The Dark Side of Skincare: Dark Spots and Hyperpigmentation

Nobody likes dark spots, fine lines and wrinkles, and finding a solution to these skin problems can oftentimes be tricky! Dark spots or hyperpigmentation typically occur when certain areas of the skin overproduce melanin, the chemical responsible for giving our skin, hair, and eyes their pigment. While dark spots can be annoying, in most cases they will not need treatment, though many choose to remove them for cosmetic reasons! They are often the outcome of aging or sun exposure or hormones.

Dark spots on the skin can range in shade and size, depending on the original tone of one’s skin. Dark spots and hyperpigmentation are most common in areas prone to sun exposure, for example, the face, hands, chest, shoulders, and back. These patches of discoloration are also the outcome of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation where skin trauma heals and leaves discoloration behind, or melasma, a hormonal skin condition. Ultimately, the biggest trigger of dark spots and hyperpigmentation for the skin is sun exposure. It is best to wear a hat, lather on the sunscreen and avoid the sun during peak hours to mitigate this unwarranted risk.

There are just about a dozen ways to fade and prevent the reappearance of existing pigment spots! Vitamin C and Ferulic acid are two ingredients that we’ve written about before that provide long-lasting protection against sun radiation and environmental damage. Both items improve dullness and hyperpigmentation to brighten dark spots and uneven skin tone.

Kojic acid is another skin lightener that is commonly used to reduce the activity of pigment cells and melanin. It is often used in conjunction with hydroquinone. Hydroquinone can be applied topically in an over the counter or prescription concentration. Hydroquinone inhibits tyrosinase, which is a chemical that aids the production of melanin.

In addition to topical creams, serums, and peels, many people find that microdermabrasion is a helpful treatment for hyperpigmentation. This is because microdermabrasion uses tiny particles to exfoliate and lift away dead skin and even skin tone.  This, in addition to chemical peels, works to gradually fade away dark spots and enhance skin regrowth and rejuvenation.

Overall, the real key to prevent dark spots and hyperpigmentation is to reduce frequent sun exposure, or limit such exposure by applying sunscreen and completing after sun care to protect the skin from sun damage!

Written by: Rachel Alter

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