Listen y’all, this is my third time trying to write this post about hyperpigmentation! The first complete post did not save and my computer froze when I tried to save the second draft. I joked to Ginele that it is the universe saying why are you out here writing about skin care when India is dying from COVID, there’s anti-trans legislation, continued anti-Black racism and a myriad of issues.
Yes, those things are so so important to me but I’m really trying not to let the system play me like it so often plays Black people. Making us the worker bees of the world in addressing all the issues that exist instead of leaning into all our facets that exist as human beings. I mean, call your legislators, sign petitions, donate – all things I’ve done and do – without having a Black person remind you of it so we can just be ya know?
So, yes, today, we’re going to be talking skincare. One of my absolutely favorite things to nerd out over. From my teen years into my late 20s and early 30s, I’ve always had skin “issues”. What started off as adolescent acne grew into adult acne with the resultant hyperpigmentation and textured skin. For years, trips to the drugstore were not complete without venturing down the skincare aisle to try something new promising to get rid of my acne or my hyperpigmentation. As a Black woman with highly melanated skin, the options I found on the store counters always over promised and under-delivered in every capacity. I’m sure it didn’t help that I had the patience of a two-year-old in a candy aisle (thanks Ginele for the metaphor) in actually waiting to see if the new products were working before tacking on yet another product.
This basically resulted in me wearing full makeup almost every day of my 20s. And when I say almost every day, I mean exactly that. Even when I would work my 12 hour night shift gig as a nurse. It was always concealer, foundation, powder, lipstick, eyebrows, eyeshadow… the whole nine. I just thought that I really liked makeup – and I do – but it was more than that. It was a deep insecurity about how my skin looked in a culture obsessed with flawless skin. The days I couldn’t put on my full face armor, I avoided the mirror and just feeling less than pretty. I don’t know what happened, but in the last few years; I decided to to address the underlying skin issues that I wanted to correct.
That was when I found Gothamista who is a YouTuber who focuses on explaining active ingredients in skincare rather than empty promises and marketing catchphrases that are found on the front of products. So yeah, allow me to share some things I learned and what worked the best for me. I’m going to write about the particular ingredients first, then talk about how I went about incorporating them in a routine. If you’re Black or have darker skin and have hyperpigmentation, this is especially for you.
One of the biggest things that watching Gothamista’s videos gifted me was learning about The Ordinary, which is a company by the Canadian Deciem brand. The Ordinary products are a no frill product line that focuses on ingredients and so the prices are very affordable, allowing you to try things while figuring out what works for you and what doesn’t. This post is not sponsored or anything but yeah, 3 years later after I first discovered them, I’m still a stan! I will include my amazon storefront affiliate link for purchasing some of the ordinary products through that.
Let’s get started then, shall we!
First things first, none of this matters if you do not have the most important ingredient – PATIENCE! Literally, that is the one thing I really, really had to for us on. I basically had to force myself to sit on my hands for the first 6 months to a year of starting my skincare journey. And trust me, if you’ve dealt with skin issues, you know how hard this is. But I swear, without it, the journey wouldn’t have been successful. Literally, using the same products day in day out without visible results for 6-12 months is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done not going to lie. Whew!
For dark spots (hyperpigmentation) and brightening:
Ascorbic Acid (vitamin C)
For congestion and pores:
For chemical exfoliation (texture):
Oil (I prefer rose hip oil)
Using the above ingredients as a guide, this is how I put together a routine for my oily, dehydrated, acne prone skin.
General order of application of products:
- Cleanse (double cleanse at night)
- Treatment serum (acids, retinoid or serum used on different days as needed for hyperpigmentation, texture, blemishes etc.)
- AM routine:
- Cleanse with a moisturizing cleanser. I like Cerave Hydrating cleanser
- The Ordinary Ascorbic Acid 8% + Alpha Arbutin 2%
- The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%
- The Ordinary Hyalunoric Acid 2% + B5 as moisturizer
- Sunscreen (Supergoop unseen sunscreen is my fave)
- PM routine
- Cleanse with a cleansing balm (Farmacy Green Clean is my fave)
- Double cleanse with a salicylic acid cleanser (Cerave SA cleanser is bae)
- The Ordinary Vitamin C 23% in 2% HA
- Azalaeic acid, Lactic Acid, or Retinol as needed
- Squalene and/or rose hip oil
- Twice a week, exfoliate with The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% peeling solution (this here is liquid GOLD!)
And there ya have it! 12 months later, my skin looked remarkably different. It was fun to try other more expensive, more luxurious products later on, having a solid understanding of what does what. Today, my routine is much paired down as I’m using the Curology system where I cleanse, treat, and moisturize under the guidance of a dermatologist developed treatment serum incorporating active ingredients for my current specific skin needs.
The above picture was about a year into using The Ordinary products exclusively. And all the below pictures are of my skin today with no foundation or concealer.
This post is not comprehensive and you’ll need to do your own deeper research, taking into consideration your specific skincare needs. But people have asked me often throughout the years, so I wanted to get it down on paper.
Lemme know in the comments if you have questions. I created a link to most of the products mentioned here in my Amazon store front. It’s an affiliate link so I get a commission when you purchase through that link.l I wanted to give you an easy way to get access to everything mentioned.