Hyperpigmentation has been the bane of my existence since puberty and the onset of teenage acne. And so it goes for many of us who are blessed with melanin-rich skin — we get a pimple, it leaves a scar, and we’re left with a spot that takes forever to go away.

You can use over-the-counter treatments, but products containing hydroquinone are now banned from over the counter products in the US, and some of the products that claim to be possessed of “brightening” agents either take forever to work, or don’t work at all. Through the years I’ve had to learn tips and tricks to manage my hyperpigmentation. I have gotten chemical peels in the past and they definitely helped for a while. I have used a number of under and over the counter treatments and ointments, available in the Caribbean and in the US. I have taught myself to leave my skin at peace when I have an eruption, and I use a good moisturizer with high SPF in it to reduce my skin’s exposure to UV rays throughout the year. All this and I’m still not hyperpigmentation free.

So what about laser treatment therapy?

Image via LaserGenesis

Nowadays there are lasers for hair removal, skin resurgacing, acne scarring — you name a condition and there’s a laser than can zap it. When the technology was brand new, lasers were bad news for deeper skin tones — laser hair removal was known for causing blistering and burning in darker skin. Even now, it’s best to proceed with caution if you’ve got dark skin and want to seek laser therapy. For further answers, I asked the experts.

Dr. Amy Taub is the founder of Advanced Dermatology, an assistant clinical professor at Northwestern University Medical School, and is a member of many acclaimed skin care foundations, academies and societies. She offered very helpful information in a recent interview. “My favorite laser treatment for dyspigmentation issues in women of color is called the Genesis procedure (long-pulsed Nd:YAG laser in a defocused mode). It is completely non-invasive and has no downtime – anywhere from 3-5 treatments are needed depending on the severity,” says Dr. Taub.

Harvard-trained cosmetic and laser surgeon and board-certified dermatologist Dr. Carolyn I. Jacob of Chicago Dermatology breaks down the facts about lasers in this very helpful video.

Lasers from LANE Media & Productions on Vimeo.

What about other forms of hyperpigmentation? Proceed with even more caution. Dr. Jacob offered some additional warnings about the use of lasers for darker skin. “Lasers cause heat which can worsen hyperpigmentation such as melasma. However, several work for freckles, including a q switched Nd:YAG laser and a long pulsed KTP laser. If you have melasma there are fractionated ablative lasers or a thulium laser that might help, but you’d need to use topical hydroquinone as well,” Dr. Jacob suggested, when reached via e mail.

So, OK. What if you decide to proceed with getting laser treatments for your hyperpigmentation using the aforementioned Nd:YAG laser, and getting this treatment from a licensed and professional dermatologist? Even afterwards you need to maintain the effects by taking sun protection more seriously.

“It is critical when treating skin for pigmentation issues not only during the treatment but also before to use at least a SPF 30 sunscreen which contains at least 5% zinc oxide and preferably more (she recommends Intellishade by Revision). It does tend to be whitish so that you could use some with some tint to hide the white or to simply apply makeup or mix the right colored powder with the sunscreen. The laser simply cannot repair the skin if the UV light continues to urge the skin to make more pigment. UV light comes through window glass and is present ALL YEAR ROUND. Also, it would be good to be using a lightener or a brightener and an exfoliating agent, usually a retinol or tretinoin, although only using one to keep below the level where the skin could be irritated which can worsen pigmentation,” says Dr. Taub.

Now that I feel more informed, I think I want to try laser skin therapy using the Nd:YAG laser on my back, to see if I can rock a backless dress without fear next summer. I’ll keep you posted on how it works if I eventually do try it!

Have you ever used lasers for skin issues or hair removal? How did it work for you? Please share your experience!

Filed Under:


Lily S. says:
November 8, 2011, 10:44 pm
I've managed to reach age 52 without trying any lasers. I've been using "Fair & White" skin products (creams & soaps) for about 10yrs and all my scars have disappeared. The side effect is that the skin lightens one to two degrees lighter, more noticable in the winter months though. All in all, I wouldn't waste my money on lasers.
haneen says:
November 9, 2011, 12:34 am
I have embarassing facial hair that I wax 2/month. I'd love to get laser hair removal but have heard horror stories about WOC receiving the terrible dark scarring mentioned here. What kind of laser is best for WOC hair removal?
Lucretia says:
November 9, 2011, 6:57 am
Cutera makes a laser for woc, but the problem lies in the hands of the operator. Some people let unskilled nurses and Estheticians operate after only 2 days or less training. I have seen damage that never will be repaired. Some Lasers work on the amount of melanin in skin, WOC be advised not many " professionals" have training on ethnic skin. Peels, lasers and such treatments can harm you and leave you with a worse problem if in the wrong hands Ask questions about training! How many WOC have you done, let me see pictures(and not factory stock ones theirs). Hyperpigment usually is derived for hormone issues, seek a specialist and work on that. SPF always , hair removal creams can cause, and picking acne areas. Goodluck
feliciayvette says:
November 9, 2011, 7:38 am
I'm excited to hear the results if you decide to try it. I was diagnosed with dermatitis a few years ago and have lots of scars from it on my forearms. The only thing that seems to work for me DOES have hydroquinone in it - prescribed by my dermatologist. She mixes it with two other things (not sure what they are). The scars fade pretty quickly - I just have to be sure not to overdo it, as last time I did and ended up with a huge spot on my arm that lacked pigmentation completely. It came back, though... thank God.
Lola Zabeth says:
November 9, 2011, 8:46 am
I've never used lasers for hair removal, but did use it for tattoo removal. I was concerned about hyperpigmentation but was assured by the dermatologist that a YAG laser was the way to go for darker skin tones. I have had 4 laser sessions, and so far so good, no hyperpimentation. Very pleased with the results.
Kimmie0810 says:
November 9, 2011, 9:57 am
I've been getting laser hair removal for several years. That's not the norm, but I have a polycystic ovaries so the hair will grow probably forever. I just don't get treatments as often as I used to. But I love it! It has saved my life! The hair that does grow now is much finer & is hardly visible. I might consider electrolysis which is supposed to be permanent. I'm now getting my underarms lasered and after 1 treatment I've only shaved there once in 2mos--and really didn't need to. I wish I hadn't bought a package lol but it was a Groupon deal. I soooOo want to get laser for hyperpigmentation! It's the worst! I rarely break out anymore but when I do it leaves marks! A hormonal issue in July caused a bad breakout, even on my upper arm, & I'm desperately trying to fade that out. I get another Vitalize peel Thursday & hope it's my last or next to last. I might get the stronger Vi peel if the results aren't what I want. I'm going to find someone with the laser for darker skin! Even if I have to travel! I used to take the Amtrak from VA to NYC for laser hair removal years ago. I'd do it again!
PCG says:
November 11, 2011, 7:58 pm
I had laser hair removal with fair results, but most of all the cost was prohibitive and the only dermatologist I trusted with the proceedure was 40 miles from me. I have been doing electrolysis for nearly three years now. It's permanent and the results have been great. I still have the old scarring, however, and now that the end of my treatment is in sight, I am looking for a way to remove the scars.
victoria says:
June 10, 2014, 10:33 pm
hii, i am 16 years old and i have alot of marks on my skin. in your review you said that your dermatologist gave you a product mixed with other things and it worked quickly. can u please give me the name of the products... i feel soo insecure
Claire says:
July 4, 2014, 12:52 am
Great goods from you, man. I've understand your stuff previous to and you are just extremely wonderful. I actually like what you've acquired here, certainly like what you are stating and the way in which you say it. You make it enjoyable and you still care for to keep it wise. I cant wait to read far more from you. This is actually a tremendous website.
anti wrinkle cream for men says:
July 8, 2014, 11:13 pm
Hi there, everything is going sound here and ofcourse every one is sharing information, that's genuinely excellent, keep up writing. says:
July 18, 2014, 2:24 am
Excellent article. Keep posting such kind of information on your blog. Im really impressed by your site. Hello there, You have done a fantastic job. I will definitely digg it and personally recommend to my friends. I am confident they will be benefited from this web site. says:
September 20, 2014, 11:12 am
Very soon this web page will be famous amid all blog viewers, due to it's good posts
line let’s get rich hack tool says:
September 26, 2014, 7:57 pm
Wow, awesome weblog format! How lengthy have you ever been blogging for? you make running a blog look easy. The whole look of your site is great, let alone the content material!
Renaldo says:
November 10, 2014, 5:49 am
If you want it then you are in proper place mainly because only right here you can download the software with out paying out anything!
kem tri nam says:
January 7, 2015, 2:18 am
Treat your skin with laser cost you a lot of money, so make sure that you have concern the doctor to know if this kind of treatment works for you. I have spent a lot of money but still have wait for the result.
Ranveer singh says:
March 28, 2015, 4:12 am
I am suffering from hyperpigmentation in last two year
stenen keukenwerkblad says:
April 4, 2015, 3:52 am
Great! Thanks for your documents, its been very helpful. Thanks again for sharing your information.
Dr. Edward Fruitman says:
August 19, 2015, 1:10 am
Getting any kind of laser treatment requires you to be very selective about where you get the treatment from. In order to get the best results, you will need to find the best med spa in your area. Only the best people in this business can ensure the quality of work.
Sukhjinder says:
May 5, 2016, 1:43 am
I have many dark spots,blemishes nd pigmentation on my skin
robbi768 says:
May 9, 2016, 5:44 pm
DO NOT USE LASER for lyperpigmentation!! Its too strong and will make it worse!! These treatments are very expensive. Since we have sensitive skin anyway, what works is using products with glycolic acid as that is gentler and will take away the hyperpigmentation over time without BURNING it off (which wil leave scars). I use two creams for my hyperpigmentation and I have seen results in one month of daily use. (1) the Made from Earth Pure Aloe Vera - I use this on my body, and (2) the Lady Soma Renewal Serum - I use this on my face. Aloe is a safe, gentle and effective method of treating hyperpigmentation, while the Lady Soma Renewal Serum has gentle gycolic and hyaluronic acid that takes the pigment away without the laser burning.