Are Hyperpigmentation and Uneven Skin Tone the Same Thing?

Hyperpigmentation may be described as an uneven skin tone, but an uneven skin tone is not always caused by hyperpigmentation. Confused? We don't blame you. This is how you tell the difference.

A bright, even skin tone is easily taken for granted. You almost didn't know you had it until it's no longer there.

When your skin tone has become hyperpigmented or uneven, your first thought might be, 'What the heck happened?' quickly followed by, 'What the heck can I do to resolve it?' You asked, so we're answering.


Are hyperpigmentation and uneven skin tone the same thing?

Is hyperpigmentation the same thing as an uneven skin tone?

'Uneven' is an umbrella term for skin that's blotchy, mottled, or inconsistently coloured. While hyperpigmentation causes unevenness, other factors can make your skin tone uneven too.

Hyperpigmentation is usually a consequence of:

Other causes of uneven skin tone include:

  • Irregular cellular turnover, e.g. an uneven rate of exfoliation
  • Hypopigmentation

How do I know what's causing my own uneven skin tone?

Nine times out of 10, an uneven skin tone is the consequence of hyperpigmentation. The most common forms of this are:

Have you developed small- to medium-sized areas of hyperpigmentation in areas usually exposed to sunlight? Were you once an avid sunbather? If you answer 'yes' to one or both of these questions, you likely have age spots, also known as sun spots or liver spots.

Is it summertime? Is your uneven skin tone seasonal? Do you develop tiny spots of darkened skin? If this sounds familiar, you likely have freckles.

Do you suffer from acne? Have you damaged your skin recently? Has the pigmentation occurred where a scar or lesion formed? If you answered yes to any of these questions, it's likely you have post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

Are you pregnant? Have you recently switched to a new form of birth control? Did the pigmentation change occur alongside these hormone-affecting events? If so, you've likely developed melasma.


Are hyperpigmentation and uneven skin tone the same thing?


What if I don't have hyperpigmentation?

If you didn't meet any of the criteria above, then your skin is likely affected by irregular cellular turnover orhypopigmentation. What exactly are these conditions? Glad you asked.

'Cellular turnover' is the technical term used to describe your skin's natural need to shed and renew. Just as a cat or dog is continually losing and growing fur, we too lose and grow skin. On average, each of your skin cells has a 30-day life span.

Sometimes, certain areas of skin can exfoliate markedly faster or slower than the skin cells surrounding them. A patchy tan is a familiar example of this. You can also see that the skin on the elbows, knees, and heels exfoliates slowly and becomes rougher than other skin on your body.

In contract, hypopigmentation is caused by the absence of pigment in certain areas of skin. Hypopigmentation can be caused by an infection, such as tinea versicolour, or another medical condition.

What should I use to treat each condition?

Now you've identified the cause of your uneven skin tone, let's get to the solutions. You can effectively treat hyperpigmentation and uneven skin tone at home. All relevant treatments are available in our pigmentation correction store, but we've selected some all-stars to get you started.


Pigmentation condition     Recommended treatment     Recommended products     
Slow cellular turnover Physical or chemical exfoliants
Hypopigmentation Consult with your GP. As per your GP's advice


These treatments will show noticeable results within a month of use and some improvement within just 1 to 2 weeks. Let us know about your experiences. We love receiving your mail and news either by email on or by telephone on 03 9486 7179.


Are hyperpigmentation and uneven skin tone the same thing?