A high-powered sunscreen is a must for dealing with uneven skin tone. Sunlight stimulates melanin production, which can worsen the problem and make other treatments less effective. The best sunscreen is one that protects against both UVA and UVB light and has an SPF of at least 30. Sunscreen isn’t just for outdoors. UVA rays can even penetrate glass, so it’s important to wear sun protection daily - even indoors.
Hydroquinone is a chemical that’s been used for more than half a century to treat uneven skin tone due to hyperpigmentation. It works by blocking the main enzyme involved in melanin synthesis. It works best when combined with glycolyic acid since the weak acid makes it easier for the hydroquinone to penetrate the skin. Glycolic acid also helps to slough off the outer layer of skin, which helps to remove superficial cells containing melanin.
Another chemical called kojic acid also helps to lighten pigmented areas that cause skin tone to be uneven. It’s a natural acid that’s a by-product of the fermentation process used to make Japanese sake.
Retinoids like those in prescription strength Retina-A are often used to treat acne and aging skin. Retinoids help to fade pigmented areas, but they work best when used in combination with hydroquinone. Otherwise, it can take 6 to 12 months to see results. Dermatologist can also do a series of facial peels using acids of various strengths to decrease pigmentation over time. Unfortunately, people with darker skin tones can sometimes experience increased skin pigmentation as a result of this treatment.
The bottom line:
There are a variety of effective ways to treat uneven skin tone that comes from overproduction of melanin. In many cases, a combination of hydroquinone and glycolic acid will fade darkened areas over time and improve skin texture too.