Skincare Ingredients That *Actually* Work For Pigmentation


From sunspots to freckles and melasma, pigmentation can pop up in many ways. If you’re trying to figure out how to treat pigmentation, you’ll know firsthand that the pigmentation puzzle can be one of the trickiest skin concerns to solve.

Besides appearing in many different shapes and forms, pigmentation also has not one but many causes that can be responsible for its appearance. Sun exposure, hormonal changes, and even taking particular medications are just a few of the triggers thought to contribute to hyperpigmentation.

But, before we go any further, it’s worth saying that there’s nothing wrong with pigmentation marks. If you’re not interested in trying to get rid of yours, there’s no need to worry! However, there’s also nothing wrong with wanting to fade or reduce pigmentation either.

So, if you’d like to learn more about how best to approach the treatment for pigmentation, keep reading.

In this article, we’ll be stepping through everything you need to know about tackling pigmentation. From how to treat pigmentation, the best ingredients for pigmentation, and how to implement a skincare routine for hyperpigmentation, we’ve got you covered.

Let’s go!


Identify the cause
Before diving straight into a treatment for pigmentation, it’s important to first identify the cause so that any contributing triggers can be addressed. Pigmentation can be caused by many different environmental and lifestyle factors that can arise at different life stages.

We’ll chat through some of the most common causes - like genetics, sun exposure, and use of certain medications - below. While we can’t do much to change something like our genetics or stop taking medication we need for our health, we can certainly take steps to minimise our sun exposure.

Did you know there are around 125 genes that can influence skin tone? These genes determine how many melanocytes (which are the cells that produce the skin’s pigment, melanin). Depending on our genes, some of us may be more prone to developing pigmentation disorders - like post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation or melasma.

On the medication front, some types of antibiotics and birth control pills are thought to contribute to types of pigmentation being accentuated. If you’re concerned about a medication having an effect on your skin, it’s always best to schedule a chat with your doctor.

Sun exposure
Some of the most common types of hyperpigmentation are freckles, and dark spots caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun. To reduce your chances of developing UV exposure-related hyperpigmentation, avoid the sun where possible and always use sunscreen along with protective clothing, hats and eyewear. Sunspots known as solar keratosis are raised and rough and usually red or white in colour. Sunspots can be addressed with John Plunkett’s Sunspot Cream

Hormonal changes
The hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy are a common trigger for a pigmentation disorder known as melasma. Melasma can present as small, freckle-light specks on the complexion or larger areas of brown patches and spots.

Melasma during pregnancy is pretty common with around 15 to 50 per cent of pregnant women reporting experiencing it. Once it appears, it will generally continue to darken as the pregnancy progresses and will usually fade a few months following birth.

Want to know how to treat melasma? You’ll want to get onto a skincare routine for melasma that includes ingredients like hydroquinone to help fade the excess pigmentation such as the SuperFade range. We’ll go into more details on this below. Makeup can also be used in the meantime to help even out the complexion.

Post-inflammatory pigmentation
Have you ever dealt with pimples and been left with discoloured marks on your skin long after the breakout has cleared? This is known as post-inflammatory pigmentation, and it can arise alongside other skin conditions like acne or rosacea. 



Hydroquinone is known as the “gold standard” and one of the best ingredients for hyperpigmentation. It is a powerful depigmentation compound that works by inhibiting melanin production. Hydroquinone targets damaged melanocytes deep in the skin and helps to block them from producing the excess melanin that causes dark marks and melasma to form.

This ingredient is ideal as a treatment for melasma as well as other types of pigmentation.

Alpha Arbutin
A compound of hydroquinone, alpha arbutin fades pigmentation caused by UV exposure and free radicals. It promotes a brighter, clearer complexion overall by lightening discoloured areas and evening out skin tone. It helps to inhibit tyrosinase (an enzyme responsible for melanin production) and is a relatively gentle ingredient that is unlikely to cause irritation. 

Tranexamic Acid
Like hydroquinone, tranexamic acid helps to brighten the complexion, fade existing dark spots on the skin and prevent future pigmentation from occurring. It also has anti-inflammatory benefits and can help to calm and strengthen the skin’s barrier.

Niacinamide AKA vitamin B3 is a multitasking ingredient that reduces dark spots, smooths fine lines and wrinkles, soothes redness, and boosts hydration levels. It’s great to have in a skincare routine for dark marks as it bolsters the skin’s protective barrier and can help offset the sensitising effects of exfoliating ingredients like AHAs and BHAs.

Glycolic Acid
Derived from sugarcane, glycolic acid is an alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) that sloughs away dead surface cells. It’s often used as a treatment for dark marks because of its ability to exfoliate the top layer of the skin to reveal brighter, more even-toned skin. 

Lactic Acid
Similarly to glycolic acid, lactic acid is a naturally occurring alpha-hydroxy acid that promotes the shedding of dead skin cells. It gently exfoliates to help renew the complexion and is also great for decongesting acne-prone skin.

Salicylic Acid
Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) that also supercharges the skin’s renewal process by encouraging the shedding of dull, dead skin cells. It’s also an excellent ingredient for anyone dealing with acne as it loosens impurities from clogged pores and regulates sebum production. 


Now that you’re across the causes of pigmentation and the best ingredients for dark marks, it’s time to get your skincare routine sorted. The SuperFade range is home to some of the best products for uneven skin tone.

Formulated with potent active ingredients, SuperFade’s skincare lineup is designed to treat existing pigmentation and prevent future pigmentation from occurring in just three easy steps.

Before starting your three-step skincare routine, cleanse the face with a gentle pH-balanced cleanser to prepare the skin for treatment. A freshly washed face will help the active ingredients applied in the following steps absorb.

Now, let’s get into it.

Step #1: Exfoliate with SuperFade De Pigment Accelerator Serum
Combining the pigment-inhibiting properties of tranexamic acid with the skin-brightening benefits of niacinamide and exfoliating AHAs and BHAs, this dual-action serum helps to visibly fade pigmentation, melasma and brown marks. It’s suitable for all skin types and ideal for anyone dealing with mild pigmentation.

When incorporating SuperFade De Pigment Accelerator Serum into your routine, the key is to start slowly, as hydroquinone can initially irritate sensitive skin. Our suggestion? Apply SuperFade De Pigment Accelerator Serum every other night and gradually increase the frequency as tolerated. 

SuperFade De Pigment Accelerator Serum
Shop now at Priceline, Chemist Warehouse or your local pharmacy.

Step #2: Treat with SuperFade Face Treatment Cream (Medicated Treatment)*
Containing 2% hydroquinone and 1.5% salicylic acid, this pharmacy-strength medicated treatment cream is designed to help fade different types of pigmentation. It’s ideal for use on spots, freckles and discoloured skin blemishes.

Once the SuperFade De Pigment Accelerator Serum has been absorbed by the skin, apply the SuperFade Face Treatment Cream (Medicated Treatment) morning and night to the affected areas only. Begin using SuperFade Face Treatment Cream every second night for a week before progressing to nightly use. If this is tolerated by the skin, you can then progress to using it both morning and night. Use it for up to 12 weeks and then take a break from the treatment cream.

SuperFade Face Treatment Cream
Shop now at Priceline and Chemist Warehouse or your local pharmacy.

Step #3: Moisturise with SuperFade De Pigment Treatment Moisturiser  
This hydrating cream contains 2 per cent alpha arbutin which reduces melanin production to decrease areas of hyperpigmentation. SuperFade De Pigment Treatment Moisturiser is also formulated with 2% niacinamide to brighten and achieve a more even-toned appearance.

Finish your routine with SuperFade De Pigment Treatment Moisturiser both morning and night once the previously applied product has been absorbed. Following six weeks, of consistent use, you should start to see results from this skincare routine for pigmentation.

As melanocytes naturally continue to produce pigment, pigmentation treatment isn’t a “one-and-done” process - an ongoing maintenance regimen is required. In combination with sun protective measures, the SupeFade product range can be used year-round to keep unwanted pigmentation at bay.

SuperFade De Pigment Treatment Moisturiser
Shop now at Priceline and Chemist Warehouse or your local pharmacy.

Don’t forget your SPF

When using the SuperFade treatment range, it’s important to apply sun protection during the day as active ingredients like AHAs and BHAs can make your skin more photosensitive. 

SuperFade Super Screen SPF 50+** provides broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection while keeping the skin hydrated with aloe vera and vitamin E. 

Our tip? Keep a spare tube in your bag so that you can reapply it throughout the day.

Wondering where SPF fits in with the rest of your skincare routine? It should be applied following your moisturiser as the next step. If you’re going to be wearing makeup, it goes after skincare and before makeup.

SuperFade Super Screen SPF 50+, $28.99
Shop now at Priceline or your local pharmacy.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this guide on how to treat hyperpigmentation and have found this article useful. If you’re looking for more information on different types of pigmentation, check out our guide on Everything You Need & Want to Know About Pigmentation.


*Always read the label and follow directions for use.

**Always read the label and follow the directions for use. Wear protective clothing, hats and eyewear when exposed to the sun. Prolonged sun exposure should be avoided. Frequent use and re-application in accordance with directions are required for effective sun protection.


By Isobel Larkin   |   March 2024