Do you have dark spots? Have you tried countless creams and lotions without results? Do you wish you could leave the house without putting on a full face?
Well you are not alone. I see dozens of women each week who have this very complaint. Some are so depressed about their appearance they decline social events or won’t take photos.
If this is you, or someone you know, keep reading because I’ve got good news!
With the right products, consistency, and a little time you can improve your dark spots.
What are dark spots? My patients often describe them as scars, but that is not entirely the case.
Dark spots or hyperpigmentation are due to the overproduction of melanin in the skin by melanocytes. This extra melanin can be triggered by a lot of different things. Hormones (which is why these changes are common in pregnancy) Or the sun can increase the level of melanin in the skin. Additionally, age can increase the size of the melanocytes (hello age spots).
The most common cause of dark spots I see in my Dermatology office is from acne and picking.
1. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a topical antioxidant that helps to block free radicals from causing oxidative damage to the skin (which can lead to wrinkles and a dull complexion, among other things. It also inhibits enzymatic processes that produce melanin in the skin, which makes it an effective dark spot buster.
Another added benefit is that vitamin C only lightens targets problem pigmentation areas, not the rest of your skin so you don’t have to worry about “bleaching” your entire skin tone.
When it comes to dark spot treatments, hydroquinone has been the gold standard for over 50 years. You can find this ingredient over the counter in concentrations of 2 percent or less, whereas the prescription has 4 percent or greater. It works by inhibiting an enzyme called tyrosinase, which aids in the production of melanin. The less tyrosinase produced, the less melanin produced.
It can cause something called “ghosting” which is lightening of the skin outside the area that you are trying to treat so use caution when applying it and I don’t advise using it longer than 6-8 weeks.
3. Kojic Acid
Kojic acid (derived from mushrooms or fermented rice) is commonly used in skin lighteners, and is best used in conjunction with another brightener such as hydroquinone for maximum results. It works by suppressing a key factor in the activity of the pigment cells. The risk commonly associated with topical kojic acid is allergic dermatitis, which is a type of rash caused by an allergic reaction. I would start with low concentrations and test a small area on face for 2-3 days.
4. Azelaic acid
Azelaic acid is a naturally occurring extract from oat, wheat, or rye that interferes with production of abnormal pigmentation. I love to use it for dark spots caused by acne because it has antibacterial properties that can help banish acne. Avoid this ingredient if you have gluten sensitivities.
Retinoid works very well for dark spots. Retinoid is a vitamin A derivative that speeds up cell turnover which is very effective for dark spots. It has the added bonus of preventing and treating acne. The number one complaint of retinoid is irritation. I advise using just a pea sized amount to entire face and start using it one night a week then gradually work your way up as tolerated. I think this derivative is so effective, I am developing a Retinol serum with emollients and a patented timed release that will make it easier to apply every night for even better results! (stay tuned, it is in the works!)
Lasers are the most expensive, yet most impactful treatment to reduce dark spots. These use a focused beam of light that has a specific target or chromophore (pigment) to break up and eliminate the pigment particles in the skin. IPL (intense pulsed light) can treat unwanted pigmentation. However, it delivers less focused light and may have an unwanted effect on the surrounding skin, especially in darker skin individuals. To avoid this, look for facilities that uses the newer, Nd: YAG lasers, or another laser with a focused beam.
7. Chemical Peels
Exfoliating treatments like chemical peels remove the upper layers of dead skin helping to reduce the dull appearance of the skin so that it reflects light better and appears to glow. Common active ingredients in pro-grade peels include glycolic, mandelic, salicylic, and lactic acids, along with trichloroacetic acid. While at-home peels are available, they are more likely to slough off dead skin rather than get deep enough to lighten dark spots so invest in having this done professionally.
No matter what product you choose, you must wear sunscreen every day of the year or dark spots will persist.
Still confused? Don’t know where to start? Click here to schedule a video consultation with me and we will discuss your skin care concerns and come up with a custom designed skin care plan!
With the right products, consistency, and a little time (give it 8-12 weeks) you can finally erase dark spots and use makeup as an enhance to your natural beauty, not as a necessary cover-up!
Creator & CEO of Perfect Skin Code
Vitamin C has multiple benefits. From brightening dark spots to protecting against UV damage and free radicals, it is really a must-have. However, there are some things you should know before starting. Use Vitamin C serum in the morning. That is not a fast and dirty...