How to Remove Dark Spots on Your Face: 3 Reasons and Treatments in 2021
Dark spots on the face are one of the most popular skincare concerns. Not only they can add years to your appearance but they can be hard to cover even with the most concentrated concealer. In this article, we are going to discuss the three most common reasons dark spots start appearing and present several proven ways to eliminate this cosmetic nuisance. This topic is becoming even more important as we head towards the summer season.
Most often, dark spots appear because of intensive UV exposure, hormone estrogen fluctuations, and genetics. Less frequently, uneven pigmentation may be caused by allergies, bruising, and scarring.
No need to suffer from dark spots. Efficient cosmetic product ingredients help diminish and even completely remove dark spots, including:
- Retinol and retinoic acid
- Vitamin C
- AHA and BHA skin peels
- Homemade DIY treatments
To be absolutely clear from the beginning: dark spots may look unattractive but they are not harmful or dangerous. It’s unlikely that they mutate into something serious. But they can progress and ruin the look of your complexion.
To start, let’s examine 3 main reasons why dark spots happen. Once this is clear, you will understand how can you prevent them from forming. Ways to treat skin discolorations depend on the reasons why dark spots appear in the first place.
Darker areas on the skin are most often triggered by spikes in melanin production triggered by unprotected UV exposure. Dark skin pigment melanin defines the color of our complexion. Sun rays activate the melanin production that can "pool" in different areas of the face. The number of melanin cells is the same regardless of the skin color, but people with darker skin have significantly larger melanin cells.
Dark areas on the aging skin often dubbed as “liver spots”, are also caused by excessive sun exposure or using sun beds. As the skin ages, melanin becomes unevenly distributed. Dermatologists recommend watching these spots carefully and monitor changes that may signal the development of skin cancer.
One of the common reasons why dark spots develop in the T-zone is when facial pores are blocked by various substances. Oilier face areas such as the nose and forehead area, get clogged faster. But acne-related dark patches may even appear on the cheeks. The mechanism of spots proliferation is simple. When a pore becomes clogged and inflamed, the body attempts to repair the damage by directing inflammation-reducing chemicals to the spot. This causes redness which eventually turns into a darker skin area.
Dark Spots Caused by Hormones
Women often develop dark brown spots even on dry skin when facing rapid changes in hormonal levels, such as pregnancy or taking birth control pills. Some of the most common areas for spots include the upper lip, cheeks, and forehead. Medically known as melasma, this condition affects many pregnant women. Hormonal dark spots will disappear after childbirth, along with pregnancy acne and hair loss which are also common.
How to Prevent Dark Spots
Since the sun is the major cause of dark spots, the most reliable way to reduce the chances of having spots is to diligently shield the skin from UV exposure. Wearing a natural sunblock with an SPF rating of 30 and more is an excellent step forward.
Regular exfoliation helps maintain a smooth and glowing skin complexion. After exfoliating, apply a good layer of a moisturizer that helps soothe and heal the skin. A calm, well-moisturized skin is less prone to inflammation and the resulting uneven skin pigmentation. Treat your skin to a hydrating mask every week and consider switching to gentle, oil-based cleansing products that are less likely to irritate your skin.
The first choice of treatment for many people is lightening cream or serum. There are lots of lightning products on the market promising to lighten, brighten, or reduce pigmentation. Yet some products can be dangerous. It’s important to know which ingredients that deliver the promise and which ones can damage your health.
Toxic Ingredient to Avoid: Hydroquinone
This skin lightening chemical is considered toxic in many countries. For example, it’s banned from cosmetic products in Canada. Studies show that hydroquinone can cause skin cancer but the exact concentration that makes it carcinogenic is still unknown. To err on side of caution, it’s best to avoid any cosmetic product containing hydroquinone.
Helpful Ingredients for Dark Spots
Among skin spot lightening ingredients, vitamin A is a relatively safe alternative to toxic hydroquinone. It’s one of the best ingredients for dark spots of any origin. In addition to that, retinoids make the skin thicker, improve its elasticity, and combat wrinkles. Dermatologists recommend applying vitamin A serums directly on dark spots every other day to avoid irritation. One of the cheaper and effective ways to apply vitamin A is to derive it from gel capsules for internal consumption, where it comes pre-blended with vegetable oil that makes it safer for direct application on the skin. When applied to the skin, retinol changes into the retinoid acid which gets absorbed and works by slowing down melanin production in the deeper skin layers. On average, it takes between three and six months of daily use to notice improvement in skin darkening and uneven pigmentation.
Vitamin A can be toxic when consumed internally in large quantities. But when used in skincare products, retinoids pose significantly less danger to your health.
Vitamin A works double-duty when paired with another stellar ingredient for dark spots, vitamin C, or ascorbic acid. Vitamin C combats dark spots in two ways. First, it lightens the skin thanks to its exfoliating action as a mild acid. Second, it quenches the low-grade inflammation in the skin due to its antioxidant action. The efficiency of vitamin C in topical applications is scientifically proven, that’s why so many dermatologists recommend it for dark spots on the skin.
Skin peeling acids
Glycolic acid is a reliably effective skin lightener that also helps to remove stubborn spots appearing after acne blemishes. There are many solutions containing glycolic acid, from DIY peeling pads and masks to salon-strength serums and peels. Glycolic acid works to fade spots on the skin of any tone. Just remember to use it sparingly during wintertime or when sun exposure is minimal, such as during lockdowns. When using peels in warmer and sunnier weather, double-up your sun protection since freshly exfoliated skin can be more prone to forming dark spots.
Natural Remedies for Dark Spots on Face
If you want to try something less chemical and equally efficient, then natural ingredients are what you need. Aloe vera juice works well on dark and sun spots on the face when applied as a topical treatment. When applied for 30 min twice a day on dark patches on the skin, aloe vera makes them look less visible without any chemical residue.
Apple cider vinegar is similar in its action to store-bough chemical peels minus the added ingredients. All you need to do is to carefully dab your dark spots with a cotton saturated in vinegar. For more sensitive skin, dilute the vinegar with water or green tea.
Papaya and lemon offer natural alternatives to chemical peels. Simply rub your dark spots with slices of each fruit regularly. While these are completely natural remedies, remember to use the same caution as with store-bought chemical peels and apply sun protection products to avoid making your dark spots even worse.
A mask made of chopped parsley and yogurt helps brighten the skin and diminish the appearance of uneven pigmentation over time. Parsley is naturally rich in vitamin C and antioxidants which explains its efficiency.
Turmeric is traditionally used in Asia to brighten the complexion. While the turmeric mask may leave a yellowing tint on the skin, once it has been rinsed off, the skin looks visibly brighter and younger. Turmeric is a potent antioxidant that enables it to fight acne and skin aging.
When using homemade treatments for dark spots, it’s important to err on the side of caution. Always do a quick spot check for allergies and irritation by applying a drop of a solution to your skin on the neck. If irritation occurs, skip the treatment and move on to the next skin brightening ingredient in your beauty arsenal.