Have you noticed some unevenness in your skin lately? Age spots, darkened areas, acne scars, pregnancy masks, and other types of skin discoloration can make you feel older than you are, and may encourage you to reach for harsh lightening products like hydroquinone, or even get you thinking about cosmetic surgery.
Such drastic measures aren’t necessary, however, as Mother Nature has given us plenty of solutions that work with the skin, rather than against it.
Worried about dark spots? You don’t have to be harsh with your skin.
What is Hyperpigmentation?
Hyperpigmentation is a general term encompassing all types of dark areas of skin. The condition occurs when the body produces too much of the skin pigment, melanin, in certain areas, causing those dark, blotchy patches.
Melanin is the pigment responsible for producing our skin and eye color, as well as the color of our hair. As the body ages, however, the skin is less able to properly distribute the pigment, increasing the risk of uneven skin tone.
The most commonly affected parts of the skin include the forehead, cheeks, upper lip, and chin. After the age of 30, hyperpigmentation can also show up as age spots on the hands and other areas of the body.
What Causes Hyperpigmentation?
Hyperpigmentation is often triggered by other factors. The most common one is the sun. Exposure to damaging UV rays, whether from the sun or tanning beds, can trigger the overproduction of melanin, causing dark spots and discoloration.
The second most common trigger is hormonal changes. Women who take birth control pills or who are pregnant may experience hyperpigmentation as the body reacts to the change in hormone levels. This produces a type of skin darkening called “melasma,” which typically affects the cheeks, chin, and forehead.
Inflammation is the third most common trigger. When the skin becomes inflamed, due to acne, chemical peels, or other skin treatments or damage, the skin may react by producing too much melanin during the healing process.
Various medical conditions may also lead to hyperpigmentation. These may include Addison’s disease, Cushing’s disease, celiac disease, and other genetic and hormonal disorders. Smoking can also increase risk.
How is it Treated?
Treatment of hyperpigmentation typically starts with skin creams that help fade dark spots through exfoliation. These creams slough away the outer layer of skin, allowing new and lighter skin to show through underneath. Some of these creams include alpha hydroxy acids, as well as Retinol (a form of vitamin A). Many individuals with sensitive skin, however, may find these treatments too harsh.
Hydroquinone is a chemical skin lightener that is approved to fade dark areas by decreasing the production of the skin’s pigment cells. This ingredient is often found in lightening creams, and does work to fade dark spots over time, but can increase the risk of dermatitis and decreased skin elasticity, which can accelerate the look of aging. Animal studies have also found some evidence that hydroquinone may damage skin, so the FDA has restricted non-prescription concentrations to only 2 percent.
Using any of these products requires strict adherance to sun protection. Exposure to UV rays while using acids to exfoliate or hydroquinone to lighten will result in even more darkened areas and perhaps scarring.
A Better, Gentler Way
I believe that skin responds best when we treat it well. If we’re too harsh with acids or disrupt its natural processes with chemicals like hydroquinone, we’re likely to see it reacting in ways that don’t make us happy! Skin may be lighter, but it may also be thinner, duller, and less able to hold its shape.
Regular treatment with ingredients that work with the skin, on the other hand, are more likely to help lighten dark spots and help skin to become as healthy as it can be. For those struggling with hyperpigmentation, I recommend my Anti-Aging Serum and Coconut Honey Mask.
Daily treatment with the Anti-Aging Serum boosts the production of collagen, helping skin to regain its youthful spring, and also naturally protects from damaging UV rays. Natural fatty acids from life everlasting flowers also help calm and reduce redness while helping to reduce the appearance of dark spots. The stimulating properties of rosemary help repair broken capillaries and fade skin discoloration.
Use the Coconut Honey Mask about two times a week. Honey contains gluconic acid, which is a mild alpha hydroxy acid that gently exfoliates to provide a brighter tone to skin.
Try this regimen for about 12 weeks and see if you don’t notice a difference! Not only will your dark spots fade, but your skin will look more hydrated, firm, and vibrant overall.
Have you tried these products to lighten dark spots? Please share your experience.