As you get older, darker spots will likely develop on your skin. This is just another natural part of aging and nothing to be ashamed of. However, you may want to even out your complexion. The Active Times consulted a few skin experts for insight on what causes these dark spots and how to treat them.
According to Ron Robinson, CEO of BeautyStat Cosmetics, dark spots are caused by an overproduction of melanin, which is the natural pigment in your skin. There are a variety of explanations for this process, so before self-treating any dark spot, you should make an appointment with a doctor. A medical professional can rule out any dangerous conditions or help you to treat spots that arose due to a medical issue.
“Dark spots are a rather broad category, from harmless freckles to deadly melanomas,” wrote Viseslav Tonkovic-Capin, a board-certified dermatologist and dermatopathologist. “Therefore, before treating any dark spot, you just have to see a dermatologist.”
The most common cause of these dark spots among young and middle-aged women is melasma, a benign skin condition that often results from hormonal changes or sun exposure.
“Hyperpigmented patches develop primarily on the cheekbones, forehead and upper lip and can also be on the nose, chin, lower cheeks and lateral neck,” wrote board-certified dermatologist Dr. Craig Kraffert.
You can treat these dark spots at home by applying the right skin lightening cream and protecting your skin from the sun. If only one of these treatments are used, you will not see results.
“Strict and consistent avoidance of sun exposure is mandatory,” wrote Kraffert. “Just one day of unprotected sun exposure can disrupt and even destroy the benefit from months of meticulously applied brightening creams. Effective broad-spectrum sun protection, sun avoidance and sun protective clothing are essential for lasting results.”
According to Tonkovic-Capin, the majority of dark spots are caused by UV exposure, which is why it is crucial to invest in a high-quality mineral sunscreen containing titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide.
Similar to anti-aging creams, some skin lightening products are better than others.
When it comes to choosing the right skin lightening cream, Dr. Yoram Harth, a board-certified dermatologist and medical director of MDAcne, told The Active Times that some ingredients will give better results than others. Plant-based products, for example, may not deliver results as quickly. These products are usually derived from licorice, bearberry, vitamin C or kojic acid.
“There are a few plant-based skin lightening products on the market,” he wrote. “These products can have some effect but the results, if any, appear after many, many months.”
Although treating your skin with plant-based products may seem desirable, Harth recommends a product with hydroquinone, “the most effective anti-dark-spot ingredient,” and retinoid, which helps enhance the penetration of hydroquinone.
“For best results, hydroquinone-based dark spot remover should be used for three to six months,” he wrote. “With consistent, daily application, you can expect to see significant results within two to three months.”
If you’re looking for a quicker treatment, Tonkovic-Capin also listed liquid nitrogen cryotherapy as an option, but this procedure can only be done at a doctor’s office and will only be worthwhile is your skin is no longer developing any new spots.
If you are looking to even your complexion, remember to stick to the basics. No matter how much money you invest in spot-correcting products and treatments, old-fashioned sunscreen will always be the holy grail for maintaining healthy, glowing skin.