Hyperpigmentation is the darkening of an area of skin due to an increase in melanin which can be caused by sun exposure, inflammation, and acne, to name a few. It is an issue that plagues a large majority of people and can be a source of frustration, annoyance, embarrassment and low self-esteem. Dark spots/scarring can be tedious to lighten and will take time, but it isn't impossible. Your skin is the largest organ of the body and has amazing healing properties! Today we'll concentrate on hyperpigmentation of the face due to sun exposure and acne. There are many ways to lighten these areas.
Exfoliation is one of the most effective because it sloughs off dead skin cells and helps speed up your skins turnover rate. The average cell turnover rate is every 28 days, however as you get older, it can become much longer. Exfoliation will help speed up the process, therefore bringing new skin to the surface faster. As new skin emerges, your scars and dark spots will lighten. Generally, you should exfoliate twice a week with a gentle exfoliant.
*If you have sensitive skin, you may want to exfoliate once a week.
*If you have acneic skin - you want to be very careful because exfoliating during a breakout can spread bacteria.
Using a very coarse, rough exfoliate could do more harm than good so you want to look for one with finer particles, like sugar, baking soda or even salt. You can make your own facial scrub or choose from many different kinds at any drugstore, Walmart, Target, as well as some dollar stores.
After cleansing, gently massage the scrub all over your face for a few minutes then rinse off with water. The goal afterwards is soft, smooth skin - not redness. If your skin is red and irritated after, you may have rubbed too hard/for too long. Although it may seem like you will get better results from a coarser exfoliant and more pressure, it will do more damage to your skin; A gentle exfoliant will work much better and provide more benefits in the long run.
Alpha hydroxy and beta hydroxy acids are very beneficial in reversing the effects of photo-aging and significantly improving wrinkles, skin hydration, elasticity and tone.
AHA's (examples: glycolic and lactic acids) act on both the dermal and epidermal levels of your skin. Because of this, they are great for sloughing off dead skin cells, improving your cell turnover rate and lightening spots, among many other benefits.
BHA's (salicylic acid) have been found to be more gentle on the skin than AHA's and penetrate into the skin through the sebaceous follicles. This makes BHA's wonderful for anyone with oily skin and open comedones (blackheads).
*Hydroquinone is the most effective ingredient to reduce skin pigmentation, however several countries have banned it, and the FDA proposed a ban on most hydroquinone products. It can cause a skin condition called Ochronosis which causes blue-black skin discoloration, grey-brown spots, as well as yellow bumps. It can also cause photosensitivity, has been found to be toxic in large amounts, and has carcinogenic properties..... Avoid this product!!
Kojic Acid is an acid that lightens skin pigment and is used in many skin lightening lotions/creams. This is a better option than hydroquinone, but it is less effective. The reason this is a better choice is it is much safer for use. This would be a long term choice, as it does not work as effectively as other products.
Aloe Vera is also a good way to heal hyperpigmentation. It is anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and all natural. Aloe Vera encourages regeneration of new skin cells. New skin cells = beautiful new skin!
Lemon has anti-bacterial properties and contains a bleaching agent that can be effective in treating mild cases of hyperpigmentation.
There has been cases showing potatoes as effective because they also contain a bleaching agent.
A few more natural options are Vitamin C, licorice root, bearberry and green tea extract.
Other options are laser therapy, chemical peels and microdermabrasion. I would suggest these last, as they are done in sessions and can be extremely pricey.
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