ESC: Pigmentation

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Summer…it's a blessing and a curse.

While we can't get enough of the backyard BBQs and beachside festivities, the warm weather can wreak havoc on our skin—especially for those with hyperpigmentation, or patches of darkened skin typically caused by sun damage, inflammation, injuries or excess melanin production.

During other seasons, you've got covering those dark spots down pat, but when the sun is at its highest and your makeup melts faster, that uneven tone keeps creeping to the surface. How do you prevent this, you ask?

ESC: Hyperpigmentation

Makeup Matters: Sure, you can use movie-grade cover-up and camouflage foundation like Dermablend Cover Creme to hide your hyperpigmentation, but summer is about wearing less. You want to avoid any melted beauty blunders, after all.

"Sometimes, I just use a peach waterproof eyeliner directly onto the hyperpigmentation on dry skin, let it set and go about with my normal tinted moisturizer or foundation, then add bronzer," suggested celeb makeup artist Suzie Kim. "A dewy finish refracts light better than a matte finish."

If you're in need of more coverage, keep in mind a peach-colored concealer. If you have a darker complexion, go more orange. If the pigmentation is redder in hue, try a green-ish cover-up. Reminder: This color-correcting step is meant to cover your pigmentation—not your skin—which should then be met with a foundation that matches your natural skin tone.

ESC: Hyperpigmentation

The Stronger Stuff Helps: If makeup ain't cutting it, you can always go the medicinal route. "There are a number of modalities that can help reverse hyperpigmentation," said Dr. Glenn Vallecillos, of celeb haven DMH Aesthetics. "Among the most common are bleaching or fading creams, with ingredients such as hydroquinone, kojic acid, azelaic acid and retinoids. Additionally, light therapies such as IPL, or intense pulse light therapy, can accelerate the reversal of hyperpigmentation."

A hero ingredient in the skin-care industry, retinol is often used in products to help promote collagen production and fade discoloration, among other skin-booting effects. However, it doesn't always work. "If retinol by itself is ineffective, a bleaching regimen is the next line treatment, which, in our office, includes a combination of retinol, hydroquinone and kojic acid," noted Dr. Vallecillos. "This is typically very effective in reversing and or eradicating hyperpigmentation."

ESC: Hyperpigmentation

When Nothing Has Worked: You've tried everything—now what? "Sometimes, hyperpigmentation can have hormonal components, which make treatment with topical therapies and light therapy less effective. A common example is melasma, which is exceedingly difficult to treat," warned Dr. Vallecillos. Of course, it's always best to consult with your doctor before trying any intense ingredients or procedures.

Sunblock Is Key: "Sun exposure is a contributing culprit to hyperpigmentation and should be avoided at all costs in areas of concern," added the expert. "A good mechanical sunblock containing titanium dioxide is a good place to start. NIA 24 is our preferred sunblock."

Smashbox Always Sharp Waterproof Kôhl Liner, $20; Murad Rapid Age Spot and Pigment Lightening Serum, $60; Sun Damage Prevention 100% Mineral Sunscreen SPF30, $49

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