How to Help Reduce Dark Spots on Your Skin

How to help reduce dark spots | ISDIN
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If you’ve ever sat down at your laptop and typed ‘What are these dark spots on my skin?’ or ‘How do I even out my skin tone on my face?’ into the search bar – you’re not alone. 

Every year, Google searches for ‘how to even skin tone on face’ rise without fail between July and August, all over the world. But why the connection with the summer months? Dark spots are usually connected with sun exposure, i.e. sun spots – even though that’s not their only cause

So, let’s take a look at what causes this type of hyperpigmentation and how to help reduce the appearance of dark spots on your face.

What do dark spots look like? 

Dark spots commonly vary in size – from simple sun spots to large patches of discoloration – and color – ranging in shades of light brown to black. While they usually appear in sun-exposed areas like the face, neck, backs of the hands, and forearms, dark spots can actually develop on any part of the skin.

What causes dark spots on skin?

When the pigment-producing skin cells, melanocytes, start to overproduce melanin, this can lead to the formation of uneven pigmentation or hyperpigmented areas in the skin. But what triggers this process?  When you spend time in the sun unprotected, your skin produces more melanin to try to protect itself from the damaging rays – resulting in a toasty tan or sensitive sunburn. 

So, it makes sense that you might notice more dark spots during summer or early fall if you’ve been soaking up the rays at the beach or relaxing by the pool. While typically harmless, they aren’t always welcome aesthetically. And of course, make sure to regularly visit your dermatologist and inform them of any changes in your skin, including size, color, or quantity of dark spots.

But is the sun the only cause? Spoiler: there’s more to it than that. Age, genetics, hormones (such as in pregnancy), free radical damage from pollution or tobacco, or different types of medication can also cause uneven pigmentation. 

How to reduce dark spots on your face

Like many skin concerns, dark spots typically increase with age. So it’s never too early to start a skincare routine for dark spots! Let’s take a look at key ingredients that your morning and evening routine should have.

How to even skin tone: key ingredients

Targeted products can help to correct the visible signs of premature skin aging, including the formation of dark spots and uneven pigmentation. So, which are the topical superstar ingredients to include in your skin care routine for hyperpigmentation?

Vitamin C

A life-long skincare bestie, vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant with the ability to neutralize free radicals – from both pollution and UV rays. What’s most interesting about vitamin C, though, in the treatment of dark spots, is that it can help even skin tone and brighten the skin.

Try out a dark spot correcting serum rich in Vitamin C, specifically designed to unify your skin tone and improve the appearance of dark spots and unify skin tone. To boost the effectiveness of Vitamin C, opt for products that combine it with phytic acid. This powerful combination protects your skin from free radical damage while achieving that desired brightening result. Make sure that it’s suitable for your skin type and that you can use it throughout the year.

Dark spot correcting serum Melaclear | ISDIN

Niacinamide + Tranexamic acid

Easier read than said, right? These ingredients help to restore and even skin tone. Niacinamide has many remarkable properties, especially when it comes to powerfully fighting discoloration at the surface of the skin. When combined with tranexamic acid, a synthetic amino acid derived from lysine which specifically targets sun spots, the pigment-correcting effect is more powerful.

You can start off with a powerful dark spot correcting serum that blends different exfoliating acids to help renew skin and reduce discoloration. You should also make sure the pigment-correcting serum contains ingredients that not only help reduce hyperpigmentation but also keep your  skin hydrated and smooth.

Pigment correcting serum Melaclear Advanced | ISDIN

Glycolic acid

Another acid that is, without a doubt, one of the best exfoliating ingredients. A basic in any routine, glycolic acid helps to improve your complexion while making it easier for other products to penetrate the skin. 

As if that wasn’t enough, it also helps to even out skin tone and stimulate cell renewal, working to help improve the negative effects of the sun like fine lines and wrinkles (AKA photoaging). So, if your beauty goal is to achieve a more uniform skin tone, it’s time to add glycolic acid into your routine and you can do so in the form of exfoliating products that help renew and illuminate your complexion.

We couldn’t end this section without a reminder: Please, visit your dermatologist to discuss the type of pigmentation disorder you’re experiencing. Depending on the type, they may suggest in-clinic treatments, which can include chemical peels, laser treatments, or microdermabrasion. The most suitable treatment will vary depending on the appearance of dark spots, and your skin type.

Glycolic acid gel for dark spots | ISDIN

How to decrease the appearance of dark spots

Apart from using targeted products to combat discoloration, a high SPF sunscreen is a key player in helping reduce the appearance of dark spots on the skin. Even if your dark spots are connected to genetic or hormonal causes or free-radical pollution damage, they can get darker when exposed to UV radiation. 

Sunscreen should be applied as part of your morning skincare routine, as the last step before makeup (if you wear it), 15 minutes before sun exposure. Remember to re-apply for every two hours of exposure, and more frequently if you’re exercising outdoors or enjoying a day at the beach. 

How to decrease the appearance of dark spots | ISDIN

Time to get even

Make sure to include skin-tone-evening products in your daily routines to improve the appearance of existing dark spots and reduce the chances of developing more. Using super-ingredients in both your morning and evening routine is a one-two punch for knocking out discoloration.

Through a combo of skincare products and sun protection habits to even out your complexion, we bet you’ll find your Google search history updated with more funny cat videos or tips for keeping houseplants alive – and fewer skin concerns.

Sources and references:
Pullar, JM., Carr, AC., Vissers, MCM. The Roles of Vitamin C in Skin Health. In Nutrients (2017) Aug; 9(8): 866.

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Article written and reviewed by:

Editorial Team

Our namesake embodies the spirit of embracing life and all its wonder. As wellness journalists, we explore topics that invigorate the senses and keep curiosity alive. We believe that glowing skin is the result of a healthy body and mind. Weaving beauty with science, we aim to inspire you to live young at every age.

Medical Communication Manager

In addition to ten years as a primary care doctor, Aurora has over 23 years of experience developing and communicating healthcare products, most recently in dermo-cosmetics. She has co-authored many publications in dermatological journals and spoken at international health & beauty conferences. Ref: Colegio de Medicos de Madrid numero 282840102

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