Dark Spots: Why You Get Them And Ways To Reduce Them

Dark spots, or hyperpigmentation, occurs when some areas of the skin produce more melanin than usual… Wait a minute, hyperpigmentation… Melanin… What does all this mean?

Hyperpigmentation is when patches of skin become darker than the normal tone of an individual’s complexion. This is also known as dark spots, these are common and caused by several factors.

Melanin is pigment that gives our skin, hair, and eyes color. Dark-skinned people have more melanin in their skin than light-skinned people.

So, how do we get hyperpigmentation (dark spots)? Simply put, dark spots are the result of the overproduction of melanin and/or free-radical damage (UV light). 

Dark spots do not hurt and many are harmless, like freckles. They can vary in size and are commonly found on the shoulders, hands, face, and back. 

We are all familiar with over-exposure to UV light and the negative impacts it can have on our skin. Over time we can develop these pesky dark spots that leave us feeling insecure about our once glowing and flawless exterior. I won’t go into all the reasons you should stay away from tanning beds (another blog for another day), but I will stress the importance of staying out of them. 

Now I LOVE the sun… Let me just say that again… I LOVE the sun! I grew up in the sun and by far sunshine is my happy place. There are so many benefits to getting the right amount of sunshine. Vitamin D for one and it’s a natural mood booster! Plus, seeing those bright rays shine down, lighting everything up and pouring life into colors, who doesn’t want to bask in that? 

BUT, it is important to be properly covered when in the sunshine and only spend a moderate amount of time exposed to it. Remember when I talked about melanin five paragraphs up? Melanin provides some protection against skin damage from the sun, and melanin cells (melanocytes) increase their production in response to sun exposure, thus creating dark spots. It is important to note that ANY complexion can get dark spots from the sun.

But UV light is not the only way to get dark spots. Over-production of melanin can be caused by certain medications such as tetracyclines, estrogens, and phenothiazines which can cause the skin to be photosensitive. Certain skin conditions like Riehl's Melanosis (type of dermatitis), melasma (pregnancy mask), and inflammatory lesions from acne can also cause dark spots. Most people are familiar with liver spots that are caused by liver disease and these too are considered dark spots.

Oh boy… OK, so we have many ways we can get dark spots, but how can we rid our facial canvases of these unwanted pests?

Before I keep going I think it is more than important to remind everyone reading this, that beauty is SO MANY things. And while dark spots are not a desirable feature we would choose to have, they do not take away your beauty. Say it with me… “Dark spots DO NOT define my beauty!” Good! Again…. “Dark spots DO NOT define my beauty!” 

Awesome! Let’s keep going… 

There are plenty of natural ways to reduce dark spots. You don’t have to spend loads of money on creams filled with toxins or on harsh chemical peels and you can find most of these natural ingredients right in your kitchen! BUT….before you try any homemade natural remedies make sure to conduct a patch test for sensitivity before applying to your entire face. Below are a few you can try at home. 

Apple Cider Vinegar - It speeds up the process of skin shedding and regrowth, allowing new skin (that is not discolored) to surface more quickly. 

Mix equal amounts of ACV and water and a few drops of lemon juice (orange works too). Use a clean cotton ball to apply all over face and neck.

Aloe Vera - Aloe vera contains aloin which is a depigmentation agent that helps to lighten dark areas on the skin.

Apply aloe vera gel directly to the dark spots and leave for 30 minutes, rinse with warm water. Repeat in both the morning and evening.

Turmeric - It contains curcumin, a powerful anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant, that reduces excess production of melanin. This helps to even skin tone and lighten scars.

Mix freshly-squeezed lemon with a pinch of turmeric and apply this paste to dark spots with a clean cotton ball. Let it sit for 20 minutes and rinse with warm water. 

I use all three for various skin-repairing reasons, but my favorite is turmeric. I had to rub my whole body in a turmeric paste for three days before I got married and my skin was absolutely radiant! Remember, most results don’t happen overnight. Some people see results in a few weeks while others in a few months. 

Pick one above, be sure to do a patch test first, and then get started! 

Love and light to you and your skin!

Tara Raj, CPC, ACC, CNWC, Skincare Consultant

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