Having a clear, even skin tone is magnificent! However, if you have dark spots and uneven skintone, can it be treated, and if so how?
Posh Beauty Blog has sourced two of the best skincare experts in the business, Mercy Medical Center’s Janet Lin, MD, FAAD and Dr. Ben Johnson, founder and formulator of Osmosis Pur Medical Skincare, to learn more about hyperpigmentation. Keep reading to learn how you may be able to prevent and treat dark spots.
What is hyperpigmentation?
Dr. Janet Lin: It describes deposition of melanin pigment due to the stimulation of melanogenesis, the process by which pigment is produced. These areas of skin will have darker pigmentation in contrast to the surrounding skin. It typically occurs when the skin pigment producing cells (melanocytes) are making more pigment (melanin) such as in melasma or in some type of inflammatory process in the skin such as acne, trauma, or bug bites that causes the existing pigment to drop down to a deeper level in the skin making it look darker.
What is the difference between hyperpigmentation and "sunspots"?
Dr. Janet Lin: Hyperpigmentation is a common response of skin to inflammation, UV light, hormones etc as outlined above while "sunspot" is a common lay term to describe different types of age and chronic sun related lesions or growths. Sunspots usually mean lentigo or seborrheic keratosis.
How Can We Prevent Hyper-Pigmentation?
Dr. Ben Johnson: Hyperpigmentation that comes from internal sources (liver spots and melasma) can be prevented by avoiding birth control pills, liver damaging medicines and pregnancy after 30. All of these events can lead to chronic liver damage which shows up on the skin as inflammation covered by hyperpigmentation. Age spots can be prevented by avoiding chemical peels since repeated acid peels has been shown to increase your chances of getting age spots. Avoiding sunburns is also going to reduce age spot incidences. The number of sunburns in a lifetime or tanning bed exposure usually determine how quickly age spots show up.
What is the best way to treat hyperpigmentation and dark spots?
Dr. Janet Lin: Sunscreen is foundational to treatment (I tell my patients that if they are trying to lighten an area but not using sunscreen to prevent further darkening, they are fighting a losing battle). I always stress the importance of a high SPF sunscreen for the morning and to reapply every 2 hrs if they are spending time outdoors. For the evening, it is helpful to apply different things to help even out the skin pigment. The most common ingredients used are retinols, hydroquinone, kojic acid, azelaic acid, licorice root extract (glabridin). These things can be found in over the counter and prescription products. Regardless of what is used, it takes several weeks to months to see a visible difference. So it's important to be consistent with application and patient.
Beyond topical creams, depending on the skin type and what the hyperpigmentation is due to, chemical peels and lasers can be useful. It's very important though to understand that time in itself is good medicine as a lot of things will even out or fade on their own if given enough time.
Dr. Ben Johnson: The best way to treat age spots is by healing the chronic wound below them. While most people think that using lighteners like hydroquinone or others are "treating" the age spot, they are actually making it worse. The reason is that these lightening treatments are temporary and fade the protective umbrella of medicine that means the wound underneath will be exposed to mire sun that the skin hoped for. We simply have to heal the wounded skin and the spot will disappear on its own. We think Restore topical and our patented Catalyst are the best ways to heal the underlying wound causing age spots. Treating liver spots and melasma requires healing the liver source that creates them. This is only been shown to be possible using Osmosis Restore internal. Once it is treated, it likely will never return again.
After trying a slew of skincare products for dark spots, here are a few that I have found help reduce hyperpigmentation. Leave a comment below and let us know what has worked for you!