Hyperpigmentation Series: ThisThatBeauty vs. Hyperpigmentation

Every now & then I like to republish this article for my many followers who deal with hyperpigmentation & inquire about my skin care routine. The blog post is currently about seven years old — but my core principles are timeless….

Grab a cup of tea, a big bowl of (ThisThatBeauty’s fav) popcorn, glass of vino, yummy cocktail, or what ever it is you reach for when you settle in for a good read. This article promises to be the longest post in ThisThatBeauty history.

I am often approached regarding my exact skin care routine. I must confess. This is an extremely difficult question to answer for a number of reasons:

1) Everyone’s skin is different and the results I achieve may or may not be similar for your sweet little face.

2) My skin care routine changes from season to season…and when I say “season to season” I am not referring to weather. I am referring to my different “skin seasons”. For example, there’s the “acne season”, where my primary focus is managing my annoying adult acne. There’s the “dry season” where I incorporate products that help remedy excessive dryness. Currently my skin is in “hyperpigmentation season” so my routine is very heavily and aggressively focused on remedying the dastardly dark spots that have taken up residence on my otherwise pristine (I kid) mug.

3) I regularly (and cheerfully) review/test/and flip flop from product to product….and allow me to clarify what I mean by “flip flop”. I only flip flop from product to product after I’ve used for the recommended time frame (usually 4-8 weeks). If there’s no adverse reaction, I generally stick with a product until its used up. I then write a review and decide to re-purchase or move on to the next one. However, I should note that even though I regularly review and switch products, there are certain skin care principles that are constant (more on that later).

4) My overall skin care routine is somewhat extensive. Just ask @KatAragon. We recently roomed together in LA and she lovingly poked fun at my diligent day and evening skin care rituals…but she also all but licked my face and marveled at how smooth and even my complexion is. (I kid about the licking, but I could tell she wanted to-LOL).

So for reasons 1 through 4, it is hard for me to give an exact run down of what my skin care routine is….No two faces are the same, my skin issues and products change often, and my overall routine is quite intense…I’ve actually seen eyes glaze over when I’ve tried to explain it all.

The main focus of this article is my current “skin season”HYPERPIGMENTATION, which is in bold and spelled out in caps to signify that I am yelling the word at the top of my lungs. Hyperpigmentation is no joke! It makes me feel angry, sad, insecure…and basically unpretty. So for this article I will share with you, the intimate details of my struggle with hyperpigmentation and the products I am currently using. Once I am through this particular “skin season” some of the products will likely change.

Before getting into the actual products, I have to take a small step back and talk a bit more about my overall skin care routine. As I’ve already said, my routines are “skin season” specific and change often. HOWEVER HOWEVER, there are CORE PRINCIPLES that are constant….cleanse, tone, eye cream, treat issues, anti oxidant serum, sunscreen, special treatment masks, regular facials and regular dermatologist visits.


I generally tend to favor gentle cleansers. I am usually on some sort of topical medication for acne management (currently using Evoclin foam) so I steer clear of harsh cleaners that will possibly conflict. However, the cleanser must clean deep enough to control my excessive sebum and oil production. A few of my fav cleansers include:

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser – It is super gentle and does no harm.

KISS MY FACE Exfoliating Face Wash – Don’t let the word “exfoliating” scare you. The formula is gel-like with no bits or particles. The cleanser gently uses the power of natural fruit acids to exfoliate the skin. Lemon Grass Oil is incorporated as an anti-inflammatory and astringent. Antioxidant Green Tea repairs damaged skin.

Lancome Creme Radiance – This clarifying cream to foam cleanser contains antioxidant White Lotus and soothing Rose de France to penetrate deeply without drying out the skin. I always feel brighter after using.

GRN Blue Chamomile Cleanser – Certified Organic Extracts of Chamomile, Rosemary and Green Tea. This gentle cleanser provides deep cleansing without harsh chemicals. It does not dry or irritate my skin.

So you see, I mainly use cleansers that are gentle and free of harsh irritants. My cleansers do rotate from time to time, but GENTLE is key for any cleanser I use. In addition, my Clarisonic Skin Care Brush is a staple. This brush is working miracles in my skin….*cue the parting of the sea and the conversion of water into wine*

This brush saves lives! I bought my first Clarisonic a few years back when Lady O (not Michelle, Oprah) touted the brush as one of her fav things. The brush flew off the shelves like Free Pancake Day at IHOP, but I was lucky enough track one down (and was later rather unlucky because I left it at a hotel and was forced to buy a replacement). For some odd reason I abandoned using the brush…bad move. During a skin care convo with my sister from another mister – Adri, she encouraged me to get back on my Clarisonic grind. I charged up the super sonic brush and have not looked back. My skin is, at this very moment, the best it has been in a long time. Regardless of the different cleaners I rotate, my Clarisonic skin care brush is a staple.


The next step of my skincare routine involves the use of a “gentle” toner. There’s that word again, “gentle”. My current favs are all awesome with a capital “A” because they are non-drying, contain no alcohol, and help to restore my skin’s balance after cleansing:

Chella Refining Tonic – Contains zinc and pomegranate. Is gentle and refreshing. The yummy pom scent is a bonus!

Renee Rouleau – Moisture Infusion Toner, Revitalizing Ginseng Toner, and Balancing Skin Tonic are my favs.KISS MY FACE Balancing Act Facial Toner – (Description from KISS MY FACE) Tone and nourish skin with organic ingredients. Revitalize tired skin with this blend of certified organic grapefruit, orange, ginger and lemon balm essential oils and extracts. Seaweed extract provides trace minerals while antioxidants Ester C® and Vitamin E help fight the signs of aging.

Again, the trend is “gentle” yet effective!

The last few steps in my general routine include acne medication, serum, eye cream, SPF, special treatment masks, regular check-ins with my derm, and somewhat regular facials.

And now, getting back to the main focus of this article, the next few products in my routine are formulated specifically to address my current “hyperpigmentation season”.

Are you surprised that I stated there will be a “few products” required to address hyperpigmentation? Well don’t be. Often times we expect one miracle product to solve our issues. I wish! The reality is that good skin takes a concerted and continued effort.

While this post is intended to share with you the products I am using to win my personal battle against hyperpigmentation, I also want to express my opinion that a lot of folks out there are slackin’ on their skincare pimpin’ and expect one miracle product to improve your skin. Girlfriends, I am here to tell you that if you are not properly addressing your skin from all angles, don’t expect the two or three hyperpigmentation remedies I’m about to recommend to work for you.

For example –

  • If you’re sleeping in your makeup….your skin is filthy and not properly repairing itself so don’t expect these products to work for you.
  • If you are not using sunscreen daily (preferably SPF30)…. don’t expect these products to dramatically diminish your hyperpigmentation.
  • If you do not properly exfoliate…do not expect these product to magically transform your roughness.

Am I making myself clear:) Good skin care is a multi-pronged approached. Whipping your skin into shape is serious business, kids. I highly suggest that you evaluate all aspects of your regime and not just place a band-aid. I am taking the time to highlight my core principles of skin care because I want you to understand that it takes a certain level of sustained commitment to achieve your desired results.

So having said ALLLLLLLL that (Whew, momma’s tired), I now want to share with you the products that I am currently using to address my hyperpigmentation. But remember, overall good skin care habits in conjunction with these products is the route that ThisThatBeauty wholeheartedly recommends.


I did not always have post acne hyperpigmentation. When I was in my early twenties and first started breaking out (Hello Adult Acne), my pimples usually healed without leaving a trace of its existence. This is no longer the case. I went through a terrible breakout phase last summer. The pimples were often cystic and extremely painful. After months of a couple pimples here and a couple pimples there, my face transformed from relatively blemish free to a face full of dark spots.

I went from skin like this (no makeup in pic):

To occasional breakouts like these (NSFW):

Which eventually led to lots of dark spots like these (DOUBLE NSFW):

I even ended up in my derm’s chair for cortisone shots:

With the help of great concealers by Cinema Secrets, Make Up For Ever, CoverFX, and BECCA, I was able to conceal the dark spots with minimal effort. But that was a band-aid, not the solution. The products I am recommending in this post are tried and true skincare solutions!

First and foremost, not to beat a dead horse because I already mentioned my Clarisonic in this post but ….hats off to my Clarisonic skin care brush. Its sonic technology gently and effectively cleanses my skin, clears pores, and really helps to improve my tone and texture. Everything about my skin improved once I started back using my Clarisonic skin care brush. Without proper cleansing, environmental stressors like pollutantion, oil and bacteria accumulate on the skin, clogging pores which causes blackheads, blemishes and dullness. Clarisonic’s gentle cleansing and massage help to prep my skin to better absorb my skin care products. In a study Clarisonic reported that after cleansing with their brush, skin showed a 61% improvement in the absorption of Vitamin C. They claim that skin becomes clean, clear and smooth—allowing skin to experience the full benefits of serums and moisturizers. I co-sign. The proof is in my gorgeous glowing skin….and did I mention I bought two Clarisonic brushes? Yea, its that serious!

For daytime I use Kiehl’s Highly Effective Skin Tone Corrector (KHESTC). This has been a staple in my anti-hyperpigmentation arsenal. I’ve been using for over four weeks and already see significant improvement.

KHESTC is formulated with a blend of antioxidants and acids that help to lessen the appearance of dark spots, sun spots, and uneven skin tone. KHESTC does not contain Hydroquinone. Instead it is made of a unique blend of Glycolic Acid, Emblica Fruit extract, and HEPES which KHESTC claims is as effective as 2% Hydroquinone and a safer, gentler combination of ingredients to achieve almost similar results.

Emblica Fruit extract contains a large amount of Vitamin C which serves to protect the skin from sun damage, promote collagen production, reduce inflammation, and help repair damaged skin. It is a natural antioxidant, which means it eliminates free radical damage to the skin. Emblica extract also works as a skin lightener. HEPES is an organic chemical buffer and acts as a hydrating agent to the skin. HEPES helps to eliminate roughness. It is as powerful as Glycolic Acid.

Glycolici Acid, a long time friend of mine, is essential because it works to dissolve the outer skin layer, breakdown hyperpigmentation, and reveal fresher looking skin. Glycolic Acid also helps to even out skin tone and improve texture/scarring.

I like that KHESTC is a corrector and antioxidant in one. That’s very important because it cuts down on the need for a separate antioxidant serum. The product comes in a gel like formula which is quickly absorbed into the skin. My one complaint about the product is the packaging. The metal tube oozes product long after you squeeze and dispense. This leads to the wasting of product. Here’s how I worked around this annoyance…I squeeze less than I need and allow the tub to ooze out additional product. Does this make sense? [UPDATE: KHESTC has been discontinued but try Kiehl’s Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution instead]

After applying KHESTC, I follow up with a healthy slathering of Clinique Even Better Skin Tone Correcting Moisturizer SPF20. I am eternally grateful to my beauty blogger bud who was kind enough to give me her press sample of Clinique Even Better Skin Tone Correcting Moisturizer SPF20. I had heard buzz from several friends in the industry that the moisturizer is effective in correcting hyperpigmentation. I used the product every morning for about 6-8 weeks and noticed that my dark spots were beginning to fade. Over time they became less and less obvious. After going through one full sized container, I rushed out and purchased another. I continue to use it today.

In the evenings, for the last 2-3 weeks, after cleansing, toning, eye cream, and Evoclin, I have been applying Murad Age Spot and Pigment Lightening Gel. Once again, I have my sister from another mister, Adri, to thank for turning me on to this product. I was complaining that I need another product in my anti-hyperpigmentation arsenal and she suggested stepping up my game with Murad Age Spot and Pigment Lightening Gel. NOTE: Your Hyperpigmentation might not require a treatment for day and a treatment for night….but you saw my pictures. I did not have time to play games. I should disclose that Murad contains 2% Hydroquinone. Momma’s not hear to judge, but merely inform. My dark spots, in my opinion, require a product like Keihl’s that’s safe for daytime use…AND a product like Murad’s that’s highly effective for evening use. Once my spots fade a bit more, I will transition off of the Murad because I don’t want to use a product with hydroquinone for an extended period of time. You definitely need to think long and hard about the severity of your hyperpigmentation and then choose a product accordingly. Consult your dermatologist…which is actually a very important step that I won’t spend too much time on today. But see your derm…I do, regularly. Over the counter products can be expected to do but so much. I usually get regular facials and Silk Peels (but I haven’t made time for either since starting this new regime…bad girl!).

After applying Murad, in lieu of a night cream I rotate between one of two Vitamin C serums. In the evenings I alternate between Mario Badescu Vitamim C Serum and MD Skincare Hydra Pure Vitamin C Serum. Both contain potent doses of Vitamin C and have proved effective in diminishing my dark spots. Sometimes I skip the serum and go straight for Creme de La Mer.

On a weekly basis I use enzyme masks like Chella’s Enzyme Exfoliating Crema Mask. I also alternate between at home peels like Erno Laszlo C Peel or MD Skincare Alpha Beta Peels.

I am incredibly pleased with the improvement I am seeing in my skin. If my skin remains on its current course, I hope to slay the hyperpigmentation beast and be blemish free by summer.

Here’s what I look like today…WITH NO MAKEUP!!! You will notice that my hyperpigmentation is SIGNIFICANTLY improved. Perfect? No! But definitely much improved. I feel I’m well on my way….

Hyperpigmentation is no joke! In my day to day as a makeup artist and beauty writer, I often come across women who struggle to remedy their hyperpigmentation. Often times in our insecure moments of weakness we purchase some random snake oil in hopes that we’ll wake up looking like new money. This is almost never the case, love bunnies. You must commit to improving the overall health of your skin. And that has everything to do with how you care for your skin from sun up to sun down and from “skin season” to “skin season”. Make the investment!

This is an extremely personal post for me. I went back and forth in my head debating whether or not to leak my “un-pretty” photos. In the end I decided to share my photos/experience and pour hours into writing this post because I want to help other women in the hyperpigmentation struggle. I want to arm you with the information and resources to improve your skin. Be empowered! I also want you all to know that you’re not alone…ThisThatBeauty’s been there too!

Please share this post with your girlfriends, aunties, roommates, etc. I hope this extremely long article is in some way helpful!

Please share your thoughts! Have I helped…or run-on for way too long? Leave a comment:)

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  • Thanks so much. I’m late to TTB’s blog. But love your snaps. I see that the Kiehl’s you mentioned is discontinued. Is there a Kiehl’s sub for the morning or should I go with the Clinique one.

  • Hi! I’m battling a season of hyperpigmentation. I follow you on IG and value all of your advise and tips. Can you do an update post on how you’ve maintained your dark spot free skin with recs for products that are currently available? That would be awesome!!!

  • Hi Felicia,

    I am an asian, and suffer from hyperpigmentation under my eyes. So i totally understand your pain.
    Personally, I ran from pilar to post to get the solution for it. I contacted Dermalogist like Dr. Zizmor and they couldnt offer any solution. Tried Hydoquinon for 3 months no result.

    However, what worked for me was a home remedy
    Ingredients: Turmeric powder, grinded oatmeal, lemon juice, yogurt and tomato juice.

    Mix them and apply for 10-15 mins everyday and you will see the difference.
    I really got my life back.

    Hope you like it tooo..Thanks for the article.

  • Thank you for this. Do you use the hyperpigmentation serums like the Murad one all over your face or just on the dark spots?

  • I have been experiencing hyperpigmentation issues for the past year. I’ve never had ANY skin issues before! It started on my shoulders/back, then crawled up the sides on my neck, and now on the sides of my face. I’ve been using Spectro Jel’s cleanser for blemish prone skin combined with benzoyl peroxide (5%) and vitamin E cream. I only started this routine a few days ago, but there is a slightly noticeable difference. The downside is that this made my skin go from normal/oily to dry. If I don’t notice any further changes, I will opt for the products suggested in your post. Thanks again, you have no idea how helpful this is to me!

  • When you wrote this, did Clinique offer the Dark Spot Correcter? Have you tried it? When I requested a sample of the Even Better Skin Tone Correcting Lotion, the sales lady said I’m supposed to use it with the Dark Spot Correcter. She said to use the Correcter day and night and the Lotion only during the day. If you haven’t tried it, why not?

  • Felicia – thank you for your article. I don’t need to tell you how many women you’ve connected with on this topic. The fact that you have so many comments and continue to receive more is proof of that. I thank you most for the complete openness, especially the “un-pretty” photos. I have my own “un-pretty” album on my phone. Every time I try a new product with the hope that this will be the one, I take a new ‘before’ picture. But it seems every new before picture is worse than the last one. I’m closer to 50 than 40 now and just keep hoping that changing hormones will change whatever causes my personal acne and hyperpigmentation woes and work it out for me somehow. No luck so far but I’m going to re-read your article, take notes and give it another try. Thanks for the hope and just knowing what a sister is feeling. You be well and stay beautiful. I’ll be looking for you on Twitter.

    • Hi Cynthia!
      I’m so happy to hear that this post remains helpful to so many women. I wish you well and please keep me posted…via Twitter or Instagram. My best! xxoo

  • First things first. You. Are. Stunning! I loved reading all of your amazing tips for hyper pigmentation! I have been suffering with acne since I was eleven, twenty seven years ago!!! It’s always this horrific cycle of try to clear the skin up but then have to wear so much makeup to cover all of my lovely friends(melasma, adult acne, scarring, and now, wrinkles)who have decided to camp out on my face and stay. You gave me
    hope!!!! Thank you!!! 😊😊😊😊😊

  • A friend of mine has recommended your blog to me recently and I’m your biggest fan already.
    Your skin is beautiful.
    I have minor hyperpigmentation on one side of my cheek. I’ve recently started using Murad gel at night, and I can see slight changes. I’ve tried purchasing Kiehls skin corrector and its been discontinued. Do you have another suggestion for something I can use during the day?

    • Hi DD! Kiehls has another daytime produc..I believe Clearly Corrective…or something like that. Also, Clinique Even Better with SPF is GREAT for daytime. I reco the oil free formula. Good luck!

  • Thank you for this informative post. I have been using Dr. Nick Lowe’s Super Light Skin Tone Proctor Cream, since January and have seen a big difference in my skin.

  • I was searching for information on hyperpigmentation and came across this article. Thank you for sharing your own story and skin care routines with others. I’m loving that Clarisonic brush too! Definitely want one of those and I see they have a few different versions.

  • Thanks so much for your honesty and guidance. Your hyperpigmentation journey is my journey. When using the spot treatments like Murad do you just place the product on the spots or place all over entire face? Thanks

  • I think I’m in love! Loved the post and all the suggestions. I too have seasonal skin and have to keep up! I’ve used most of the products listed here and those recommended. Thanks for the additional tips. I’ll incorporate them into my routine!

  • Ok, first let me say WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL MY LIFE? Well, with this post anyway. I am hyperpigmenting all over the place and I, like other HYPO sufferrers am open to anything. I can’t get to Mamies Skincare out on the West Coast as I used to so my skin has taken a toll. I Love Love this article Felicia. I’ve noted your suggestions and can’t wait to hit up my beauty counter tomorrow. I’ll keep you abreast of my progress. Thank you for being so generous with your info (including the photos).

    p.s. Nef also has amazing skin so both of you are visions of beauty if ya ask me…

    Thanks Friend!

  • Ladies, I would also love to add to Felicia’s hyper pigmentation journey, please be aware of your diet. You can follow a regiment to a T & not see any results if you aren’t conscious of what you put into your body. I would recommend either removing carbonated/caffeine drinks yes, that includes Starbucks frappes lol & instead substitute it with lots & lots of water, squeeze some lemon/lime for added health benefits, not only does it aid in weight lost (yippee !), it clears your skin by decreasing wrinkles/blemishes !

  • Thanks for sharing your journey!

    I’m the hyperpig queen-I have tried an alarming number of products for acne control and spot lightening. I don’t think I’ve had clear skin since the 5th grade actually. At times its much better than others…but never good enough to run out with gloss and mascara. I’ve been using some products from Osmosis that I think have helped control the breakouts and brighten the skin.

  • Hi Alicia! I follow you on twitter and I always love reading all your recommendations and insights! I’m very interested in targeting some hyperpigmented spots I’ve been struggling with on my chin area. I want to try the Kiehl’s Highly Effective Skin corrector but it seems like the product is no longer in production. Are you using a different day time product for when you target hyperpigmentation now? Is there a similar product that can yield good results? I’m currently living in Belgium, so some brands are not available here but I’m quite resourceful, the internet is magical thing!!

    Would love to hear your opinion! Keep up this great blog!

    • Hi Diana! Thank you so much for the thoughtful comment. Kiehl’s has a new product, Clearly Corrective…it’s fairly new. I’ve used it for overall brightening. You might like it for day and Dr Murad for night…depending on the depth of your dark spots. Tweet me if you need more help:)

  • Hi Felicia! Great post! I love how honest it is. I have neglected my Clarisonic as well so this has reminded me that maybe its what’s missing from my routine. I am now in the acne season, and I’m usually a pretty confident person – I had no idea acne could have such a huge psychological impact. The downward spiral in my confidence level is what worries me the most. Anyhow, what I’m really writing to ask is how did you conceal them? I’m dying to know and desperate to try. My acne is cystic and painful.I have a MAC concealer but it looks like what it is when I apply it – concealer over bumpy skin. Help!

  • Felicia,

    What a terrific post! Thank you.
    I’m on the opposite end of the spectrum – a redhead with white, white skin that’s super dry and never gets a breakout.
    However, 30 seconds too long in the sun and whoosh…I’m a freckled mess Freckles are the nice word for hyperpigmentatin due to sun damage. (& yes I use SPF 30+)
    So hyperpigmentation easily affects both of us with totally opposite skin issues.
    Like you, I’m a cheerleader for the Clarisoniic and sing it’s praises always.
    I loved the expanse of products you recommended and I think you’ve really shown that great looking skin is possible, but it does take work. I always get compliments on my skin and often asked, “what do you use”, but to answer would take an article as long as yours! lol!

    • BeautyNewsNYC: thank you so much for the thorough comment. I def feel like hyperpig due to sunspots/freckles is somewhat (dare I say ) easier to treat bc it’s not trauma induced spotting. Lots of brightening products are effective on freckles. I thank you so much for your perspective and input 🙂

  • One of THE best posts I’ve read about managing hyperpigmentation and our skins changing seasons. Your no makeup photos ate beautiful btw 😉 xoLiz

  • I am so elated to have had the opportunity to read this post! I believe I am now experiencing my own case of adult acne and have been looking for a resolution for months now as this is something that has dreadfully taken over my life!

    This was extremely helpful and will be taken into great consideration!

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

  • HI!!
    I just discovered you thanks to @berdorf’s and I’m so happy. This post has made me a life long fan. Thank you so much for your honesty and courage. I have hyperpigmentation and have been struggling with it off and on since my early twenties. I tend to quit as soon as I feel confident enough to be foundation free which is a problem. Seeing you pictures and learning about some new products has me ready to recommit. I cannot thank you enough and I encourage you to keep up the GOOD work!!

  • Interesting post. Up until recently I maintained my skin with very basic products;The body Shop tea tree face wash/toner/moisturizer/blemish stick, cetiphil lotion, and vaseline. I drink lots of water and never go to sleep with makeup on and this has worked for me. I amalso good about using sun block year round.

    Then I got facial shingles. A really severe case. It disfigured my face . I am now using scarfade which is working like a miracle on my the pox marks and keloids the shingles lesions left. The problem is the discoloration that resulted from multiple scabs. I may try the keihls once I am done with the scarfade. Fortunately I can mostly hide things with MUFE green color corrector and coverfx concealer and foundation

  • Your skin is so wonderful! I wanted to see about buying the chamomile cleanser, but it doesn’t look as if it is available for purchase anywhere on the internet. What do you use instead of this product since I am assuming it is discontinued?

    • @Anony – Thank you! Perhaps you’ll have success with some of the other cleansers I recommended. The main thing is to use a gentle cleanser. Good luck and please keep me posted!

  • hey girl! thank u for sharing with us. een tho u think ur kin s not perfect, girl compared to mine you are glowing lol. anyway, i wanted to be sure about the season thing. ive got really bad hyperpigment and at the moment acne breakouts too. so did u say ive got to focus on clearing the breakouts first and then focus on clearing the dark spots after???

    keep up the gud work

  • OMG … this is an amazing AMAZING piece and much needed by me. I’ve dealt with hyperpigmentation for some time, both from acne and a skin condition similar to eczema (sp?). I admit that I don’t follow a strict beauty routine, but this has definitely inspired me to kick start one. Especially now that I’m in my 30’s (I want to keep looking like I’m in my 20’s).

    THANK YOU for this, its a God send. 🙂

  • Hyperpigmentation is a huge issue, thank you for sharing your story with us. I have to keep my skin clear because I sell skin care for a living. No one would buy our products if my face was full of dark patches. I’ve been hooked on Clarisonic every since I read the study about a 61% improvement in the absorption of Vitamin C with the brush. Clarisonic and Vitamin C, perfect combo.

  • Felicia what an EXCELLENT article!! Thank you so much for sharing your trials, as well as, your triumphs in battling this. Your regiment is so on point and you really opened my eyes to the importance of having a proper routine.

  • Thanks for sharing, hyper pigmentation is a beast but you have done a good job and you are winning! I think you are awesome and brave to be so revealing with your readers this is what honest blogging is all about…I’m still having some skin envy but actually I should redirect that to skin regimen envy, I have yet to get a routine going and I see that there are few steps that I’m missing….Thanks again beautiful!

  • Great post! what is your skin type and how do you keep your skin moisturized after using these treatment? Do you spot treat with the KHESTC or apply it all over your face? I have alot of spots on my face due to a bad breakout. By the way do you still use ecco bella Exfoliant? trying to decide if i should get both products. I’m hoping your next post will be on products you use for acne.

    • @lexie – I generally have oily skin but also go thru dry spells in the winter. Yes, Kiehl’s is applied all over…not just spots. Same with Murad. I no longer use Ecco Bella Blemish product in my current regime…..but I am pretty loyal to their toner…it stays in my toner rotation. As for my acne regime..its the same as this post. In the post I mention Evoclin…thats what i use to manage my acne. Hope this is helpful 🙂

  • Wow. That was a great read. Thank you for sharing. I am about to get the Clarasonic. I already use Cetaphil and was shocked to see that you use Renee Rouleau, I purchased a bottle and never used it. I will try it today. I also have a bottle of Crem De La Mer that I got from a Estee Lauder event. I used it once and I think it was the cause of a major breakout so I still have the bottle but am leary about using it. I will try the Maria Badescu Vitamin C Serum instead and see how it works out. I used to use the Murad Age Spot Gel but it burned my face everytime I put it on and then made my skin peel days later, so I will also try the Kiehls product!

    Thanks again!

    • @Juliette – Thank you for sharing! At the start of my article I make it very clear that ,my number one reason shying away from publicizing my EXACT regime is because “everyone’s skin is different”. Having said that, i advocate focusing on certain skin care “principles”. Definitely do what works for you and keep me posted on your progress 🙂

  • How ironic! I came to your site (recommended by Kelly–we met when you were in Atlanta several years ago) to see what your recs are on mineral makeup and found this article!! I am dealing with the same issues–spots from cystic acne!! Once I turned 30, cystic acne was no joke. 🙁 I recomitted to facials and had the first one in a long time two days ago. I had the Sensi Peel and microderm done and she gave me some hydroquinone. After reading about hydroquinone, I am a little nervous about using it and will probably take it back next week and pick up some of their glycolic cleanser instead. Thanks for the tips and I’ll try some of your recommendations above and try to get this under control. BTW, have you ever tried mineral hygienics makeup? I was using rare minerals, but it didn’t seem to stay all day on my skin.

  • Wow Felicia! Thanks so much for sharing your story!!! As a women of color who’s struggled with hyper-pigmentation and bouts of acne since my teenage years I really appreciate it. There are few people (besides family) who have seen me without my makeup on because I HATE those dark marks on my face. They’re not as severe these days but it’s definitely something I still struggle with, even as someone who’s in the beauty industry. Thanks for being so candid and showing your photos. I don’t know if I’d be so brave.

    I’m definitely going to try a few things that you have listed in your regimen. Most of all I’m going to get really serious about getting rid of these darn dark spots. I don’t want to be envious of other women with clear, beautiful skin. Guess I need to start savings for my Clarisonic since SephoraClaus didn’t gift me one.

    Thanks again and continue bringing us great, unbiased, and truthful blog posts!

  • Ugh I know what you mean about those cystic acne that leave permanent marks on the skin (at least they feel permanent because they’re there for a loooong time). Thanks for this post! it’s really very helpful to know what to do. Although oh my, so much to do!! And let me say this– your skin looks GREAT! 🙂 Plus, you did a fantastic job “masking” those spots too!

    • @MrsT. Thank you. I was “lucky” that the worst spots were on the outskirts of my face and chin, which made them easier to conceal while I healed them. I’m thankful I no longer have to conceal.

  • This was such an AMAZING read!!! Felicia, I commend you 100 times over for being personal and showing those pictures. I’ve had the same struggles with my skin last year. It was really bad, especially under my chin and on my chest. I finally went to the dermatologist and got things cleared right up BUT I do not have a regiment to maintain my new face. So thank you for pushing me to get with the program! 🙂


  • i am so inching towards getting the clarisonic more and more each day….hate i snoozed on the deal in my IFBCon bag by just looking in it today and missed out on a great discount..but i spend plenty of money on mess so devoting some to my skin is a no brainer..

    I have used cetaphil since last year after jacking up my skin by subjecting myself to the i am turning 40 let me use this and that when i really didnt need to drama.

    my derm at the time gave me a Hydroquinone prescription and i used it now and then but not consistently…just didnt feel comfortable to use it on a regular basis.

    so as of january i now go for monthly facials and i am using toner every day and exfoliating and trying to be good and wash my face at night and i definitely seeing improvement

    great post and i appreciate ya for it.

  • Ahh! This post is amazing! So much great information here. I’m bookmarking this for future reference. I’m skincare obsessed and I love to know what people’s routines are… This was so thorough. Love it. And your skin looks gorgeous!

  • absolutely love this post, you are so brave to post these pictures of you. Your skin looks amazing. Thank you for the recommendations! Also, I agree the Clarisonic is amaaaazing!

    • Abitnerdy – Thank you for taking the time to comment. I appreciate your feedback. I was really hopeful that my story would help other women. I’m so inspired to continue to spread my truth and demystify skin care/beauty for women.

  • I truly appreciate this post, just last nite I was in the mirror thinking where did all (drawing a circle around my face) of this come from?!!!

    I am having a problem with blackheads and pimples all of a sudden, I would normally get a few around my menstrual cycle (sorry to get all personal, but we did say we were keeping it real). Now I’m noticing them after my menstrual, well after reading this post I ran (literally)across the street to my nearest CVS and picked up the Cetaphil.

    But I must say I’m gonna start selling candy on the train to get the Clarisonic. (excuse me ladies and gentle-men I am selling candy not for my basketball team but to clear up my face so that I can be Bea-u-ti-ful!!) (they sure do pronunciate each word, don’t they? lol) Thanks again for the post and for keeping it 100%!!

    • Celine – You know I keep it one hunnit…i never front on my readers. I’m glad this post is helpful!
      Cetaphil is extremely gentle and will not harm…its best when coupled with other products that do the work..bc again. cetaphil is uber gentle and basically cleans and thats it

    • Hi Natasha – Hold up, wait a minute….I did not advocated 3-4 skin lightening products at night. You must have misread.
      I use Murad at night and a serum with vit c on top of that.
      The kielhs product is used during the day 🙂
      So thats one lightening product for day (kiehls) and one for eve (murad).
      The one i use for day (kiehls) is especially formulated for daytime use.
      SPF for day is a must, ALWAYS!
      Thank you for dropping the comment. I’m glad I have the opportunity to clear your misunderstanding.

  • I sincerely thank you for having the courage to share this with your readers. Such an in depth article and with no sugar coating has definitely resonated with me. The change in your photos is absolutely inspiring. I was pondering my own hyperpigmentation issues last night and after reading this I am much more hopeful that it can be remedied. But as with so many other things, it starts and ends with the effort I put in.

    Thank you so much, I will definitely be passing this on.

    • Nepenthe – Yes effort is key. I tried to not beat a dead horse but I have to give my readers the straight dope…the way i would want it. I get tired of people promoting BS….”Oh i just get facials once a month” or “I just use this serum at night”. Grrrr! Its not that easy and the public needs to understand that. I hope I’m doing my part to educate and demystify!

  • ThisThatBeauty, Thanks for the article. I’m looking forward to expanding my skincare routine in the near future, with a limited budget and sensitive skin. Cetaphil has proven to be the only cleanser I trust. Moisturizers are very difficult to find, because natural and synthetic ingredients causes breakouts. Having sensitive skin, means the range of products are reduced. It means I have to aggressively work on my health and constantly reduce my stress. Running to rid the stress and clear the pores; drinking tons of water and loose leaf tea to detox the body; eating lots of vegetables and fruits; and–the underestimated–getting lots of sleep. The past few years of maintaining a good health has worked and saved money. However, you’re right about the changing seasons of the face. I’m experiencing breakouts these days, too. It’s time to reassess my daily cleaning routine. Such articles like this is helpful discover.

    • Thank you Sanura – One thing I didnt really stress in the article (that you bring to mind for me)…I try to focus on one skin season at a time. When I was in “acne season” I had to temporarily throw up my hands and not focus on hyperpigmentation. My goal was to stop the break outs…then address whatever state my skin was in as a result. Its too challenging to try and extinguish more than one issue at one. Right now I’m in the “management” phase of my acne…which means no active break outs (knock knock on Clarisonic). But if break outs all of a sudden flared back up…my routine would then switch to an “acne season focus”. So choose your focus and stick with it until its managed:)

      I hope I am helpful!

  • I love you for writing this. I’m been suffering from hyper pigmentation my whole life.

    I went to a dermatologist a couple years ago, and he told me it was a good thing God made me pretty, because I sure got hit with some freckles. WTF 🙂

  • I am SO glad you posted this!!! 🙂
    I found it VERY helpful!!! I too had terrible cystic acne in my early 20s VERY similar to your NSFW pictures!!! 🙂

    I know exactly how that feels. I had to go the Accutane route. But even with Accutane back in 2002 I still get breakouts every now and then so I am constantly being very careful about my regimen.

    I really appreciate all the products you shared with us, I will DEF have to try some of them. I too adore my Clarisonic!!!

    I think your skin looks fantastic…glad the products are working for you. I have some hyperpigmentation right now so I will def have to pick up some of the items you shared.

    Thanks so much!!!

    • Carolina – Thank you for taking the time to share your experiences and reaction to my post. Acne is an emotional thing, huh? I get it! Don’t forget your regular check in’s with your derm. Its funny, Evoclin didnt work for me over a year ago, but all of a sudden, just late last year it suddenly works. Skin is tricky!

  • All I can say is: thank you for sharing this with us readers! So honest, refreshing, and chock-full of information to think about.

    I love and appreciate that you don’t treat the “What’s your routine?” question like a throwaway, and really get honest about what an active process good skincare is, and what vigilance it involves.

    I think so many of us are under the [wrong] impression that all you need to do to maintain healthy skin is slap the products on and keep it moving (and then complain when they don’t work). Remember that skin is actually an organ, too, and you have to be conscious about treating it well, just as you would your heart, lungs, brain, etc.

    Bravo, sis!

    • Thank you Adri. And Thank you! You hit the nail on the with, if i may quote you:”Remember that skin is actually an organ, too, and you have to be conscious about treating it well, just as you would your heart, lungs, brain, etc.”

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