Developing a Skincare Routine for Pigmentation

by Dr Wan Chee Kwang
May 13, 2023

Many people strive for a clear and even complexion, but pigmentation can sometimes get in the way. Because Asian skin has more pigment and more active pigment-producing cells, it is more prone to pigmentation. Whether it's dark patches, freckles, or melasma, pigmentation can be a frustrating and tough issue to deal with. 

By developing a good skincare routine, you can manage the appearance of pigmentation. It should be noted, though, that a skincare routine cannot replace the diagnosis from a professional. Nor can it produce the best results in lightening your dark spots and patches. 

You can think of a skincare routine as an intermediary step or as a complement to treatment to ensure your results are long-lasting. To help you refine your routine, we'll share skincare tips in this article. 

Step 1: Cleanse

A good skincare routine begins with cleansing. Cleansed skin provides a clean base for the absorption of ingredients from your skincare products.

To prevent pigmentation, you should choose a gentle cleanser that will not disrupt your skin barrier. It will also be helpful if your cleanser contains ingredients such as niacinamide or kojic acid, both of which are known to brighten skin and prevent pigmentation.

Niacinamide helps to inhibit the transfer of melanin from the melanocytes (cells that produce melanin) to the skin cells, which can help to reduce the appearance of pigmentation. Kojic acid, on the other hand, inhibits tyrosinase which directly prevents the production of pigment.

Step 2: Exfoliate

Exfoliating regularly can remove the build-up of dead skin cells that trap melanin. It also helps to stimulate cell turnover, which can lead to brighter and more even-looking skin.

Use a gentle exfoliating product two to three times a week. Avoid abrasive scrubs that can damage your skin. Instead, use exfoliating acids such as glycolic acid and lactic acid to gently remove dead skin cells.

Step 3: Use a serum

Serums contain high concentrations of active ingredients that can penetrate deeply into your skin and provide lightening benefits. To prevent and reduce the appearance of pigmentation, choose a serum containing brightening ingredients such as niacinamide and vitamin C.

Vitamin C inhibits melanin production by suppressing the activity of tyrosinase, which is an enzyme that's involved in melanin production. Niacinamide, as mentioned earlier, prevents the transfer of melanin which can help to reduce the appearance of pigmentation.

Step 4: Use a retinoid

Retinoid promotes cell renewal that can help lighten existing pigmentation. It suppresses melanin production and reduces the amount of sun-induced damage on your skin. 

However, retinoid can cause dryness and irritation. It is best to see a doctor to find out which retinoid is ideal for your skin type. They can recommend a retinoid product that is suitable for your skin and pigmentation concerns, as well as guide you on how to use it safely and efficiently.

Step 5: Moisturise

Moisturising regularly can help maintain the moisture levels of your skin and prevent dryness, which is a major cause of pigmentation. 

Look for moisturisers that contain lightening ingredients such as vitamin C, niacinamide and arbutin, which can help reduce pigmentation. Arbutin is a compound of hydroquinone which inhibits melanin activity in the skin, reducing pigmentation that can occur due to sun exposure.

Step 6: Apply sunscreen

If your moisturiser doesn’t already have a Sun Protection Factor (SPF), then you must apply sunscreen as the last step.

Sunscreen shields the skin from damaging UV rays, which can cause melanin synthesis. Regular application can lower your chances of developing pigmentation and other sun-related skin disorders.

To ensure optimal protection from the sun's damaging rays, use a sunscreen with broad-spectrum protection with at least SPF 30.

Professional pigmentation removal

Even with a good skincare routine in place, you may still develop pigmentation. If you already have pigmentation, it may take some time before you can see significant lightening of your skin. 

Our clients with moderate to severe pigmentation often seek professional pigmentation removal because they have not experienced their desired results from skincare and other methods.

At 1Aesthetics we recommend laser treatment for the removal of pigmentation. Laser treatment uses a high-intensity light beam to penetrate your skin and target the melanin pigments beneath it. This process breaks down pigment and dramatically improves the appearance of pigmentation.

Other treatments that may be used in conjunction with laser treatment to get the best results are chemical peels, and topical and oral medications .

When should you seek professional pigmentation removal?

While some people, especially those with mild pigmentation, may be able to improve their condition with over-the-counter products or home remedies, others will usually require expert treatment. 

You should consult a qualified doctor and seek professional pigmentation removal if:

  • You want your pigmentation to lighten quickly and visibly.
  • You have not seen any obvious difference after using skincare products and other approaches
  • Your pigmentation is harming your self-esteem
  • You want to know what is causing your pigmentation

Some pigmentation may be because of an underlying medical problem, such as hemochromatosis, or the use of certain drugs. If you have other symptoms or are unsure about the cause of your pigmentation, it is advisable to consult a specialist for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. 

Seeking professional pigmentation removal treatment can not only improve the appearance of your skin, but also boost your confidence and overall well-being.

Pigmentation removal at 1Aesthetics

1Aesthetics is a Singapore-based provider of aesthetic treatments. We have helped clients with various conditions and we prioritise providing solutions that are catered to each individual. 

If you’re suffering from pigmentation issues and need a diagnosis that considers your medical history together with your aesthetic goals, contact us today.


  1. Irene Dini, Academic Editor. (2021). Arbutin as a Skin Depigmenting Agent with Antimelanogenic and Antioxidant Properties. PubMed Central
  1. T Hakozaki. (2002). The effect of niacinamide on reducing cutaneous pigmentation and suppression of melanosome transfer. PubMed
  1. Romaine D Dormael, PharmD. (2019)Vitamin C Prevents Ultraviolet-induced Pigmentation in Healthy Volunteers: Bayesian Meta-analysis Results from 31 Randomized Controlled versus Vehicle Clinical Studies. PubMed Central
  1. Ahmad Firdaus B. Lajis, (2012) Depigmenting Effect of Kojic Acid Esters in Hyperpigmented B16F1 Melanoma Cells. PubMed Central.

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