Hyperpigmentation and Shaving

Asian man applying shaving cream

Hill Street Studios/Blend Images/Getty Images

Many individuals experience irregularities in skin color. Hyperpigmentation causes areas of skin to appear darker than the surrounding areas. This type of skin condition usually appears in locations that receive frequent exposure to sunlight. The cause of hyperpigmentation varies, often affecting individuals in certain ethnic groups more than others. Shaving facial skin may increase your odds of developing areas of hyperpigmentation, as well as irritating pre-existing conditions. With proper care, you can reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation and reduce your chances of developing this condition.


Hyperpigmentation occurs for a variety of reasons, including hormonal changes and skin damage. Known as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, darkened areas of skin appear when cut, scraped or burned areas of skin heal. Irritation due to shaving may also contribute to the formation of dark areas of skin. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, these darkened areas may take months or years to fade completely.


While anyone can develop hyperpigmentation, Hampton University advises that people with darker skin tones experience this more frequently. Certain ethnic groups, such as Africans, Asians, Native Americans and Hispanics, may experience occasional episodes of hyperpigmentation. Shaving can increase the odds of developing this skin condition.


Although some men may allow facial hair to grow freely, many men shave daily to remove beard, mustache and sideburn hair. While this may provide an effective way to maintain a smooth complexion, shaving can irritate facial skin. According to PubMed Central, traditional shaving can leave an edge on hair shafts that may pierce adjacent skin, causing ingrown hairs and infection, increasing the chances of developing post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.


Preventing skin damage helps to minimize the development of hyperpigmentation caused by inflammation. Proper shaving procedures can produce smoother shaves that reduce skin damage. MayoClinic.com advises applying a shaving cream or gel, using sharp razors and shaving in the direction of hair growth, rather than shaving against the hair growth. Consider other methods of hair removal that reduce frequent skin irritation, such as electrolysis. Avoid picking or scratching at small scrapes and ingrown hairs. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using sunscreen every day to prevent darkening of hyperpigmentation.


Check with your doctor to determine the best methods to treat your hyperpigmented skin. While some over-the-counter fade creams may help fade your dark spots, prescription medications may be more effective and quicker acting. Topical treatment options include hydroquinone creams, topical corticosteroids, tretinoin, and kojic acid.