As Skin Health Experts, we treat clients with hyperpigmentation and dark spot concerns in our clinics every day. If you’ve been looking for a solution to hyperpigmentation, sun spots, dark spots, or other skin pigmentation issues, we’re here to help. In this blog, we share some of the main causes and top solutions. If you've noticed more dark spots appearing on your skin lately and wonder what’s causing them, keep reading as we discuss what causes hyperpigmentation in the first place and how to brighten dark spots on the face.
The Main Causes of Dark Spots
Dark, fair, oily, or dry - no matter what skin type you have, dark spots can happen. If you're wondering what causes these spots to darken over time, it can all be traced back to one thing - melanin. Everyone's skin contains an amount of melanin - a pigment produced by your skin cells. Melanin acts as a form of protection for skin and hyperpigmentation forms when your skin has excessive amounts of it . This overload of melanin creates spots and patches that are darker in appearance than the surrounding skin, which can lead to skin discoloration and uneven skin tone. While hyperpigmentation can affect anyone, darker skin tones seem to be more susceptible to it. If hyperpigmentation has become an issue for you, here are three main reasons why it may be happening:
Cause #1: Too Much Sun Exposure
The leading cause of dark spots is sun damage. When your skin comes in contact with harmful UV rays, it releases melanin to protect itself. Melanin acts as a natural sunscreen, absorbing the energy from UV rays and redistributing it . However, too much sun exposure at once can cause an overload of melanin, resulting in dark spots. Hyperpigmentation is also a result of sun-damaged skin over the years, driven by frequent exposure to the sun while skin was left unprotected.
Solution #1: Shield Your Skin
If you're noticing new skin pigmentation, it's time to start shielding your skin from the sun. A must-have in any anti-aging skincare routine, sunscreen is essential to protecting your skin and preventing dark spots from forming. Prevent UV exposure by wearing sun hats and sunscreen like the Kate Somerville Daily Deflector™ Mineral Sunscreen. By adding daily sunscreen to your morning skin care routine (as your final step), you take preventative measures to protect your skin now and in the future.
This being said, UV rays are not the only triggers that overproduce melanin; heat can cause it, too. Do your best to avoid activities in sweltering conditions, and when you are in the sun, try to keep your skin cool to reduce dark spots from forming.
Cause #2: Hormones
Much like too much sun causes an increase in the production of melanin, hormones also play a role. Extra hormones stimulate melanin production, leaving you with dark spots on your cheeks, jawline, nose, forehead, or chin. This type of hyperpigmentation is not always permanent and usually lasts until your hormone levels return to a balance. Hormone imbalance leading to hyperpigmentation is commonly observed in pregnant women, individuals undergoing hormone therapies, and those who recently changed their birth control.
Solution #2: Maintain Balance
The best way to stop or reduce pigmentation issues brought on by hormones is to bring your hormones back into balance. If you believe hormones are the cause of your dark spots, we recommend speaking with a healthcare professional to develop a plan that best works for you and your body's unique needs. In the meantime, applying topical antioxidants like our Kate Somerville KX Active Concentrates Vitamin B3 + Vitamin C Serum can improve the appearance of discoloration and uneven skin tone. This lightweight serum is expertly formulated with Vitamin B and Vitamin C, which work together to inhibit excess melanin production, target discoloration, and unevenness, and ultimately improve radiance and luminosity for healthy-looking skin.
Cause #3: Inflammation
The third most common cause of dark spots is inflammation. Hyperpigmentation frequently forms after inflammation or injury to the skin. Acne, allergic reactions, and skin conditions like eczema can contribute to skin discoloration. When damage is caused to the skin, it tries to heal itself. As it heals, it produces melanin, and more often than not, it creates more than is needed. This excess melanin darkens the skin, meaning that even after the wound has healed, a dark spot is left behind .
Solution #3: Keep Inflammation to a Minimum
Whenever possible, avoid inflammation. However, because inflammation is a natural response in the body, don’t stress if you experience it. When it comes to your skin, post Inflammatory hyperpigmentation happens because your body is trying to heal itself. While you may not be able to prevent all wounds, you can avoid exacerbating inflammation by choosing not to pick at pimples, use harsh chemicals, or undergo intense skin treatments that might bother your skin texture and tone. Additionally, when you use acne scar products, make sure they're gentle on skin and follow up with a soothing moisturizer.
If skin conditions like acne have caused few dark spots to form on your skin, don't panic. Applying skincare products like the Kate Somerville D-Scar Diminishing Serum can help reduce the appearance of old and new scars, revealing a smoother-looking and more even complexion.
Now that you better understand the main dark spot offenders, it's time to neutralize them through a simple skincare routine suited for your skin type. If you spend a lot of time outdoors and your skin undergoes frequent sun exposure, a high SPF sunscreen is a must-have in your skincare regimen. Our Skin Health Experts recommend using sunscreen daily at the end of your skincare routine. You’ll want to use a product with a minimum of SPF 30 protection to help minimize age spots from surfacing in the future. If you’re curious to learn more about how to reduce dark spots or how to best treat acne without causing hyperpigmentation, search for skincare products that minimize irritation. Remember, everyone's skin is different, and it's important to develop a routine that suits your skin's unique needs.
Need help determining your skin’s unique needs and a regimen to support it? Our Skin Health Experts in both our Los Angeles clinic are available for virtual skin consultations and would love to support you!