Whether you call them dark spots, hyperpigmentation, age spots, or just plain annoying, those brown spots on skin can be a real problem for anyone trying to attain a clear complexion or trying to reduce the signs of aging. In this article, we’ll talk about what causes dark spots, how to prevent them, and offer tips about how to visibly reduce them!
IN A NUTSHELL
Main Takeaways: The major causes of dark spots are sun exposure, hormones, scarring and stress, but a good skin care routine can help minimize their appearance.
Good to Know: Wearing sunscreen daily can help to prevent dark spots from occurring in the first place.
What Are Dark Spots?
Brown spots on skin are basically what happens to the skin when it produces an excess of melanin, the pigment that gives skin color. As we get older, and our skin is exposed more and more to factors that cause an excess of melanin, the more likely we are to see these little age spots appear, especially on our hands and face. Luckily, there are a few ways to prevent and help visibly reduce these age spots that just seem to pop up out of nowhere!
What Causes Dark Spots?
A number of factors cause dark spots, some of which are avoidable. Here’s a short list of factors that cause dark spots and some suggestions about how to prevent them from forming in the first place!
1. Sun exposure
Dark spots are often referred to as “sunspots” for a reason. Sun isn’t just a cause of hyperpigmentation, it’s the number one cause! When skin is exposed to the sun, it produces excess melanin as a protective response. That extra melanin is what causes dark spots. Although some of those dark spots just essentially become freckles and go away, some won’t. Some may even develop into skin cancers. That’s why it’s so crucial to monitor your sun exposure as we’ll discuss below.
Although absolutely anyone with any skin tone can get dark spots from the sun, lighter skins are particularly vulnerable to developing dark spots from sun exposure.
One easy way to keep dark spots at bay is to be sure to protect your skin by wearing sunscreen any time you go outside (and of course, try to stay out of the sun in general, especially when it’s really strong). If you can, wear UV protective clothing and whatever you do, stay away from tanning beds!
Hormones can really make the skin do some crazy things, one of which is to create extra melanin. Just as the sun produces extra melanin that causes dark spots, so do hormones, especially for women. This is especially true of pregnant women whose hormones can often be out of whack. If you take birth control pills, you may also find that you experience more dark spots than usual--surprise, surprise, you’ve got hormones to thank for that. Usually, when your hormones calm down, so does your skin, so don’t lose hope if your skin is acting up
3. Scarring or other trauma to the skin
If you’ve ever had a wound or even a bad breakout, you might have noticed a dark spot appear even after it’s gone. That’s because the trauma the skin experienced--whether from a serious injury or a simple breakout--triggered an increase in melanin. This is essentially the way the body responds to inflammation.
If you do get a wound or a breakout, try not to fuss with it. They say the only way to heal a wound is to stop touching it. Not only is this great advice for life, it’s great advice for your skin, as picking at breakouts can cause permanent dark spots.
It seems odd that stress can cause age spots but in fact, it can! Stress can really make hormones fluctuate which in turn, causes dark spots. Lower your stress levels, and you’ll be less likely to develop age spots.
How to Reduce the Appearance of Dark Spots
Thankfully, there are a few ways to visibly reduce the appearance of dark spots!
- Cleanse your skin. As you’ve probably heard us say before, skin products always work more effectively on clean skin. Putting sunscreen, for example, on dirty skin (or just skin with a lot of make-up on it) makes it much less effective. A cleanser like our So Clean! natural facial cleanser will remove dirt (and even make-up!), without drying it out.
- Control your oils with a toner. Keep your skin calm and your pores unclogged with an oil-controlling toner. Spray a few spritzes of our Rose and Shine natural rose water toner after cleansing or even as you feel you need it throughout the day.
- Use vitamin C. Vitamin C is known as one of the best ways to brighten your skin and even out skin tone. Our Nectar of the C vitamin C serum, which is made with a 15% vitamin C concentration, has powerful antioxidant activity and will help reduce the appearance of dark spots. Our Crème de la Cream natural moisturizer also contains vitamin C, and will help to even and brighten skin tone, so be sure to incorporate it as part of your skin care routine.
- Exfoliate. Exfoliation is key for helping even out skin tone. Our Prince Charcoal natural detox mask draws out impurities and gently exfoliates the skin. It also helps balance your oils to help decongest pores, renewing the look of beautiful skin.
- IPLs - Short for Intense Pulsed Light, IPLs are usually performed in a medical spa and involve hitting the skin with short laser bursts. They’re not cheap and they’re slightly painful, but if you have really severe age spots, this can help zap them away. Keep in mind, however, the healing process takes about two weeks so don’t schedule anything important right after your treatment.
- See your dermatologist. If you have really severe dark spots, you might want to see a dermatologist just to make sure none of them are cancerous. This is something you should probably be doing annually whether you have dark spots or not!
We hope this has shed a little light on why dark spots show up on your skin from time to time (and if we’ve inspired you to stay out of the sun, all the better!). With some preventive care and extra attention to your skin, you can keep age spots from becoming a problem!