Have you ever felt plagued by dark spots, scars, and blemish marks that won’t budge no matter what? We have. But fret not, we’ve got the lowdown on how to deal with these pesky face squatters!
An uneven complexion and a host of dark spots, whether from sun damage or old acne scars, are among the most common skin concerns. But regardless of how it happens, the unshakeable fact remains that these stubborn marks are sitting on your skin and refusing to get lost. Chances are you want them out away ASAP, but nothing seems to be helping. Sometimes slathering on products and hoping for the best just won’t cut it, which is why we’re shedding light (get it?) on brightening products and exactly what you should be looking for and doing in order to see results.
Why Do Dark Spots Form?
The dark marks you see are caused by an overproduction of melanin that penetrates through layers of your skin, your skincare needs to target either: the top layer of skin, or breaking up the accumulated melanin within the skin. This can be a natural side effect of recovering from a pimple or wound, or from sun exposure, as seen below.
Ingredients in products marketed as “brightening” can either bleach the top layer of skin to lighten pigmentation, remove the top layer of skin to speed up skin turnover, or prevent the synthesis of melanin which causes dark marks (also known as hyperpigmentation). While these techniques are generally safe for skin, some might find them too harsh, and result in mild redness, dryness, and itching. So when picking a new brightening product, be sure to patch test and opt for a gentler option if your sensitive skin reacts easily.
Prescription Or Over The Counter?
Some dark spots can be caused by sun damage (did you forget your sunscreen?), while others are caused by acne scars from puberty, stress, or hormones. To help lighten deep marks, hydroquinone can be used, but that’s prescription-only. For a gentler and easier approach, look for ingredients such as Vitamin C and Alpha-hydroxy Acids, which increase cell turnover for clearer skin. Other commonly-found ingredients to look for are Niacinamide, Arbutin, and Liquorice extract, which disrupt and break up melanin synthesis.
And the most important tip of all: be patient! Most of us want immediate results, but the truth about skincare is that it’ll take anything from 4-12 weeks of constant usage to see visible (and long-term) results. At the very least, it’ll take you as long as your skin turnover cycle. But that’s not a bad thing: immediate changes to your skin are most likely temporary effects, and skincare is a long-haul game.
Adapted from the print edition.