Did you happen to notice that sun spots often seem to spring up like mushrooms in the summer?
Makes sense: your body needs to pump out an extra dose of melanin to darken your skin and keep you safe in the sun. Unfortunately though, as we see all too often, something goes wrong. As your tan fades away, some of the colour stubbornly stays put here and there. Hello, sun spots!
Wearing sunscreen every day is key. I can’t stress it enough. You can fight sun spots (and all kinds of dark spots and hyperpigmentation) in a myriad of different ways, but if you skip the SPF, they’ll keep coming back. Ugh.
So, that’s step 1.
Step 2 is using one or more skin-lighteners to speed up exfoliation and block the production of melanin in its tracks. Luckily, your skincare arsenal is full of weapons that can get the job done. You just have to choose which ones are right for you.
To help you out, here are the best 5 ways to fight sun spots and hyperpigmentation (plus, how to use them):
Niacinamide, a form of vitamin B3, wins the award for the most multitasking ingredient in skincare. It does literally everything: it hydrates skin, fights wrinkles, soothes irritations and rosacea, treats acne and even fades away dark spots.
Talking about dark spots, here’s how niacinamide works: it inhibits the transfer of the darker pigment to the surface of the skin. If the pigment can’t get there, it can’t form dark spots, can it?
Niacinamide is so gentle, everyone can use it. But you need high concentrations to fade away dark spots - normally around 4 or 5%. Our Niacinamide Serum has a whopping 6%, fading sun spots even faster.
Although niacinamide works better on mild to moderate hyperpigmentation, it’s such a versatile ingredient, it deserves a place into your skincare routine.
How to use: apply on clean skin once or twice a day. You can layer it over your fave antiaging or hyaluronic acid serum.
Retinol is the gold standard of antiaging… and for a good reason! This form of vitamin A fights wrinkles and dark spots on multiple levels: it boosts collagen production, destroys free radicals before they give you wrinkles and dark spots and speeds up cellular turnover (i.e. the skin’s natural exfoliating process).
It’s the speeding up of this natural exfoliating process that allows retinol to fade away dark spots. As the superficial, darkest layer of skin sheds off, the deeper, lighter one comes to the surface, giving it a smoother and more even-toned appearance.
Retinol works best for mild sun spots and hyperpigmentation but it’s such a kickass wrinkle fighter, it deserves a place into your skincare routine. Period.
Just make sure to opt for microencapsulated serums and creams, like Night Renewal Cream 2.5% All-Trans Encapsulated Retinol. This technology allows retinol to be released slowly over a period of several hours (instead of hitting the skin all at once), minimizing the risk of irritation and peeling.
How to use: apply it at night over your fave antiaging serum. If you’re new to retinol or your skin is sensitive, start using it only a couple of times a week and increase frequency gradually. Do not use if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding or trying to conceive.
3. Glycolic Acid Peels
Glycolic acid is the smallest member of the Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) family. It’s its small size that makes it so effective: it easily penetrates skin, so it does it's job better and faster.
But what is its job? Glycolic acid dissolves the “glue” that holds skin cells together so they can easily slough off. In other words, it removes an entire layer of dead skin cells, revealing the brighter, smoother and more even-toned skin underneath.
The higher the concentration, the faster you’ll see results… and the higher the chances it’ll irritate your skin. To avoid any unpleasant side effects, it’s best to start with a smaller dose and increase it overtime. We recommend the 35% version of our Professional Strength Glycolic Acid Peel to beginners. The higher 50% and 70% are for professional users only - yes, they are THAT powerful.
How to use: no more than once a week - better once every two weeks if you’re just getting started - on clean and toned skin. Leave on for one minute before rinsing off with cold water. Apply only on the discolouration. Don’t forget to wear sunscreen afterwards. The new skin you’ve just uncovered is very sensitive to sunlight!
4. Kojic Acid
Kojic acid is a by-product of bacteria. They make it during the fermentation process of rice in the manufacture of sake, the Japanese rice wine.
Like all the most powerful skin-lighteners, kojic acid works by inhibiting the activity of tyrosinase, the enzyme responsible for pumping up too much melanin.
Kojic acid is touted as a gentler alternative to hydroquinone. That’s true. It’s way less irritating but… also less effective. That’s why it’s often used together with other skin-lighteners.
In our Lemon Meringue Serum for Skin Darkening Correction, kojic acid is used with glycolic acid, licorice extract and vitamin A. In the Vitamin C Lightening Mask, instead, you’ll find it together with licorice and vitamin C.
How to use it: use the Lemon Meringue Serum once or twice a day after cleansing and before other serums. The Lightening Mask can be used once or twice a week. Wear sunscreen afterwards. If irritation occurs, reduce usage frequency.
5. Bearberry Extract
When all else fails, it’s time to bring out the bring guns. In the past, that meant hydroquinone, the harsh chemical skin-lightener. These days, it’s bearberry extract, a botanical skin-lightener derived from the leaves of the Uva Ursi plant.
Let’s get something out of the way first: bearberry extract is considered a derivative of hydroquinone but it is NOT hydroquinone and does NOT break down into hydroquinone in the skin. It just gives you all the same benefits without the side effects.
Here’s how: like hydroquinone, it works by inhibiting the activity of tyrosinase, the enzyme involved in melanin production. In other words, bearberry extract stops the colour from being produced so it eventually wears off. But it’s much gentler than hydroquinone and well tolerated by most skin types.
The icing on the cake? Bearberry extract has powerful antioxidant properties that fight wrinkles too. Talk about catching two birds with one stone!
How to use: our Pure Bearberry Extract is a full strength concentrate that needs to be diluted to 25% or less for best results. If you use a concentration that’s too high, you may cause uneven lightening. And using more does not make it work any faster. To dilute, pour the extract into at least 4 ounces of your favourite cream, lotion, serum or toner and mix well. In alternative, you can mix a dose at a time by adding a few drops of the extract to your chosen cream or lotion. Apply twice a day, morning and night.
Take your pick!