Dark spots can appear for a number of reasons. They are sometimes known as age spots, but can occur at any time. Dark spots are the visible effect of an overproduction of melanin in the skin. If you have darker skin, you can be more prone to hyperpigmentation and you will need to take this into consideration when taking care of your skin.
Spots can appear as a result of hormone issues, improperly scratching or squeezing pimples or blackheads (known as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation), or as a result of taking various medications. They can also appear as a result of sun exposure or as a result of an allergic reaction to harsh skin products.
If you notice a dark spot on your skin, you need to implement a fading and brightening regime as soon as possible to get the best results.
Best products for dark spots
You can find a whole host of products specifically designed to fade dark spots on the skin. You need to take into consideration your skin type and sensitivity level when choosing a brightening product, to make sure your fading creams don’t irritate your skin. When buying an over the counter skin cream, look for the following ingredients to boost your skin lightening regime.
Retinol and Retin A (Tretinoin)
Retinol is a natural form of vitamin A. Retin A sounds similar, but is actually a synthetic based form of vitamin A, and is much stronger than retinol. Retin A is the brand name of Tretinoin, a pharmaceutical formulation of vitamin A. Both products can help with your fight against dark spots.
You can find Retin A in prescription strength creams or use retinol in specially formulated over-the-counter skin products. Both retinol or Retin A can be effective anti-aging tools that stimulate collagen production in the skin, but they can also be effective in fading dark spots as well.
Prescription strength Retin A can be prescribed by your dermatologist and picked up at the pharmacy counter. Retin A has a powerful exfoliating action, as well as providing nutrients to the underlying skin to combat signs of aging.
Note: When using strong vitamin A products, make sure you wear sunscreen every day without exception. Retin A can cause sensitivity to the sun and could make you prone to further hyperpigmentation.
Vitamin C is known for its brightening and antioxidant properties, and can be a powerful weapon against dark spots and age spots. Vitamin C can combat signs of sun damage due to its powerful antioxidant content, and can also promote the production of collagen in the skin. Vitamin C products can also reduce the overproduction of melanin in the skin to prevent and treat dark spots and even out skin tone.
Papaya enzymes are a gentle exfoliant derived from the papaya fruit and can assist in the treatment of dark spots. There are many skin creams containing papaya enzymes that can leave your skin soft, supple and glowing.
Alpha Hydroxy Acid
Alpha hydroxy acid comes from either milk-based sources and fruit sources. Skin creams containing alpha hydroxy acid are used for their anti-aging properties and its anti hyperpigmentation properties. Alpha hydroxy acid creams can control and reduce the appearance of dark spots in your skin and stimulate the production of collagen.
Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring acid that exists within your skin. Applying hyaluronic acid contains moisture-boosting properties and can exfoliate the top layer of skin, removing dark marks and saturating the skin with anti-aging and firming properties.
Glycolic acid is derived from sugarcane and has anti-aging and dark spot reducing properties.
Lactic acid is derived from milk and is a great anti-aging and skin brightener. Lactic acid has the added benefit of not increasing your sensitivity to the sun.
Note: with all acids and brightening creams, it is always a good idea to wear sunscreen when you’re outside.
For super-strength dark spot removal, your dermatologist can prescribe a TCA peel for a deeper chemical peel. Be super careful with peels of this strength and get it done professionally or follow the instructions to the letter. These peels are wonderfully effective, however you must make sure you don’t use too much or leave them on for too long or you risk a chemical burn.
The use of hydroquinone in treating dark spots and age spot is controversial. In some cases, it is an effective treatment for lightening dark spots. In other cases, it has caused a gradual darkening of the skin. It’s best to do your research and speak to your dermatologist when it comes to hydroquinone, as your skin type and level of sensitivity can affect the outcome of your treatment.
Lasers can be effective in some cases but can often lead to further hyperpigmentation and cause more spots than they cure. If you have skin that tans easily, it’s best not to use lasers, as the intense pulsed light can trigger a new batch of hyperpigmentation. It’s best to do your own research and listen to other people’s experiences before considering any form of laser treatment.
Home made remedies
The following ingredients can be found in many skin creams. For those of you who wish to try the D.I.Y. route with dark spot removal, the following home made remedies can be effective in fighting dark spots.
A honey mask is one of the easiest masks you can use. Just make sure to tie your hair back or you’ll end up in a sticky mess! Simply apply honey to the face, leave for 15-30 minutes and rinse off with warm water. Raw and manuka honey can work well, however any honey should be fine. Mix honey with raw mashed papaya for a skin brightening mask.
Raw grated or powdered turmeric is a powerful skin lightening ingredient. Apply to the face mixed with honey or yogurt, leave for 15-30 minutes and rinse off, revealing brighter, more even-toned skin.
Yogurt contains lactic acid and can be applied directly to the face for a skin brightening mask. Sour cream works just as well, and can give your skin a hydration boost with the added skin lightening effect of a very mild lactic acid peel.
A simple, old-world remedy with a wide range of uses, the humble castor oil can fade hyperpigmentation effectively, and is a cost-effective option. Simply dab a little on the spot and let the castor oil do its thing. Castor oil has the added benefit of being an anti-aging remedy and a treatment for scar removal. Castor oil takes some time to work, but with regular application over an extended period of time, the results can be impressive.
Note: castor oil is messy if it gets on clothing, and is difficult to remove. Put a towel over your pillow if you plan to leave it on overnight.
This may sound a little crazy, but the juice of a potato applied to your skin has a mild whitening effect, while acting as an exfoliator. Simply grate or cube potato and rub the juice on the skin. Leave for 15-30 minutes and rinse off.
Note: If some of these options seem a bit messy, you could opt for a skin cream that incorporates a number of the ingredients listed above.
If you want to guard against dark spots appearing or reappearing, it’s a good idea to take preventative measures to make sure your skin remains clear and even-toned.
Always be sure to apply a UVA/UVB broad spectrum sunscreen to your face if you are going out in the sun for any length of time. The sunscreen will protect your skin from sun damage and inflammatory responses that can be the root cause of dark spots and hyperpigmentation. For added dark spot fighting ingredients, opt for a sunscreen formulation that also contains licorice extract, a melanin-inhibiting ingredient.
Ask your dermatologist
Speak to your dermatologist about the best way to guard against hyperpigmentation. They will be able to recommend a treatment program for any existing dark spots and will help you to prevent new ones from occurring.
Avoid harsh products
If your skin feels uncomfortable or you develop a rash or irritation from a skin product – stop using it! Only use gentle products and soothing ingredients to protect your skin from flare-ups and dark spots.
Don’t pick at your skin!
Whatever you do, don’t squeeze pimples or blackheads, as they can leave a nasty mark that can turn into post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Other complications can include squeezing the pimple ‘in’ instead of ‘out’, which can lead to further infection. Use a medicated cream instead to take care of pimples quickly and effectively. And whatever you do, resist the urge to pick, squeeze or scratch!
Dark spots and age spots are not the end of the world. You can effectively treat and remove dark spots, while protecting your skin and preventing new ones from appearing. Make sure you wear sunscreen every day and incorporate some of these creams and ingredients into your skin brightening routine to ensure clear, even-toned skin for today and far into the future.
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