Dark spots on our skin can be frustrating. Melasma, hyperpigmentation, age spots, brown spots – whatever they may be called, one thing is certain: we want them gone. But why do they happen?
While it usually occurs during pregnancy, many women are especially susceptible to these dark spots during menopause. What makes it worse is that these spots often appear on the face, which can affect how we see and carry ourselves.
Why do we get dark spots?
For some, it could be a lifelong condition. But for many women, it’s during the onset of menopause that these dark spots occur. Any areas that look darker than your natural skin tone is called hyperpigmentation. Hyperpigmentation is a general term that describes the overproduction of pigments, resulting in darker patches of skin.
Melasma is a kind of hyperpigmentation. This is often the condition that affects women during their menopausal stages. The hormonal changes during menopause plus damaging sun exposure are the common reasons why these dark spots occur.
Research has found that the elevated levels of estrogen and progesterone levels can be the culprits behind increased skin pigmentation. These hormonal levels stimulate melanocytes to increase pigment production.
It’s also common to get these dark spots during the summer. It’s the high levels of sun exposure that can cause melasma and skin inflammation which can also trigger pigment production. It’s also the reason why people with melasma have recurrences.
Is it dangerous?
Melasma is neither painful nor dangerous. It isn’t itchy or uncomfortable either. However, these recurring dark spots can be troublesome especially if you’re especially conscious about your skin.
It is worthy to note that melasma is not cancerous, a symptom of cancer or a condition that leads to cancer. But there are skin cancers can mimic melasma so it’s important to see your dermatologist to confirm the right diagnosis for your skin.
While treatments are not necessary for safety, leaving dark spots alone can lead to further darkening of the skin or make the spots permanent. Fortunately, there are many ways to get rid of these pesky dark patches of skin. All sorts of hyperpigmentation can be treated by neutralizing pigment overproduction.
With these treatments, you can bring evenness back to your natural skin tone:
1. Wear Sunscreen
Prevention is one of the optimal solutions to treat dark spots. Sun exposure is the leading cause of melasma, so its important to protect your skin from the UV rays and the heat. Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 or over every day. Sun hats and shades also provide good protection for your face especially during hot and bright days.
2. Good Nutrition
Eating the right food provides your body the nutrients it needs to combat dark skin spots. Having an anti-inflammatory diet that is rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids help provide additional sun protection.
3. Encourage Skin Cell Turnover
Our skin constantly sheds old cells. What you want are fresh and healthy skin cells to take over. Ingredients in your skin care routine that have retinol, hyaluronic acid and antioxidants are good ways to improve cell turnover and keep your skin moist and supple. Encouraging the growth of fresh new skin cells helps address pigment issues and are key to healthy looking skin. Also regular and gentle exfoliation is enough to slough off the dead layers of skin that can cause dull, "tired" looking skin. We highly recommend a Konjac Sponge that is effective yet gentle enough for mature skin.
4. Topical Treatments
Many skin care products offer great benefits for your skin, including evening your skin tone. However, it’s important to read the labels and use products that have the right ingredients to protect your skin. Products with Vitamin A and C are good indications to help rid your skin of dark spots.
5. Skin Procedures
Treating melasma and other hyperpigmentation conditions include procedures like laser, peels, microdermabrasion and light therapies. These should be carried out by trusted dermatologists to avoid further irritation and damage to your skin. Also, allow yourself some recovery time after the procedures as they may require some healing and avoiding the sun altogether.
Applying over the counter (OTC) topical creams and serums may be your most convenient option when dealing with dark spots. It’s advisable too to watch out for products that have organic ingredients for less risk of irritation. Irritation can lead to worsening the dark spots on your skin.
With that in mind, here are some key ingredients to combat dark spots:
1. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that’s widely known to protect and repair cells. Skin cells are no exception. How it works against dark spots is it helps prevent the absorption of UV radiation and formation of harmful free radicals, effectively reducing the production of melanin.
Roseroot inhibits tyrosinase activity, and can therefor reduce melanin formation in skin and therefor gives a skin whitening and brightening effect. Roseroot is also known as the “golden root” because of its health improving and skin conditioning benefits. It’s rich in compounds like flavonoids that possess anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Flavonoids naturally occur in plants as protection against environmental damage and can also translate to protecting your skin.
A derivative of Vitamin A, retinol encourages cell turnover. This allows your skin to shed old cells faster and effectively reduce the dark spots, replacing them with fresher, newer cells.
4. Hyaluronic Acid
Hyaluronic Acid (HA) is a substance that helps maintain your connective tissues and retain cell structure. When applied topically, HA can penetrate your skin layer to help retain moisture and help create a protective barrier for your skin. It’s anti-inflammatory properties to reduce the risk of irritation and worsening of dark skin spots.
5. Water-free products
When searching for a good topical skin care product, water is surprisingly NOT an ingredient you would like to see on the label. Aside from environmental concerns, water in creams and serums dilutes the effectivity of other ingredients and reduces the benefits you receive from your product. Consider more potent ingredient carriers such as Birch Tree sap, that’s rich with antioxidants, for clearer and longer lasting results.
In the end, it all comes down to how you treat your skin. Melasma is caused and worsened by irritation. So your best bet is to choose gentle organic products that aim to improve skin health. Don’t waste your money on ineffective products and find one that is most suitable for your skin.
Brightening Skincare products: