One of the most common skin issues that many of us experience is hyperpigmentation — dark spots or patches on the skin. Many things can cause hyperpigmentation, such as sun damage or inflammation. The dark color results from an overproduction of melanin, a natural pigment in our hair, skin, and eyes.
Although it can be alarming to notice changes in your skin, the good news is that these dark spots are usually benign. However, you may want to treat them for cosmetic purposes. Essential oils are a popular natural remedy for skin imbalances, and there are several different oils that may help alleviate hyperpigmentation.
We have researched and discovered some of the best essential oils for hyperpigmentation — and we’ve found one that we think takes the cake for the best overall treatment, and that is Carrot Seed. Read on to see why it is the best for hyperpigmentation.
Best Essential Oils for Hyperpigmentation: Our Top 5 Picks
Looking to treat your hyperpigmentation naturally? Here’s our list of the most effective essential oils for lightening dark patches on your skin.
1. Best Overall Oil: Carrot Seed
- Helps prevent excess melanin production
- Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties
- Protects against UV and sun damage
Decreasing melanin production is one of the most effective ways to eliminate unwanted dark patches on the skin. Where many other essential oils simply treat redness and inflammation in the skin, carrot seed oil contains beta-carotene, which protects cells from damage and removes excess pigment by blocking a melanin-producing enzyme called tyrosinase.
No matter what’s causing your skin to produce extra melanin, carrot seed oil can help stop the problem at its source and lighten hyperpigmentation. Beta-carotene also acts as an antioxidant, which shields your skin cells from damage.
On top of all that, carrot seed oil contains other compounds such as umbelliferone that offer UV protection for the skin. With its pigment-reducing, skin-nourishing, and protective properties, carrot seed oil is our number one choice for treating hyperpigmentation.
2. Best Acne Clearing Oil: Tea Tree
- Keeps skin clear and free of blemishes
- May prevent scars from forming by reducing the severity of breakouts
- Kills bacteria and microbes
- Regenerative for outer skin layer
Tea tree oil is a time-honored remedy for wounds and skin conditions. It’s an astringent, antioxidant, and antimicrobial oil that is great for clearing up acne breakouts as well as reducing inflammation. Some people even use the oil as a natural hand sanitizer.
Tea tree oil has a mild resurfacing effect on the outer layer of the skin. However, studies have been inconclusive as to whether it can help remove acne scars, which form beneath the skin’s surface. At the very least, this oil could reduce the likelihood of scars forming in the first place.
Unlike carrot seed oil, tea tree won’t block your skin from producing melanin. It may not be effective against sun spots or melasma. However, if you’re prone to acne, tea tree oil can help prevent or lessen the severity of breakouts.
3. Best Anti-Inflammatory Oil: Lavender
- Soothes redness from inflammation
- Helps heal injuries and damage to the skin
- Astringent properties
- Can treat or prevent acne breakouts
Aside from its divine aroma, lavender has powerful anti-inflammatory properties. The oil soothes irritation and redness and helps the skin repair itself after damage. It’s also one of the few essential oils that you can safely use neat, or undiluted, on your skin.
Similar to tea tree oil, lavender can be effective at clearing zits and blackheads. It can also help prevent acne from turning into unsightly scars and spots.
4. Best Regenerating Oil: Helichrysum
- Helps skin heal from wounds and repair itself quickly
- May increase collagen production
- Antimicrobial effects
- May cause sun sensitivity
Helichrysum’s antioxidant constituents help skin cells regenerate quickly and heal from damage. The oil may also help boost collagen production, which keeps skin looking youthful and supple. Its antibacterial and antifungal properties can alleviate infections and rashes, as well.
A word of caution: helichrysum oil can cause heightened sun sensitivity. Avoid exposing your skin to direct sunlight for several hours after applying.
5. Best Skin Lightening Oil: Lemon
- Bleaches dark spots and patches to make them lighter
- Contains Vitamin C
- Increases photosensitivity
Lemon oil contains limonene, which bleaches the skin and helps directly with lightening dark spots. It’s also high in Vitamin C, a natural antioxidant that can combat hyperpigmentation.
Much like helichrysum, citrus essential oils may increase your skin’s susceptibility to UV damage. It’s best to avoid direct sun exposure for a few hours after applying lemon oil.
Essential Oils for Hyperpigmentation: Buyer’s Guide
Causes of Hyperpigmentation
Hyperpigmentation can come in several different forms. The most common types include:
- Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation
Each of these subtypes has different causes, which we’ll look at in more detail.
As their name suggests, sunspots — also known as liver spots — develop from overexposure to the sun. These spots become increasingly common as we age, and they usually appear on our hands, faces, and other body parts that get a lot of sunlight.
Damage from injury or inflammation can create discoloration on the skin. An acne breakout can leave darkened spots that linger even after the blemishes have cleared up.
Hormonal changes trigger this type of hyperpigmentation, which most often affects the stomach and face. Although it’s common to see a darkening of the skin during pregnancy or while taking birth control pills, melasma often fades when the hormonal causes no longer exist.
Certain medications, as well as chemotherapy treatments, may cause hyperpigmentation. Addison’s disease can also create dark patches, especially in areas that get extra sun exposure.
Wearing sunscreen, keeping our skin covered with hats and long-sleeved clothing, and staying out of the sun can all reduce the risk of hyperpigmentation. Practicing sun safety can also help decrease our risk of skin cancer.
When acne strikes, avoid the temptation to pick or pop pimples, which can lead to scarring and discoloration. And although hormonal changes can be normal, even if melasma occurs, it will usually go away on its own.
Treating Hyperpigmentation with Essential Oils
Like any treatment, essential oils have their strengths and drawbacks. Because essential oils can be so potent, we’ll also discuss some ways to use them to maximize their safety and efficacy.
Advantages of Using Essential Oils
Essential oils are natural remedies that may help relieve a wide variety of ailments. They contain medicinal compounds and can be just as useful as drugs for some purposes.
Many people who prefer natural methods of healing swear by using essential oils. The oils could be a less invasive, more gentle way to address imbalances in the body since they come from plants. Pure oils should only contain plant constituents with no chemical additives.
Disadvantages of Using Essential Oils
Although the oils come from a natural source, they are not always safe to use in large quantities. Essential oils are super-concentrated plant extracts packed with much higher doses of medicinal compounds than you’d find in whole plants, so a little bit goes a long way.
These powerful oils can be dangerous if misused. They can also be expensive, and they have a limited shelf-life before they begin to lose their potency.
How to Apply Essential Oils to Skin
When applying essential oils to your skin, you should almost always dilute them first. Although there are a few oils (such as lavender) that you can use straight, it’s always a good idea to use a one to five percent dilution in a neutral carrier oil such as grapeseed, sunflower, or apricot kernel.
Using undiluted essential oils on the skin can cause chemical burns and toxic effects. A carrier oil can also help your skin absorb the plant constituents so that you get the maximum medicinal benefit from them.
Essential oils are a popular natural treatment for hyperpigmentation of the skin. Depending on what’s causing the discoloration, there are a variety of options to choose from to suit your skin’s needs.
When used safely, these oils can effectively lighten dark patches, revitalize your skin, and protect you from further sun damage.