Spots. Love em? That’s totally cool! Your freckles are freaking adorable, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Hate em? That’s understandable, too – freckles aside, nobody likes the errant dark spots that show up like an uninvited guest to the party and then overstay their welcome by bringing more guests and then bogarding the entire party - (we’re talking about your skin. Your skin is the party.) - in the form of splotchy, dark patches on your face.
Regardless of where you fall on the spot scale or how you feel about it, there’s no denying that pretty much everyone in the worl deals with them at some point. There’s no escaping them, especially if you’re Asian (or African, Latina, or from the Mediterranean.)
For those of you who live in a magical world of caramel skin and terrific genes and don’t know what I’m talking about, hyperpigmentation is the darkening of areas of skin due to the overproduction of the skin’s melanin pigment, which can be caused by anything from an insect bite to hormones going out of whack.
It ususally shows up as freckles, which can be rather adorable, or as an errant dark spot or cluster of spots which grows into a dark patch, which is slightly less adorable.
Pigmentation is usually harmless healthwise but can be detrimental to your vanity, especially considering that the#nomakeupselfie thing is having its day in the sun.
Wondering what’s causing them? Apart from environmental factors like the sun, which is responsible for most cases of hyperpigmentation, heredity and hormonal changes, a review of your medications might help you discover some of the things which trigger your spots.
Oral contraceptives, topical estrogen creams, some diuretics and antibiotics can make hyperpigmentation worse, so it’d do you good to make note of these silent assailants.
Living in a hot country or taking oral contraceptives doesn’t mean pigmentation has to be an inevitable part of life, however – the ingredient hydroquinone has long been considered by dermatologists as the gold standard of treatment for decades now.
It’s a great quick-fix, but if you have sensitive skin, be warned; this bad boy can cause serious irritations, allergic reactions and can even cause permanent, unnatural lightening of the specific region you’re trying to treat.
So while pigmentation can be a bit of a pain, if you’d really like to get rid of it, you’ll need a long term plan; a therapy that will attack dark spots from multiple angles.
Enter ‘combination treatments’ – new treatments on the market which blend plant-based ingredients and synthetic ones to work effectively together.
Here are the best ones – but first, this is worth reiterating a hundred times over – to get the most out of your spot-reducing products, use sun protection all year long regardless of the forecast says, and preferably a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or above. Avene Very High Protection Cream SPF 50+ is best for super sensitive skin or skin that is exposed to intense light, offers broad spectrum coverage and protects the skin from free radicals and irritation.
Now that we’ve got that covered, look for these new age ingredients in your products, and remember to stick to them assiduously for a good month or so before you can expect results.
1/4 The Acids
Glycolic Acid: This sugarcane-derived acid chemically exfoliates the outer layers of dead skin cells to bring fresh skin to the surface.
Try: Bioderma White Objective Serum, which is a night serum especially formulated to eliminate heavy brown spots, is also enriched with Vitamin C to expel melanin slowly and steadily.
A hit with beauty buffs, Mario Badescu Glycolic Acid Toner is gentle on sensitive skin and reduces old acne scars, illuminating the skin.
Phytic Acid: Busting merging pigments that form brown spots in the first place, this acid fights hyperpigmentation by hindering the process.
Try: Auriga Melaclear Serum is a strong depigmentation serum that’s popular worldwide, and works great even on issues with acne. The cream complements the serum to ideal for even acne issues. It’s complemented by a cream if you’d like to .
Lactic Acid- As the name suggests, this acid is dairy-based and thus gentle on sensitive skin, slowly working its way towards spot-free skin.
Try: Dermalogica Tri-Active Cleanse is infused with vitamins (hello, Niacinamide) and botanics to give life to new cells and fresh skin, and keep it moisturised after every wash.
Kojic Acid: As mentioned before, this one is a penetration enhancer that also suppresses tyrosinase activity to a great extent.
Try: Jurlique Purely Bright has all the benefits of a, without the side effects. Apply a small amount evenly on the targeted area a few times a day and then put on your sunscreen.
2/4 The Extracts
Myrtle Extract: A botanical extract, it has a good dose of anti-radical polyphenols which help in cell renewal and reducing melanin production to a great degree.
Try: As most of the products of the brand, Avene Sensitive White Whitening Serum is infused with its Thermal Spring Water that is great for anti-inflammation, nipping pigmentation right at the bud.
Ginger Root Extract: It’s natural, it’s soothing, it’s an antioxidant, what’s not to love?
Try: First Aid Beauty Anti-Redness Serum is packed with caffeine and can be applied to decrease facial redness, whatever be the source. The ginger acts as a powerful anti-inflammatory.
3/4 The Vitamins
Vitamin E: A trusted antioxidant, it protects the skin from the harsh sunrays as well as soothes while at it.
Try: Aimed at expelling pigmentation and darkening of the skin, Fabindia Vitamin E Cream De-Pigmentation reduces blemishes and moisturises at the same time. What’s best is that it is gentle and free of hydroquinone.
Vitamin C- This antioxidant combats UV rays, pollution and heat, and promotes collagen production (elasticity), hence diminishing scars.
Try: Pigmentation + Vitamin C = Dermalogica Extreme C, your best bet to defend your skin against discolouration and help brighten it.
4/4 The Exfoliators
Retinol: A derivative of Vitamin A, retinol sheds old skin and uncovers new skin cells. Much acclaimed for its anti-aging properties as well, it is also an effective lightening agent.
Try: Rich in retinol, glycolic and salicylic acid, as well as liquorice extract, Murad Exfoliating Blemish Treatment Gel after toning over your face and neck to see reduced blemish breakouts.
Another organic exfoliator to try is the L’Occitane Immortelle Brightening Instant Exfoliatorthat is made of daisy flower extracts to reduce melanin synthesis and make your skin luminous and even-toned.