There are a few reasons why your complexion could be getting darker. Hyperpigmentation is the most common and most harmless reason. Here’s what you need to know about it.
Dark skin is not hyperpigmentation
Hyperpigmentation is the darkening of the skin in patches or large areas. This is not the same as having a dark complexion. Hyperpigmentation means your complexion changes either partially (in patches or areas) or across your face and body. The difference between dark skin and hyperpigmentation is that people are born with darker skin while hyperpigmentation happens at one point or another and can fade over time.
Over the counter creams made to treat hyperpigmentation are made to lighten the skin indiscriminately and are sometimes very similar to skin lightening creams which will lighten both hyperpigmented skin and dark complexions.
Sun exposure can cause hyperpigmentation
Your holiday tan is a type of hyperpigmentation. Being out in the sun encourages your skin to produce more melanin to try and protect itself.
Melanin is the pigment that gives our skin its colour; dark-skinned people have more melanin than lighter-skinned people. Regardless of your race, being out in the sun can increase your skin’s melanin production and leave you with either darker tanned skin or patches of uneven skin tone.
Hyperpigmentation is not an illness
Although it is a skin condition that could worry you, hyperpigmentation is not an illness and doesn’t need treatment. There are steps you could take to prevent and reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation, but most cases of hyperpigmentation fade on their own.
Hyperpigmentation is not the only reason your skin could become darker; inflammation, irritation and other skin conditions can change the colour of your skin. If your skin becoming darker worries you or comes with other symptoms, consult a doctor before using any complexion correction or skin lightening creams.
Originally appeared on All4Women