One of the most common skin concerns I am asked about is discoloration so I thought I should dedicate a blog post to share more.
Discoloration on the skin can be caused from pregnancy hormones, past sun exposure, or a genetic skin disorder. The most common type of discoloration I see are dark marks called hyperpigmentation. There are three types of pigmentation: melasma, lentigines and postinflammatory hyperpigmentation. Let’s break it down…
Melasma are the dark brown patches usually located on the cheeks, forehead, chin and/or nose. Melasma is caused by sun exposure and hormonal changes. Often you can only more permanently brighten these spots when the trigger (i.e. birth control) ceases. Melasma can also be triggered by infrared heat, so if you’re prone to melasma you may want to skip hot yoga and sauna’s.
Postinflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) is when inflammation occurs in the skin and leaves a mark after it clears. This is why picking a blemish is not advised- picking can leave a mark that will last much longer than the actual acne blemish.
Lentigines look like flat pigmented spots that are darker than the surrounding skin. You can tell if a spot is a lentigo when it doesn’t fade in the winter months like a freckle would. (This also means the spot(s) will take extra effort to fade). These spots are yep, you guessed it caused by sun exposure. You may have heard the term liver spot before- that’s what these dark spots are, although they have nothing to do with the liver.
How do you treat discoloration? There are lots of effective products and treatments available to help. Exfoliation is one of the best ways to fade hyperpigmentation. You can receive professional exfoliation treatments from a skilled esthetician or dermatologist. For at home exfoliation, look for fruit enzymes, AHA’s (alpha hydroxy acids- glycolic, lactic, citric, mandelic, malic, and tartaric acid), BHA’s (beta hydroxy acids- salicylic acid) and retinol. I also recommend using a vitamin C serum every morning under your spf. Sun protection is essential to keep the brightening you’ve obtained as well as prevent future dark spots. You can also apply serums and moisturizers that contain brightening ingredients such as kojic acid, licorice, azelaic acid, superoxide dismutase (SOD) and niacinamide. Treatments can take up to two to three months to show results so be patient and remain diligent with your home care and sun protection.
As always, thank you for stopping by~
*I typically do not recommend products with the ingredient hydroquinone. If you choose to use this ingredient I suggest seeking the advice and supervision of a dermatologist. See below for more information from EWG: