And you thought acne was as bad as it gets? Those stubborn, dark spots and uneven brown patches on your face, décolletage and hands (also known as pigmentation) are caused by sun exposure and UVA rays that penetrate deep into skin. Dermatologist Dr. Abhiit Desai explains, “UVA light stimulates pigment cells to manufacture a pigment called Melanin. This is responsible for your tan and dark patches.” Common triggers in young women, besides sun exposure, include the contraceptive pill and pregnancy which alter hormone levels.
Besides lasers—that were the only ways to treat pigmentation for the longest time—Hydroquinone was once considered the gold-standard lightening agent. However, recent studies have shown that Hydroquinone causes skin redness, burning and dryness, even thinning over time. “A far safer bet,” says Dr. Desai, “are natural skin lightening agents such as Kojic Acid, Licorice root extract, Vitamin C, Niacinamide, Soy and Retinoid that fade dark spots.” Prefer going the herbal route? Look for products with Turmeric, Lactic Acid and Papaya.
Once you’ve found your fix, proceed with caution. “Always do a patch test because most lightening agents could irritate skin, causing redness, flaking or itching.” Citric, lactic and glycolic acid-based products can cause excessive peeling in darker skin tones, leading to hyper-pigmentation. “You might be tempted to use prescription strength bleaching creams containing steroids but these can be toxic to skin, so don’t,” warns Dr Desai.
Here are some of the best dark spot removers creams that work.
Boost the action of your chosen formula by applying a UVA and UVB shielding sunscreen. “It’s even more important to wear SPF while use a skin lightener,” says Dr. Desai, “because the active ingredients in the formula can make your skin more vulnerable to burns.” No go kiss them dark spots goodbye!
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