Writer and expert /
Dark spots seem to appear overnight and out of the blue, but there is an explanation for their appearance. These dark spots, technically referred to as hyperpigmentation, are areas in the skin where there has been an overproduction of melanin.
Melanin, produced in the pineal gland, is the substance responsible for the color in the skin. When circumstances prompt an overproduction of melanin, dark spots occur.
Hyperpigmentation can be prompted by some form of trauma or irritation to the skin, notably sun damage, acne breakouts and other sources of inflammation. It can also be triggered by hormonal changes (such as those in pregnancy), some oral medications, laser hair removal or resurfacing treatments and rashes.
Melasma is a medical condition caused by hyperactive melanocytes (pigment producing cells) that create an overproduction of melanin resulting in dark spots. Hyperpigmentation caused by the hormonal changes of pregnancy, known as chloasma, typically fades after pregnancy, but other types of hyperpigmentation can be difficult to correct.#
While these dark spots can be frustrating, there are effective treatments that can clear and brighten the skin within a matter of weeks. Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) are very effective at lightening and clearing the skin through exfoliation. M2 Skin Refinish 12% uses a gentle, yet potent combination of mandelic and malic acids to reduce hyperpigmentation. Unlike some other treatments for discoloration, mandelic and malic acids are safe for use while pregnant and nursing.
In addition to AHA’s, vitamin C is a great option to lighten discoloration. This natural ingredient clears the skin and adds a glow, while also boosting collagen production. SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic includes vitamin C plus protective vitamin E and ferulic acid to neutralize damage.
For those with more stubborn hyperpigmentation, hydroquinone (HQ) is a powerful bleaching ingredient that fades the appearance of hyperpigmentation. Cycling on and off this ingredient renders the best results and keeps the skin from becoming sensitized to its benefits. PrecisionMD Vivatia Brightening Complex contains 2% HQ, but matches the performance of a 4% HQ which requires a doctor’s prescription. A good sunscreen must be used daily when using any product containing HQ.
We suggest La Roche-Posay Anthelios 50 Mineral Tinted Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid. It is great for all skin types and gives a little coverage while protecting the skin.
Age spots, acne marks, melasma and other forms of hyperpigmentation affect most people at some point in their life, particularly from middle age and beyond. Fortunately, there are many options to even your skin tone and create a luminous complexion. Other ingredients you should look for to help reduce pigmentation are kojic acid, arbutin, licorice extract and resveratrol.
By Shelby Gerson