Brown- or dark-coloured spots seen on the skin are also known as pigmentation. It can affect anyone of any skin colour, age or ethnicity. While these spots are mostly harmless, they can influence the way one look and feel about themselves. To many, the search for home remedies to attain clear skin in the comfort of one’s own home is worth exploring. In this article, we cover the various types of home remedies for lightening hyperpigmentation naturally and safely and if there are any other alternatives to that. But first of all, let’s understand more about pigmentation.
What Is Pigmentation?
The skin contains various types of cells. One of the cell types in the skin is melanocytes. Melanocytes are specialized skin cells that are associated with the production of a brown pigment known as melanin. Melanin acts to protect the skin from the harmful effects of ultraviolet rays in the sunlight. It is evenly distributed throughout the skin over the whole body and also imparts an even color to the body. Darker skin types have higher levels of melanin as compared to fairer types. That is why people living in hot climates with intense sun exposure often have dark complexions.
The production of melanin is tightly regulated by the genetic makeup of every individual, which determines his or her skin color. However, exposure to intense sunlight, aging, and other harmful agents in the environment cause disruption in the regulation of melanin production. Sunlight particularly stimulates the production of melanin. So, exposure to excess sunlight causes over-production of melanin which is then often found deposited under the skin in form of dark and patchy areas. This condition is called hyperpigmentation.
Types of hyperpigmentation include the following:
Freckles are usually formed on the areas of the skin that are most exposed to the sun. Freckles may lighten during the winter season due to decreased exposures to sunlight.
Birthmarks, as the name suggests, are a special sort of hyperpigmentation that is present from birth. Birthmarks are usually formed due to clusters of pigmented cells or blood vessels. They usually go away with age, but if not, they exist harmlessly on the skin. 
Photoaging, which is also known as solar lentigines, age spots, or liver spots, results due to prolonged periods of exposure to sunlight, often over the course of years (hence the name age spots). The appearance of age spots usually occurs in the late thirties or early forties.
Melasma is a special type of hyperpigmentation that is associated with hormonal imbalance in the body. Most often, melasma is a manifestation of pregnancy that is associated with many hormonal changes in the bodies of women. The spots are of grayish-brown shade and occur commonly on the forehead, sides of nose, cheeks, or lips.
Hyperpigmentation may also be a result of injury or some other inflammatory process going in the body. Inflammation causes the cells around the area of the injury to produce their specific secretions. In the skin, melanocytes also start secreting melanin, which deposits and forms patchy areas of dark skin.
Causes Of Hyperpigmentation
Hyperpigmentation can occur due to various causes. Some of these are as follows:
Melanin is the natural sunblock agent produced by the body. It helps protect the skin by blocking the harmful rays from the sunlight such as ultraviolet rays. The production of melanin is triggered by prolonged exposures to sunlight. This causes the accumulation of melanin under the skin, causing hyperpigmentation.
Natural Body Aging
As the body ages, the number of melanocytes decreases. As a result, the remaining melanocytes undergo hypertrophy (increase in size). The skin also becomes thinner with age. This causes the formation of hyperpigmented areas on the skin which are known as age spots or liver spots. (2)
Hormonal Changes In The Body
Hormonal change due to pregnancy or consumption of certain medication such as birth control pills may cause development of hyperpigmentation. The skin’s melanin going into overproduction when stimulated by fluctuating levels of estrogen and progesterone hormones.
Skin healing from injury or trauma may leave some form of discoloration after the wound has healed. This is commonly observed among people who suffer from acne concerns or on areas that suffered cuts or scabs.
Rarely, hyperpigmentation may also be caused due to an underlying disease process in the body such as Addison’s disease, autoimmune or gastrointestinal diseases. Certain drugs may also trigger changes in hormone levels which triggers overproduction of melanin.
Natural Remedies To Treat Pigmentation
Various homemade remedies can help treat hyperpigmented areas due to their natural properties. Some of the natural remedies are:
Apple Cider Vinegar
Scientific research  has shown that acetic acid contained in apple cider vinegar may help lighten dark, hyperpigmented areas on the skin. Mixing equal parts of this vinegar and water and applying it to darkened areas yields the best results.
Aloin is a natural compound found in aloe vera extract. It helps in getting rid of hyperpigmented areas of the skin. Applying pure aloe vera gel to hyperpigmented areas before bedtime and washing the area with lukewarm water in the morning lightens up those areas.
Like aloe vera, green tea contains various compounds that act as depigmenting agents. Applying wet green tea bags to hyperpigmented areas on the skin has a pronounced effect on the darkened areas.
Licorice extracts are particularly useful for the lightning of melasma and hyperpigmentation due to excess exposure to sunlight. Due to its healing properties, it is also a part of many topical depigmenting creams.
Why Are Natural Remedies Not So Effective?
Natural remedies can be easily obtained and used at home without consulting a dermatologist. This is because they are virtually free of any harmful side effects. But the natural remedies are not so effective because they need time to work. One can expect 2 to 3 months of continuous use of such remedies before seeing any considerable results. Moreover, stubborn pigmentations often require a more aggressive approach than just using home remedies.
If home remedies do not work effectively, you can always opt for laser skin treatment for pigmentation lightening in Singapore. If laser treatment is not affordable, you can always go for topical creams having pharmaceutical formulas to treat pigmentations.
Topical Remedies For Pigmentation
Retinoids play an important role in decreasing melanin production through UV-induced pathways. They also increase the rate of turnover for skin cells. Topical creams containing retinoids and oral medications can effectively reduce the hyperpigmented areas.
AHA and BHA Exfoliation
AHA stands for alpha-hydroxy acid. It works by peeling out the outermost layer of the skin that consists mainly of dead skin cells, revealing a layer of fresh and healthy cells underneath. Beta-hydroxy acids (BHA) are chemical exfoliators that loosen the dead skin cells and dissolve keratin. Both the exfoliators help lighten pigmentation. 
Hydroquinone is a very effective substance to treat various types of pigmentation i.e., freckles, age spots, or melasma. It works by stopping the process of skin discoloration. Most commonly, this cream is used for pigmentation due to pregnancies or birth control pills.
Vitamin C is a very potent agent that blocks the activity of the enzyme tyrosinase, which effectively decreases the levels of melanin. So, the effect of Vitamin C in lightening the darkened areas of the skin due to pigmentation is more pronounced.
Cyspera cream is made up of cysteamine hydrochloride. It works by decreasing the levels of an amino acid cysteine in the body. Cysteamine is also naturally present in our skin cells and regulates the production of melanin. This cream directly acts on and lightens the areas affected by hyperpigmentation.
Can I Get Quicker Removal Of Hyperpigmentation?
Natural remedies and topical creams need some time for their results to show up. It has been found that natural remedies require at least 1-3 months of continuous usage before yielding any considerable results. This can be a nuisance for those who need quick and effortless eradication of pigmentations on their bodies.
One of the quickest and most effective alternatives to topical creams and natural remedies to remove pigmentations is the use of advanced lasers. Lasers for pigmentation act to directly break down the melanin particles. This yields almost instant results. Dermatologists prefer the use of lasers for the effortless eradication of hyperpigmented areas.
Although natural remedies are free of any side effects and can be easily acquired and used at home, their effects are not as much pronounced as advanced treatments such as medical grade topical creams and lasers. The treatment of choice is left to the one’s discretion. Generally, advanced techniques are preferred if the options are affordable.