Summer days are now only a distant memory, but all that time spent out the sun may have left unwanted souvenirs on your skin that are starting to show up only now. Dark spots, freckles and discolorations are the price you have to pay for your fun out in the sun.
Luckily though, you don’t have to be stuck with them forever.
Personally, I am a huge fan of freckles, I think they're youthful and fun! But sun spots, age spots .... not so much. If you tackle them early, you can make dark spots fade away into nothingness and get your clear and flawless complexion back (without sacrificing your precious time in the sun!) Here's how:
Dark spots are like a leak in the house. Call the plumber as soon as you see a few drops of water coming out of the sink, and you'll get away with paying a small bill. Wait until the situation gets worse and you could end up having to replace the entire sink too.
The more you wait, the worse those dark spots become and the harder it is to get rid of them completely. So, don't waste any time. As soon as you notice the tiniest discolored mark on your skin, grab your skin lightening products and dive in headfirst.
Build Your OTC Arsenal
These days, there's no shortage of dark spot correctors. If anything, you'll have a hard time figuring out which one to try first!
Why it works: Loved by dermatologists (they think it's the gold standard for fighting dark spots), hydroquinone inhibits the activity of tyrosinase, the enzyme that controls the production of melanin, and kills melanocytes, the cells that carry melanin.
How to use it: In 4 months-cycle. Use hydroquinone for 4 months and then switch to another lightening agent for 4 more months before going back to hydroquinone. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Side effects: Although it is rare, hydroquinone can cause ochronosis, a bluish discoloration of the skin, in some people, especially people with darker skin tones. If you have sensitive skin, you may also experience irritation.
Who should use it: Anyone who wants to get rid of dark spots quickly and is not afraid to bring in the big guns straight away.
Who should avoid it: Darker skin tones and pregnant and nursing women.
Why it works: The most common alternative to hydroquinone, kojic acid inhibits tyrosinase too.
How to use it: Twice a day, on the affected area.
Side effects: Although kojic acid is way gentler than hydroquinone, it could still irritate super sensitive skin.
Who should use it: Anyone looking for an effective alternative to hydroquinone.
Who should avoid it: Anyone with super sensitive skin.
Where to find it: Vitamin C Lightening Mask. Kojic acid here gets a helping hand from pure L-ascorbic acid and licorice, all powerful weapons against dark spots.
Why it works: It lightens the pigments in the dark spot/freckle and brightens the complexion.
How to use it: Once or twice a week.
Side effects: You guessed it, if your skin's particularly sensitive, it may have a problem with vitamin C, too.
Who should use it: Anyone who wants to tackle dark spots and wrinkles at the same time (vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that busts wrinkles, too!).
Who shouldn't use it: Anyone with super sensitive skin should proceed with caution.
Where to find it: Vitamin C Lightening Mask With Licorice & Kojic Acid. It's the perfect trio for fading slight discolorations.
Why it works: it's loaded with arbutin, which inhibits the production of melanin.
How to use it: Dilute it with your favorite lotion, serum, or cream and mix well. You can mix a few drops of each every time you use it, or pour an entire bottle of pure bearberry extract into your skicare product (must be at least 4 ounces).
Side effects: Using it undiluted could cause uneven lightening in darker skin tones. That's why you have to dilute it. It's the only way to get all its benefits without any unwanted side effects.
Who should use it: Anyone looking for a more natural alternative to target dark spots and wrinkles (yep, this one is a powerful antioxidant, too).
Who should avoid it: Anyone can give it a go.
Where to find it: Pure Bearberry Extract (Arbutin) For Skin Lightening. It's a powerful elixir that can reduce dark spots and prevent wrinkles.
Do A Chemical Peel
Tried all the OTC remedies to no avail? Some dark spots are stubborn like that. If yours just doesn’t want to budge, it's time to take your skin-lightening game to the next level: chemical peels.
Why they work: These peels can remove the entire, most superficial layer of the skin (the one most damaged and where dark spots are clearly visible), and replace it with a new layer made up of healthier, more even-toned cells. The most effective at treating dark spots? Glycolic acid. It's a wonderful exfoliator that also hydrates skin and boosts the collagen production.
How to use them: Very carefully. Do not use more than once a week. If you can, do them only under medical supervision.
Side effects: Exfoliation does wonder for the skin: it can get rid of dark spots, wrinkles, and flaky patches. But if you overdo it, you'll expose the raw and red skin underneath. You know, the just born skin that wasn't supposed to come to the surface just yet. That'll hurt like hell and take ages to heal.
Who should use them: Anyone with stubborn dark spots that won't go away in any other way.
Who shouldn't use them: Anyone with sensitive skin and pregnant women.
Where to find them: We make glycolic acid peels in several strengths: 35%, 50% and 70%. We highly recommend you start with the smaller dose first and build your way up only if absolutely necessary (better if under medical supervision, too).
Don't Skip The Sunscreen
Nothing we've talked about so far will help if you insist on not wearing sunscreen every day. Think about it. It's the sun that causes dark spots. You can treat them all you want, but if you keep exposing your skin to its ray, new dark spots will keep popping up on your face all the time. The moment one disappears, you have to start the treatment all over again with a new one.
Besides, all the skin lighteners out there have the annoying tendency to make skin more prone to sun damage (ironic, isn't it?). You can't stop going out or enjoy some fun time outside, but you can slather on sunscreen before heading out the door.
Do it. Every single day. It's the only way to win the war, not just the battle. If you don't already have a favorite brand, you can try this silky Spf 35 sunblock we have here. Non-greasy, lightly tinted to smooth imprefections, and can be worn alone or under make-up.
Here's to a clear and flawless complexion!