hormones are, alas, not 100 percent under our control. You might not be able to spring for laser treatments, but plenty of over-the-counter products can help.

Phytowash Yerba Mate Bubble Peeling by Goodal, $33, memebox.com.

A combination of green tea, other natural ingredients, and salicylic acid help this product gently exfoliate dead skin cells off your face with bubbles, promoting cellular regeneration that leaves your skin smooth.

Brightening Peeling Gel by Dr. G, $28, glowrecipe.com.

This product, with cellulose and vitamins, is a miracle for unevenly textured skin. After exfoliating, it will give your skin is a nice dose of vitamins for brightening, regeneration, and hydration. First it softens, then it exfoliates, and then it calms.

Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence by Cosrx, $16, memebox.com.

Snails? On your face? Yes, we're bringing this up again. Snail mucin is dermatologically proven to be amazing for acne-prone skin: it's very hydrating and helps with cell turnover and redness, too. This (vigorously filtered) stuff is—you guessed it—96 percent snail secretion, which sounds gross and is a little. But all it means is that it is highly concentrated to be maximally effective. There also isn't anything else in there, except stabilizers, to make it as simple and safe for sensitive skin as possible.

Truth Serum Vitamin C Collagen Booster by Ole Henriksen, $48, sephora.com.

Vitamin C is a skin-care hero. This serum is especially good for its combination of green tea extract and vitamin E, so it packs a punch. It helps reduce inflammation, seal in moisture, and boost collagen levels in your skin.

Donkey Milk Skin Gel Healing Sheet Mask by Soo Ae, $20, jknlee.com.

A few years ago everyone was freaking out about the discovery of BB Cream, and now we're putting snails and donkey milk on our face like it's NBD. But you know, all these things work—and work really well. Though the mask name is Donkey Milk, it's the licorice extract and camellia japonica flower water, among other natural ingredients, that make this mask excellent for hyperpigmentation. (And the donkey milk is great for recovery and moisturization, too.) So this is a nuanced effort in anti-inflammation and moisturization. Five stars.

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