Skin issues like acne and brown spots can be scarring, not just physically, but emotionally, too. To say I struggled with acne as a pre-teen is an understatement, so when my blemishes came back last year out of the blue, I was heartbroken. Thankfully, if you have the right experts and products to help you, you can remedy the problem—and hyperpigmentation creams can do just that when it comes to discoloration. Although acne gets brought up more frequently, hyperpigmentation affects millions of people in the U.S. alone.

Hyperpigmentation is an overarching name for when patches of skin become darker than others around it. “It’s caused when melanin—what gives our hair and skin color—is overproduced in certain spots on the skin,” Dendy Engelman, MD, a New York City–based dermatologic surgeon, tells us. “Melanin goes into overproduction in the sun to protect our skin from harmful rays, causing them to look darker than your natural skin tone.” (In case you were wondering since they’re typically mentioned together, melasma is a specific type of hyperpigmentation that appears as discolored splotches on your face, primarily your cheeks, bridge of your nose, forehead, chin, and upper lip.)

“This contains heparan sulfate, which works at the cellular level to rejuvenate the skin and reverse pigmentation. It doesn’t cause skin irritation and has the advantage of other anti-aging ingredients to help with overall skin brightening.” — David Shafer, MD, FACS, double board-certified plastic surgeon in New York City

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