Brown spots show a passage of time most people don't want written across their face. Call them a sign of wisdom or a youth lived fully, but these marks diminish that healthy glow and can be difficult to cover. So, what are brown spots?
There are multiple causes of these unsightly marks and, luckily, multiple ways to get rid of them.
What causes brown spots?
A dark mark is caused by melanin (skin pigment) that's densely collected in one place on the epidermis, also known as hyperpigmentation. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), common areas for brown spots are the face (particularly the forehead), backs of hands, shoulders, forearms and decolletage. Whether you call them age spots, liver spots, scars or dark marks, at least we know the culprits:
When we're young, we associate a deep tan with health and fitness, roasting in the sun like a rotisserie chicken for hours without protection. The sun is the biggest cause of discolorations on the skin as well as other forms of ultraviolet light, not to mention skin cancer.
Not only are pimples annoying when you have them, they leave marks behind to remind you where they were. These marks can be caused by picking at the pimple or a family history of acne with scarring. To avoid these marks, keep your hands and hair off your face to prevent irritation. Although different from typical brown spots, they can be treated much the same way.
Hormone imbalances can lead to brown spots and potentially more severe discoloration, known as melasma. This condition creates larger patches of hyperpigmentation during periods of great hormonal shifts, like pregnancy, and become intensified with sun exposure. Melasma is usually treated with topical creams, microdermabrasion and chemical peels and controlled by using sunscreen with an SPF of 80 or higher.
Sadly, even if you're good to your skin all your life, some brown spots are to be expected as the skin ages and hormones fluctuate. These bodily changes alter the tone, texture and elasticity.
Now that you know the causes of your spots, it's time to get rid of them. Mircodermabrasion, chemical peels and laser treatments are effective options, but they can be expensive and physically uncomfortable. The science has improved greatly behind popular topical treatments for brown spots, making natural solutions possible. When shopping for a home treatment, these are the ingredients to look for:
Hydroquinone -- By far the most effective ingredient, hydroquinone penetrates the top layer of skin, reaching the collected melanin in the epidermis and working as a bleaching agent. Non-prescription treatments contain no more than two percent hydroquinone. However, this ingredient can be irritating to sensitive skin.
Kojic Acid -- Used for preventing the over collection of melanin that causes hyperpigmentation, kojic acid is a by-product of fermentation, produced by certain species of fungi.
Vitamin C -- This powerful antioxidant helps to create an even skin tone and break up hyperpigmentation. Vitamin C is best used on the entire face instead of just spots. Antioxidants also prevent future damage that can age the skin.
Glycolic Acid -- This acid is a chemical exfoliant, which helps remove layers of dead skin cells to lighten discolorations.
Retinol -- Praised for its anti-aging benefits with it comes to banishing wrinkles, retinol is a form of vitamin A that combats hyperpigmentation by speeding up cell turnover.
These ingredients work best when paired up, so read labels carefully. Selecting a formula with aloe vera or vitamin E will also soothe the skin and help prevent irritation. Most products need to be applied twice a day for optimal results.
Preventing New Spots
When treating brown spots, be prepared to wait. Results can take several weeks to months to become noticable. Your skin needs constant maintenance to look its best, especially in the fight against aging. To prevent the appearance of new brown spots, and other signs of aging, follow these tips from the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD):
Moisturize the skin daily for plump, bright skin.
Follow instructions for all products you buy, testing them on small areas for possible allergic reactions and discontinuing use if stinging or burning occur.
Work on your pale instead of your tan to prevent visible signs of aging or making present discolorations worse and reduce your risk for skin cancer.
Shop for a broad-spectrum sunscreen and wear it all year long.
Resist the urge to pick at pimples, which can lead to scarring.
Less is more. Don't overdue it with too many products.
A spotty complexion doesn't have to be forever. Take care of your skin and you'll get carded for years to come.
Products you may like:
Reviva Labs Brown Spot Skin Lightening Night Cream Why you may like this product? The key ingredient in this
product is hydroquinone, a
bleaching agent known to help
break up hyperpigmentation
deep below the skin's surface
for amazing results. This
cream has a natural base of
refined vegetable oil for
Life-Flo AgeSpot-Care Why you may like this product? A blend of age-fighting
ingredients makes this product
so effective at eliminating
dark spots. Glycolic acid, tea
tree oil and vitamin E are all
included in this daily