Dark spots, age spots, sun spots...how your skincare routine can halt the spread
Like other aging signs, you don’t think about dark spots, until they’re all you think about. What appeared as a cute little brown freckle may have expanded into something really making its mark – in size and in impact on your self-consciousness. To set about removing them, first, we need to understand what dark spots are and why they tend to first appear on your face as you age. And also, most importantly, to check they’re not dangerous. For that consult your dermatologist.
Hit the spot – understanding hyperpigmentation
Behind every dark spot is the process of hyperpigmentation. Where one pigment – melanin, responsible for producing color in the skin, goes into hyperactive overdrive. This increased quantity of melanin may be caused by skin damage, primarily from the sun, inflammation, acne or other aggressions responsible for inflammation release as stress or fatigue. Being pregnant also causes greater production, resulting in the pregnancy mask (melasma). With age the number of dark spots increases. And simple genetics can play their role. So dark spots can be due to at least six different, or any combination of, factors. Luckily, the appearance of a dark spot doesn’t mean it’s here to stay.
How to remove dark spots
Besides aesthetic power-zapping treatments, dermatologist-tested daily skincare steps can help to gently halt the spread of dark spots. The right brightening ingredients, together with exfoliants to physical slough off skin cells, make light work of progressively fading out dark spots. Try natural peels based on fruit acids (AHA) or glycolic acid, that despite the ‘acid’ in their name are as gentle as they are effective. Look out for Keratolytic ingredients – those that promote the softening and peeling of the epidermis – as they help increase skin renewal and restore an even skin tone.
Get even more protective: Daily skincare with…SPF
SPF – plentifully and daily - protects skin all over but particularly where melanin has already gone into overdrive. Sun exposure is the number one factor in skin pigmentation changes1. Studies show that the aging process in the 20–80-year age group produces a yearly decrease in skin lightness, but that regularly applying a sun-protective cosmetic product counteracts this darkening process. One more reason to make SPF as routine as moisturizer.
Go bright: Use a Vitamin C Cream to get rid of dark spots
Dose your skin up on Vitamin C. This natural element is one of dermatology’s best-known ingredients for disrupting the process of melanin-making entirely – going double-duty in prevention and correction. Its combined anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory action helps to stop new dark spots forming by zapping the free radicals caused by UV and pollution. Its Vitamin-strength also inhibits the key enzyme (tyrosinase) behind melanin production (melanogenesis)2. Also known as ascorbic acid, look for the purest forms of Vitamin C in high strengths. From 5%, it’s effective in countering pigmentation3.
Go deep: Cleanse excess melanin away
Exfoliating skin helps to takes away excess melanin, before it’s set too deep, and encourages new cell turnover. A new generation of cosmetics powered by natural-origin exfoliating ingredients with demonstrated natural peeling action can lift away the excess. Look out for those based on fruit acids (AHA) or glycolic acid to eliminate melanin pigments, prevent discoloration and promote evenness.
1 Seasonal skin darkening in Chinese women: the Shanghaiese experience of daily sun protection: Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology
2 N' Guyen (2002) showed the inhibitive action of the Vitamin CG on the activity of the mushroom tyrosinase
3 Moyal D, 06/2003 and 12/2003