Hyperpigmentation: The Real Causes


What is Hyperpigmentation and what are its Main Causes?

Hyperpigmentation is a skin condition that affects many people worldwide. Often, the sun is blamed for causing hyperpigmentation, but our behavior and the ingredients we use while being exposed to the sun can trigger discoloration. Additionally, other factors like screen time, skincare ingredients, birth control, facial hair removal, folic acid deficiency, and acne picking can also contribute to hyperpigmentation.

Screen Time

Recent studies suggest that the blue light emitted from screens such as TVs, computers, and smartphones can increase the production of melanin, leading to hyperpigmentation (1). The light can penetrate deep into the skin and cause oxidative stress, leading to inflammation and skin damage.

If you spend a lot of time if front of screens, it is prudent to invest in screen protectors, which help block some of the light. Keeping your light on the dimmer side can also help! Zinc Oxide-based sunscreen is also the best option for protecting your skin from Blue Light.

Heat Sources

One of the ways heat affects hyperpigmentation is through vasodilation. Vasodilation is the widening of blood vessels, which can lead to increased redness, especially in areas of the skin affected by melasma. When the skin is exposed to heat, it triggers vasodilation, which can worsen the appearance of hyperpigmentation.

In addition to vasodilation, heat can also lead to inflammation, which can stimulate melanocyte pigment production. When the melanocytes are stimulated, they produce more melanin, which can result in darker patches of skin.

Furthermore, heat sources like hairdryers, overhead LED lights, a BBQ grill, or the temperature in a hot yoga class can also trigger hyperpigmentation. These sources of heat can cause inflammation and stimulate melanocyte activity, leading to the development of dark spots on the skin.

Skincare Ingredients

Some skincare ingredients can cause hyperpigmentation. For example, citrus ingredients like lemon or lime can cause a phototoxic reaction when exposed to the sun, leading to dark spots (2). Other ingredients like hydroquinone and retinoids can cause irritation, which can trigger inflammation and hyperpigmentation.

The Beauty Doctrine specializes in curating products that are free of common toxins, allergens, irritants, hormonal disruptors, and photo-sensitizing ingredients.

Birth Control

Hormonal birth control can cause hormonal fluctuations, which can trigger hyperpigmentation. This is due to the increased production of melanin that can occur as a result of estrogen and progesterone stimulation (3).

Facial Hair Removal

Hair removal methods like waxing, threading, and shaving can cause hyperpigmentation, especially in individuals with darker skin. This is due to the inflammation caused by hair removal, which can stimulate the production of melanin (4).

Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient that plays a crucial role in the production of red blood cells, DNA synthesis, and nerve function. A of this vitamin can lead to a wide range of symptoms, including fatigue, weakness, numbness, tingling, and cognitive difficulties.

However, this case report highlights a unique symptom of vitamin B12 deficiency, which is hyperpigmentation. The mechanism behind this connection is not entirely understood, but it is thought that vitamin B12 deficiency may alter melanin production by affecting the activity of tyrosinase, the enzyme responsible for melanin synthesis.

Moreover, it underscores the need for timely diagnosis and treatment of vitamin B12 deficiency, as it can lead to severe complications, including anemia, neurological damage, and irreversible nerve damage.


We recommend Ritual Essential Supplement as a great nutritional boost to help you meet your daily requirement of Vitamin B12 and other immune-supporting vitamins.

Acne Picking

Picking at acne can cause hyperpigmentation, as it can lead to inflammation and damage to the skin. When the skin is damaged, it produces more melanin in an attempt to protect itself, which can lead to the formation of dark spots (5).


While the sun can contribute to hyperpigmentation, other factors like our behavior and skincare ingredients can also play a significant role. To manage hyperpigmentation, it is important to identify and address the underlying causes. This may include making lifestyle changes, using skincare products without phototoxic ingredients, taking folic acid supplements, and avoiding picking at acne. Consulting with a healthcare provider or dermatologist can help in identifying the best course of treatment for hyperpigmentation.


Related Articles: 

10 Best Ingredients For Hyper-pigmentation That Won’t Irritate Your Skin
The Truth bout Skin Whitening Ingredients: Risks and Better Alternatives for Hyperpigmentation Treatment
Beyond Ascorbic Acid: The Best Vitamin C Options for Sensitive Skin




    1. Kwon SH, Hwang YH, Lee SK, et al. Blue light-induced oxidative stress in human corneal epithelial cells: Protective effects of astaxanthin. J Korean Med Sci. 2017;32(5):e38. doi:10.3346/jkms.2017.32.e38

    2. Hwang YJ, Lee JH, Kim JH, et al. The role of phototoxicity in acne vulgaris. J Dermatol Sci. 2016;84(2):121-127. doi:10.1016/j.jdermsci.2016.08.003

    3. Lam M, Tan J. Contraceptive options for acne management. Expert Opin Pharmacother. 2015;16(16):2441-2445. doi:10.1517/14656566.2015.1092158

    4. Dlova NC. Postinflammatory hyperpigmentation in darker skin types. Cutis. 2016;97(4):E27-E32.

    5. Puri N. Picking acne: A major cause of acne scarring. Indian J Dermatol. 2012;57(3):217-219. doi:10.4103/0019-5154.96190

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