Dark spots

8 Ways to Remove Stubborn Dark Spots on Your Face

Freckles are cute as a teen.

But dark spots on your face when you’re 37, not so much.

With age comes wisdom and grace.

And sadly, age spots seem to multiply every year.

We have had a lot of success treating pigmentation in our clients.

So, we put together this article on everything you need to know about dark spots.

What they are, why they occur, and, more importantly, how to prevent them.

Why do we struggle with dark spots

Whether caused by sun damage, inflammation or hormones, pigmentation is a problem many of us can relate to.

What is even worse is that hyperpigmentation can make you look even older than you are because your brain is programmed to register shade and light.

So, when you first look at an object or a face before registering any other details, you perceive an even skin tone as more pleasing. That’s right. We consider an uneven skin tone to be prematurely aged, lined, and wrinkled.

What Causes Dark Spots?

Dark spots on face are caused by an overproduction of melanin, a protective pigment in the skin; it’s a sign that the skin is damaged.

They are usually found in areas exposed to the sun—like your face, chest, hands, and arms—compared to non-sun-exposed areas.

You may have them for several reasons; too much sun exposure is the main culprit.

This study found (1) that hormonal fluctuations, medications, ageing, and liver disease are also mitigating factors.

So, knowing what you’re dealing with when it comes to uneven skin tone or dark spots on your skin is the key to successfully treating discolouration.

After all, you don’t want to treat that dangerous melanoma on your skin with laser treatment!

Why Are They Showing on My Skin?

Many of our clients and readers feel insecure about dark spots on their faces and worry about what people think when they try to cover them.

And while you can try to cover them with makeup, they can look worse.

Sun exposure and ageing

Remember how your mother constantly fretted over how you should be wearing sunscreen?

Well, she was right. It’s not just about preventing that nasty sunburn and future wrinkles because chronic, cumulative sun damage stimulates melanin production over the years. Sun-worshippers, beware.

The reason dark spots become more apparent with age is twofold:

  1. Ageing causes melanocyte cells to reduce but, in turn, increases the size and the production of hyper-pigmentation
  2. With age, your skin loses its protective ingredients and becomes thinner and dryer, emphasising dark spots on your face.

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) 

Have you ever picked at your skin only to find that the area became darker?

Or do you suffer from a skin condition like acne, eczema, perioral dermatitis or even an allergic reaction which has caused discoloured patches on your skin?

Post-inflammatory pigmentation is your body’s natural response to injury and inflammation.

But when the integrity of your skin is undermined, as with inflammation, it naturally produces melanin to protect it, which can lead to these troublesome dark spots.

Hormonal changes

Menopause, hormonal replacement therapy, or a change in birth control can cause your body to undergo significant hormonal shifts, leading to an overproduction of melanin called melasma.

If you are pregnant, you may have developed dark patches on your nose, jawline, chin or forehead, creating a pattern known as a “chloasma pregnancy mask“.

If this sounds like something you are experiencing, don’t panic; this hyperpigmentation usually lasts until the end of pregnancy and disappears when your hormone levels balance.

Medications

Certain medications, including antibiotics and steroids, can cause your skin to become pigmented.

Genetics

Some people are more prone to developing black spots based on their genetics. So, your family history may explain why you are experiencing excess melanin production in your skin.

7 Steps to Preventing Dark Spots

Now that you have a better understanding of why your skin is uneven let’s look at how to get rid of dark spots on your face:

1. Regularly Apply Your Sunscreen

The best way to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays is to wear sunscreen every day to prevent future discolouration preventing those pesky dark spots from appearing.

Be sure to apply sunscreen when it’s cloudy, as even overcast conditions can cause your skin to be affected by harmful UV rays.

We recommend a daily preventative routine that includes applying a broad-spectrum SPF 30 or higher sunscreen.

The key to correctly using sunscreen is to apply it 30 minutes before going out and reapply it every two hours on any areas of your skin exposed to the sun.

If you want to learn more about sunscreen, our article, the five best sunscreen practices for healthy skin, will show you how.

2. Topically Apply Vitamin C

Vitamin C can aid your skin’s ability to heal itself, which is why we suggest it as your go-to when looking to reduce those stubborn dark spots.

This study (2) found that Vitamin C improves hyperpigmentation by dispersing and inhibiting melanin production.

The other great thing about Vitamin C is that it stabilises and creates collagen, making it one of the most reliable anti-ageing ingredients.

There are many different vitamin C ingredients available.

Still, after years of experience working directly with the skin and hyper-pigmentation, we have found that ascorbic acid produces the best results—it has the highest potency when applied topically and the fastest absorption.

We love this ingredient so much for treating dark spots on the skin that we have compiled a laundry list of vitamin C benefits.

You should use your vitamin C products during the day to harness their powerful antioxidant properties, and remember to layer with sunscreen.

3. Use a Well Formulated Product

There is a wealth of skincare to help treat mild to moderate pigmentation.

However, as discussed below, look for products containing tyrosinase inhibitors to prevent melanin production and prevent facial discolouration.

Gentle acids will not stop melanin production but will lessen hyperpigmentation, creating an even skin tone and refining your skin’s surface to make it more luminous.

A word of warning against one popular ingredient, hydroquinone, doesn’t remove pigmentation but only lightens it.

With repeated use, you will find that your dark spots appear and will come back much more intensely after repeated use.

4. Apply Topical Antioxidants 

If you are concerned about removing your sunspots, please don’t overlook the power of photoprotective antioxidants.

To get sciencey about it, when applied topically, they donate electrons to neutralise free radicals created in your skin after oxidative stress—oxidative stress = sun damage = premature ageing.

Whilst antioxidants don’t protect your skin like an SPF, they help minimise the damage you can’t see.

Some antioxidants with photoprotective properties include vitamin E, ferulic acid, green tea, and liquorice.

5. Book in for a Power Peel

A medium-depth peel is a great way to target dark spots on the face, uneven pigmentation, melasma, and the general texture of your skin.

Your peel works to lift away accumulated layers of skin discolouration, allowing new, healthy skin to form in its place, visibly reducing the appearance of dark spots.

When new skin forms, it will be evener, leaving your skin lighter and brighter with more evenness and clarity.

We recommend a mandelic acid peel to our clients. Its larger molecules make it ideal for brightening darker skin types.

Glycolic acid, on the other hand, with its smaller molecular structure, speeds up skin healing of any post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation; because it is the smallest of the AHAs, it is the fastest type of ingredient for penetrating your skin.

We have put together a handy guide if you want to learn more about how peels for dark spots can help remove your hyperpigmentation.

6. Try Laser Therapy

If you have severe pigmentation, professional treatment could help.

Laser treatment is an option for dark spots on face; the laser wavelengths penetrate deep into your skin to break down the pigmentation.

The number of treatments you need will depend on the type of laser your doctor uses.

If not performed correctly, this treatment can have adverse reactions. Be sure to book in with an experienced licensed skincare specialist or dermatologist who will give you a thorough consultation, correctly assess your skin tone, and explain the pros and cons and what to expect during the procedure.

7. Red Light Therapy 

Red light therapy is a powerful treatment that can help eliminate dark spots from your skin. You can read more about it here

8. Wear Protective Clothes

One of the best ways to prevent these frustrating dark spots on the face is to follow safe sun practices.

Wear a wide-brimmed hat or cap as much as possible to prevent your face from coming into direct contact with harmful rays.

Wear sunglasses with UV protection to protect your eyes from damage and minimise squinting, which can lead to wrinkles.

In addition, avoid going outdoors when the UV index is high—usually between 11 a.m. and noon. If you must be in the sun during these times, don’t forget your sunscreen.

Recommendations

Now that you understand how to get rid of dark spots on your face, it’s worth discussing the different types of skincare to help you on your journey.

At the Naked Chemist, a big part of our work involves treating dark spots and pigmentation.

We recommend looking for products containing tyrosinase inhibitor ingredients that stop melanin production and prevent discolouration.

Kojic acid, azelaic acid, vitamin C, A and B derivatives and liquorice root extract are all examples of tyrosinase inhibitors that we have included in our products below:

For this reason, we created several formulas that contain tyrosinase-inhibiting ingredients that target pigment at different layers in your skin:

C+ ascorbic acid skinshot is a hero product in our clinic. Formulated with cetyl ascorbic acid and antioxidants, it is a game-changer in your skincare routine, especially if you want to resurface and lighten stubborn areas of pigmentation.

Glo skin shot contains several ingredients to add to your arsenal for battling hyperpigmentation. The skin-brightening ingredients target surface spots, including melasma and sun-induced hyperpigmentation.

Our clients have seen excellent results using the C+ skin shot for over three months.

We talked earlier about the power of antioxidants in neutralising free radicals, which can cause dark spots and premature ageing. When used in a combination of N acetyl glutathione and niacinamide, two of the most potent antioxidants, it blocks the transfer of pigment onto your skin’s surface to limit darkening and prevent it from forming in the first place.

Both ingredients are in our B+ niacinamide skin shot, a powerful balancing, anti-ageing serum that pulls pigment deep within the dermis for a more youthful, glowing complexion.

Reset cream is a unique formula containing skin-identical ingredients. It helps with sunspot removal by layering over any of the above serums, lifting pigment deep from within the dermis.

To conclude. The naked truth

In conclusion, the struggle with dark spots, or hyperpigmentation, is a common concern stemming from various factors such as sun exposure, inflammation, hormonal changes, medications, and genetics.

These dark spots can make us appear older than we are, affecting our confidence and self-esteem. Understanding the causes behind them is crucial in effectively addressing this issue.

There are several approaches to remove dark spots and prevent their recurrence:

  1. Regular Sunscreen Application: Shielding your skin from harmful UV rays with daily broad-spectrum SPF 30 or higher sunscreen helps prevent further pigmentation.
  2. Topical Vitamin C: Vitamin C aids skin healing and inhibits melanin production, promoting a more even skin tone and combating signs of ageing.
  3. Well-Formulated Skincare Products: Look for products containing tyrosinase inhibitors and gentle acids to reduce hyperpigmentation and refine skin texture.
  4. Topical Antioxidants: Utilise antioxidants like vitamin E, ferulic acid, green tea, and liquorice to neutralise free radicals and minimise oxidative stress.
  5. Power Peels: Medium-depth peels can target dark spots and uneven pigmentation, revealing brighter, clearer skin.
  6. Laser Therapy: Professional laser treatments penetrate deep into the skin to break down pigmentation, requiring multiple sessions for optimal results.
  7. Red Light Therapy: This powerful treatment can help eliminate dark spots by promoting skin regeneration.
  8. Protective Clothing: Wearing protective clothing, hats, and sunglasses, especially during peak sun exposure hours, reduces direct contact with harmful rays.

Moreover, incorporating skincare products containing tyrosinase-inhibiting ingredients and vitamin derivatives can further reduce pigment and rejuvenate skin.

Understanding the underlying causes of dark spots and adopting a comprehensive skincare routine to address them can help restore confidence and achieve a more radiant complexion.

If you need more advice, please email us a photo. We will assess your skin on the Fitzpatrick scale and advise you accordingly to help you eliminate those stubborn dark spots on your face.

References

  1. Skin-Aging Pigmentation: Who Is the Real Enemy?
  2. The effect of Vitamin C on melanin pigmentation – A systematic review

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.