The Dish on Dark Spots: How to Visibly Diminish Discoloration
When you have skin discoloration, chances are, learning how to get rid of those dark spots ranks towards the top of your to-do list. Dark spots—often dubbed age spots—can make your skin appear years older than it actually is. Whether caused by acne, air pollution, or sun exposure, dark spots can seem impossible to get rid of, but there are steps you can take—and thankfully, there are products to help reduce their appearance on your complexion! The tips and information below can help you learn how to visibly reduce the appearance of dark spots—and help keep more from popping up on your complexion!
What Are Dark Spots?
Dark spots on the skin’s surface occurs when melanin—the pigment that is responsible for the skin’s color—is produced in excess. This can appear all over the body or in concentrated areas. Dark spots can be tough to cover up with makeup and concealers and can also be difficult to get rid of! But by using products formulated to help fade their appearance over time—and by following expert skin care tips to help keep more from appearing—you can be well on your way to a brighter, more even-looking complexion.
What Can Cause Dark Spots?
Before you can learn how to get rid of dark spots on your skin’s surface, it’s important to know the factors that can cause dark spots to occur in the first place.
1. Sun Exposure
It almost goes without saying, but UVA and UVB rays are the main culprits behind most of our skin care woes—from visible fine lines and wrinkles to dry skin, and…you guessed it…dark spots. The sun’s skin-damaging UV rays are a leading cause of skin discoloration and dark spots on your facial complexion and on the rest of your body as well.
Ever notice the brown or reddish spot that seems to take the place of a blemish once the pimple itself has disappeared? Often the dark spot in this instance is caused less by the pimple and more by us. Popping or picking at a pimple can cause minor skin irritations that trigger melanin production in the form of a dark spot.
3. Air Pollution
According to a recent study, chronic exposure to traffic-related air pollution may cause dark spots to appear on our complexions.
4. Hormonal Fluctuations
When our hormones are on a proverbial roller coaster ride—during life changes such as pregnancy or menopause—it can result in a form of skin discoloration called melasma. While melasma can often subside on its own—after hormones have balanced once again—it can also be made worse with sun exposure.
While exfoliation is one of the ways to help achieve radiant-looking skin and an even tone, over-doing it—in hopes that it will help get rid of dark spots and an uneven skin tone— can actually cause more skin issues to occur. By over-using harsh scrubs you can trigger excess melanin production and unwanted discoloration.
Skin Brightening Products to Help Fade the Appearance of Dark Spots
If you’re hoping to get rid of dark spots you’ll first have to reset your expectations since you will only be likely to reduce their appearance at best. Unfortunately, when it comes to many skin care concerns—like dark spots—you can’t get rid of them all together, but you can help make them less noticeable! To achieve this you’ll want to reach for skin brightening products that work to gradually fade the appearance of dark spots over time—after all those spots didn’t just appear overnight! When used together with a broad-spectrum SPF, you can help skin appear brighter-and younger-looking skin and fade the look of those dark spots. Use a skin brightening product morning and night after cleansing but before using your moisturizer—just don’t forget to use SPF after the morning application.
8 Ways to Reduce the Appearance of Dark Spots
Now that you know what dark spots are, what can cause them, it’s time to learn the steps you can take to help fade their appearance! Below, you will find our top 8 tips to help.
1. Never, Ever…EVER Pick at Pimples
Since minor skin irritations—like picking, popping, or scratching at blemishes—can trigger excess melanin production, potentially causing dark spots and marks to pop up on the skin’s surface in the wake of a pimple. It’s imperative not to pick at your blemishes. Instead, use spot treatments and care for your skin with patience.
2. Use a Dark Spot Corrector
If you have dark spots and discoloration you’ll want to invest in a dark spot correcting product. Whether you choose a serum, a mask, or a nighttime moisturizer, there are many great products available that can help fade the appearance of dark spots over time.
3. Layer on Broad-Spectrum SPF—Every.Single.Day
Dr. Rebat M. Halder of the AAD notes that “the mainstay of treatment for hyperpigmentation is year-round sun protection—using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to maximize the benefit of any skin-lightening product.” Since continued sun exposure can not only cause dark spots to appear, but can also make existing discoloration worse, it’s key to wear sunscreen with broad-spectrum SPF each and every day and take sun protection measures—wearing sunglasses, wide brim hat, etc.—even when it’s cloudy. Plus, do your best to stay out of the sun’s UV rays during peak hours.
4. Arm Yourself with Acids
Chemical exfoliation with alpha-hydroxy acids—like glycolic and lactic acids—can help to gently slough off built-up dead skin cells on the skin’s surface. When this buildup is removed, newer more radiant-looking skin can be revealed and dark spots can appear lighter and less visible.
5. Layer on the Antioxidants
Some studies suggest that air pollution has been shown to the formation of visible dark spots. Applying a layer of products formulated with antioxidants under your sunscreen each day can help to shield your skin from the effects of free radicals. Look for products formulated with vitamin C, which is known to help brighten the appearance of skin and fade the look of dark spots.
6. Be Patient
Since some forms of discoloration may fade on their own—like melasma—sometimes it’s best to simply be patient. Just be sure you are applying broad-spectrum SPF while you wait things out, as sun exposure can cause melasma to darken in appearance.
7. Overnight Exfoliation
At-home peels that are used at night before bed are a great way to help visibly fade dark spots and achieve brighter-looking skin over time.
8. Reach for Products with Retinol
When used the right way, a product formulated with retinol is an effective tool to help you reduce the appearance of dark spots on the skin’s surface.
Since it takes time for dark spots to appear, you’ll need to give it time before you can truly start to see a reduction in their appearance. According to the AAD, once the possible cause of dark your spots is addressed, a spot that is a few shades darker than your skin can fade within 6 to 12 months. They go on to state that using products designed to help reduce the appearance of dark spots can speed up the fading process.
Expert Advice: If you notice a dark spot on your skin that’s new or one that has grown in size or changed in color, make an appointment with your dermatologist for a skin check. Skin discoloration, while often superficial, can sometimes be more serious and can be managed best if caught early. We share everything you need to know about what to expect from your first skin check.