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How Long Does It Take for Hyperpigmentation to Fade?

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A close-up of woman's cheek with hyper pigmentation.

Hyperpigmentation is a common skin concern that brings many to explore skincare treatments and dermatology. Hyperpigmentation can be a stubborn issue, whether it’s a cluster of freckles you’ve noticed after your beach vacation or a persistent dark spot from an old acne battle. But how long does it take to fade these unwelcome marks?

Hyperpigmentation is as individual as the person it affects, with treatment times varying according to numerous factors. While some may see a speedy resolution, others may be in for a longer journey requiring patience and persistence.

What Is Hyperpigmentation?

Hyperpigmentation occurs when an excess of melanin, the brown pigment that produces skin color, forms deposits in the skin. This can lead to darker spots or patches than the surrounding areas.  

There are several types of hyperpigmentation, including post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH), melasma, and sunspots. While these conditions may have different causes, they all result in darkened areas on the skin that can be difficult to diminish.

Types of Hyperpigmentation

  • Melasma: Typically driven by hormonal changes, often associated with pregnancy or birth control, and characterized by darkened patches on the face.
  • Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH): Dark spots that occur due to injury or inflammation to the skin, such as acne, eczema, or other skin trauma.
  • Age spots: Also known as liver spots or sun spots, these are common in areas exposed to the sun over time.
  • Picking: One of the most common ways people get pigment markings is by picking at their skin. 

Factors That Affect Hyperpigmentation

The time it takes for hyperpigmentation to fade dramatically depends on various factors, such as the cause of pigmentation and skin type. In rare cases, hyperpigmentation can heal on its own over time without any intervention. However, other cases require targeted treatment to accelerate the fading process.

UV Exposure

One major factor that affects hyperpigmentation is UV exposure. Melanin production is triggered by sunlight, which means long periods of unprotected sun exposure can lead to darker and more long-lasting hyperpigmentation. The sun’s rays can cause hyperpigmentation as a response to protect your skin. It will release pigment as a protective mechanism. This is why wearing sunscreen daily, even on cloudy days, is crucial in preventing and reducing the appearance of hyperpigmentation.


Hormonal fluctuations can also play a role in hyperpigmentation. Conditions like melasma, which is characterized by dark patches on the skin caused explicitly by hormonal changes, are more common in females due to shifts in estrogen levels during pregnancy or while taking birth control pills.

Inflammation & Injury

Inflammation and injury to the skin can also cause hyperpigmentation. Acne breakouts, eczema flare-ups, and cuts or burns can all leave dark marks behind as they heal. In these cases, treating the underlying inflammation and protecting the affected area from further damage can help diminish pigmented spots.

Factors Affecting Hyperpigmentation Fading Time

Fade times vary significantly by:

  • Skin type and tone: Darker skin tones may experience more persistent hyperpigmentation. This is because the increased melanin in darker skin can take longer to break down and fade.
  • Severity of hyperpigmentation: The deeper and more widespread the pigmentation, the longer it may take to fade.
  • Sun exposure: UV rays can exacerbate hyperpigmentation and slow the fading process. It’s essential to always wear sunscreen when dealing with pigmented spots.

Treatment Options for Hyperpigmentation

Several treatments can promote the fading of hyperpigmentation:

Chemical Peels

Chemical peels involve applying a chemical solution to the skin to exfoliate the top layer and reveal newer, brighter skin underneath. This can help fade pigmented spots over time.


Similar to a chemical peel, microdermabrasion also involves exfoliating the top layer of skin. However, instead of chemicals, it uses a diamond-tipped wand or fine crystals to remove dead skin cells gently. You can add on a chemical peel for even deeper exfoliation for better results.


Dermaplaning is a method of exfoliation that uses a surgical scalpel to gently scrape off the top layer of dead skin cells and fine facial hair. This can help improve the appearance of hyperpigmentation by promoting cell turnover, as well as making skin appear brighter.

Medical-Grade Facials

A licensed practitioner performs medical-grade facials and often combines multiple treatments, such as exfoliation, extraction, and hydration. These may also include the use of specialized products to target hyperpigmentation.

A young woman applying a facial cream in front of a mirror.

Topical Treatments

Topical treatments, such as creams, cleansers, toners, moisturizers, serums, masks, and suncare products, are also a good option to help fade hyperpigmentation over time. They contain:

  • Hydroquinone
  • Retinoids
  • Niacinamide
  • Vitamin C 


Microneedling is a minimally invasive treatment that uses tiny needles to create controlled micro-injuries in the skin, promoting collagen production and improving overall skin texture. This can also help reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation over time.


The best way to address hyperpigmentation is by preventing it in the first place. This means protecting your skin from sun exposure by using quality sunblock and avoiding picking or scratching at any blemishes that could lead to scarring or dark spots. Additionally, using professional-grade skin care products that are tailored to your needs and avoiding harsh chemicals can help prevent irritation and inflammation that may contribute to hyperpigmentation. Your skin care professional with be able to provide you with the guidance you need to bring out the best in your skin.

Expected Timeline for Hyperpigmentation to Fade

While timelines vary, some general expectations include:

  • Mild hyperpigmentation can begin to fade within 3-6 months with consistent treatment.
  • More aggressive treatments, such as chemical peels, may show results sooner but often require multiple sessions.
  • Severe cases of hyperpigmentation, such as deep melasma, can take a year or more to resolve.

Discover Hyperpigmentation Treatment in Scottsdale

Remember to seek professional advice to personalize your treatment plan and to make sure that the path to clear skin is safe and effective. Hyperpigmentation may be persistent, but clearer, more even-toned skin can be on your horizon with the many treatments available and a commitment to proper care. 

Contact us at Eye Lab in Scottsdale, AZ, and book a consultation today!

Eye doctor in Scottsdale, Serena Shao

Written by Dr. Serena Shao

Dr. Serena Shao was born and raised in southern California. She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of California San Diego in 2013. After completing her bachelor’s degree, Dr. Shao left sunny San Diego to pursue her dream in Chicago, where she obtained her Doctor of Optometry at Illinois College of Optometry in 2018.

Dr. Shao holds extensive clinical experience, including refractive and contact lens evaluation as well as the treatment of ocular pathology. She is fluent in both English and Mandarin Chinese.

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