How to get rid of dark spots
How to get rid of a dark spot? We all have those days when we wake up and notice new dark spots on our faces. It can be depressing to see how much they are spreading over time, but the good news is that there's no need to panic!
There are many different ways to eliminate hyperpigmentation, including strict sun protection, topical medications like Retin-A, chemical peels, manual exfoliation, glycolic acid pads, microdermabrasion, or laser treatment.
The next step in your journey towards clear skin is deciding which treatment strategy will work best for you!
What are dark spots
Dark spots are a product of UV exposure. Dark spots (aka solar lentigines) accumulate dark pigment within the skin's surface cells or blood vessels beneath the skin's surface. The purpose of this pigment is to shield your skin from ultraviolet light damage and staying powerful when free-radical production increases over time. But eventually, dark spots age and clog up your pores with excessive debris.
Causes of dark spots
Dark spots on the skin, also called ephelides or age spots, are one form of hyperpigmentation. Some people have skin problems caused by sun exposure, hormonal changes in women and menopause, or medication. Skin problems may also happen because of stressors like pregnancy or thyroid disease.
If you have dark spots without any changes to your hair or eye color, it is probably sun damage that has to lead to your dark spot(s). Vitiligo sufferers will have many different shades of white on their skin while they are developing their pigmentation. (Trusted sources 1*, 2*)
Causes of dark spots:
Extensive sun exposure
Extensive sun exposure can cause dark spots because it stimulates the production of melanin, which gives your skin its color.
The good news for you is that there are different ways to treat hyperpigmentation, including strict sun protection, topical medications like Retin-A, chemical peels (e.g., alpha-hydroxy acids), manual exfoliation, and more.
The dark spots can start showing up on your skin when you are in your 20s or 30s, and it will begin with light brown patches that eventually become darker as time passes, so be mindful of how much sun protection you need during this life stage.
Aging causes dark spots because your skin's production of melanin slows down. And when your melanin slows down, your skin is more sensitive to the sun, which means it will burn and age faster.
Dark spots may also be caused by pregnancy due to hormonal changes during this time. The changes that cause dark spots during pregnancy are the onset of melasma during the first and second trimester, followed by post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation after delivery.
In fact, some people get dark spots just from hormonal changes alone.
The post-pregnancy period can cause dark spots when hormone levels are out of balance, such as during breastfeeding and menopause.
Alpha-hydroxy acids work to remove the top layers of skin for new cells to replace them. You can also use chemical exfoliants like glycolic acid pads or microdermabrasion treatments that physically remove the top layer of skin.
Some skin conditions like acne or eczema can also cause dark patches on your face that will fade over time, but it is something you should visit a dermatologist for.
If your skin is very oily, this can cause dark spots from acne scars and other blemishes, as well as sun damage.
Uneven Skin Tone
Dark patches on the skin may also be caused by uneven toning or hyperpigmentation when your skin cells produce more melanin.
Some medications, for example, hydroquinone or tretinoin, can cause dark spots as a side effect. Other medicines such as chemotherapy drugs can also make you more susceptible to sun damage and have an increased risk of developing hyperpigmentation problems.
Retin-A (Topical Medication)
Hormonal changes also affect how your body responds to topical medication like Retin-A, so that you may need more frequent applications or a stronger dosage for this hyperpigmentation treatment option. It can take up to six months to see results with this option.
Genetic factors due to your DNA, ethnicity, skin coloration
Genetic factors such as ethnicity, DNA, or skin coloration can cause dark spots because the skin is more prone to sun damage.
UV radiation causes dark spots when it injures the skin. It often takes years for hyperpigmentation to show up on your skin, especially if you're not paying attention to how much sun protection you need and when it needs reapplication.
Pollution in the atmosphere from dust and car exhaust fumes
The pollution causes dark spots when it injures the skin. Also, dust and car exhaust fumes provoke them because they contain ultraviolet radiation.
How to get rid of dark spots
Chemical exfoliators are a great alternative for sensitive skin because they don't use physical scrubbing to scrape away dead cells.
Chemical exfoliants come in various forms: alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), azelaic acid, beta-hydro acid (BHA), glycolic acid, lactic acid, and mandelic acids being just some of the more popular ingredients found in these products.
You can buy them over the counter or stronger versions from your doctor or dermatologist. If you have concerns about sensitivities that may arise when using chemical treatments on your face like this one does not irritate.
Why are chemical exfoliants so important? Chemical products can cause irritation or inflammation if a person uses them too often.
That's why it's best only to use an over-the-counter product once every three days (or more) and consult with your dermatologist for any concerns you may have about the ingredients of that specific brand/product.
Furthermore, injectable skin lightening solutions have been determined unsafe by FDA because they contain harmful ingredients.
In addition to the aforementioned side effects, injections can lead to discoloration or spotting on areas that are not being treated, bruising at the injection site(s), temporary redness in the area where the solution is applied, and pain associated with needle puncturing.
Anyone dealing with sunspots and stubborn acne scars knows that not all products are created equal. Retin-A is an excellent solution to the problem, but it can be drying on the skin because of its retinoic acid ingredient.
Renova may also be a good option for those looking for something more gentle than AHA or Bactroban treatments. However, it will still take time before people see any results from this product. And don't forget about sunscreen! (3*)
Peels and Laser treatments
Laser treatments are a more aggressive option for lightening dark spots. They use concentrated light energy and target the pigment itself or work by removing skin layer-by-layer to eliminate darkened areas.
Faced with these risks, it's also important to know that laser treatment works fast than topical products. Some people have seen results as early as three weeks!
However, there is no guarantee this method will be safe for you. So before deciding on one, make sure your dermatologist has all the information about what type of melanin disorder you suffer from to find out which procedure would suit you best. (4*)
Serums and Hydroquinone creams
Serums and Hydroquinone creams are an effective treatment for skin lightening. They work by preventing the production of melanin.
In the US, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) limits hydroquinone's concentration to 2% in over-the-counter products and up to 12% for prescription drugs.
It is one of only two ingredients classified as a "bleaching agent," with risks increasing at higher doses because it can cause skin irritation or even cancer if used excessively.
For this reason, many countries have banned its use altogether, such as South Africa, which has outlawed all forms of hydroquinone that do not come from natural sources like plants. At the same time, Canada considers any form expected to be toxic or harmful illegal without exception!
The FDA regulates how much harsh chemical ingredient—hydroquinones can go into cosmetic creams, so they are safe and effective.
However, dermatologists usually prescribe prescription-strength creams that contain a higher concentration—up to 12%—of hydroquinone for the treatment of severe hyperpigmentation or age spots. (5*)
You can find products that claim skin lightening and "correcting" abilities via natural ingredients. For example, common compounds in these products include:
- Azelaic acid (a type of acne treatment)
- Vitamin C (which is a well-known antioxidant)
- Beta carotene
- Pomegranate extract.
- Licorice extract, to list just a few examples.
Even though the chemicals may be plant-based or naturally derived from plants - there are still some risks with them!
How to get rid of dark spots naturally
There are two approaches to lightening dark spots: The first is through direct topical application. The second, more complex approach is the regeneration of the skin from within.
Both approaches work best when they are applied consistently and with some degree of diligence.
- Apply a paste of half water and half gram flour to the spot, leave it for 20 minutes, then remove with a wet cloth
- Make a paste out of one or two tsp turmeric powder mixed in heated milk
- Steep tea leaves in an empty boiling pot of water for 7-8 minutes and squeezes them into a fine mesh filter, then place that over the dark spots
- Mix tablespoon yogurt, two tbsp honey, one tbsp cinnamon together to create a natural mask
- Lotion ginger + turmeric + lemon + olive oil on the skin once or twice weekly and massage the whole night gently (without showering) (6*)
Water the parsley, then put it into boiling water for a minute or two. Please keep this in an airtight container to keep it fresh after you make it. Apply by putting on a clean cotton pad and then let sit for about 20 minutes to 45 minutes.
Pinch salt and rub the skin until irritated; leave as is or use with cream if desired. Add this mixture every day for up to four weeks to get rid of dark spots.
This will help rid everything that builds up under the surface because blood carries nutrients into these areas. They can cause discoloration if left untreated. (7*)
Use sandalwood oil mixed in Vaseline as a spot cream or frozen as ice cubes in an acrylic tube filled with Vaseline.
It's called spot prevention, not spot removal. You can use it only on spots that you have already and wait for them to go away before applying again - or apply it nightly to prevent new spots from forming at all.
Recipe: Mix the sandalwood oil with Vaseline, then refrigerate in ice cube trays made out of Vaseline containers.
This recipe lasts about 3 months if stored in the fridge. Once created, store unused portions into an airtight container for daily home use. Apply ample amount on dark spots and lightly tap with fingers until absorbed. Repeat application nightly depending upon spot severity.
Benefits: This spot prevention recipe is a natural alternative to expensive treatments and works wonders on small dark spots! (8*)
Apply freshly squeezed lemon juice to the spot and then seal with a moisturizer.
The acid in lemon is what will make dark spots turn lighter over time. The acid helps to exfoliate surface cells, which in turn will lighten skin tone. It also contains Vitamin C that will help even more with fading of dark spots.
Suppose you want to make this process as effective as possible. In that case, you have to put a layer of moisture on top of the lemon mixture for protection from dryness since the skin can easily become dehydrated after applying an acidic substance such as lemon juice.
Doing so may lead to other complications or issues if not taken care of together. These are ways to promote optimal hydration by incorporating 20 minutes of deep breathing into your daily routine. (9*)
Please get rid of dark spots with hydrogen peroxide by diluting 20 volumes of hydrogen peroxide and rubbing the spot with it for five minutes three times a day.
The chemical composition of skin is determined by four types of protein: collagen, elastin, keratin, and reticulum fibers that weave together.
These proteins constitute human skin from 20%~40%. In this case, cellulose will be an effective substitute for these proteins because it has a similar chemical structure and can protect your body well. (10*)
Papaya has powerful enzymes that help to increase skin collagen production. Combined with vitamin C, papaya can be an excellent treatment and prevention for dark spots, acne scars, and other types of skin damage.
Exposing the spots to sunlight helps get rid of them more quickly because it stimulates the release of nitric oxide (which helps your body create collagen).
But make sure you don't over-expose your face towards too much sun! Other treatments like topical ointments or azelaic acid cream will stimulate cell turnover to replace old cells with new ones.
Consider using a gentle exfoliator such as sea salt or honey to help remove dead surface cells from the outer layer of your skin. (11*)
If dark spots are caused by age or uneven skin tone, buttermilk can help. You should use it before bed and reapply to the areas where you see dark spots for at least 4 weeks to notice a clearing of those spots. You can also create buttermilk Paste:
- Mix 1 Tablespoon of fresh-squeezed lemon juice.
- Apply to dark spots.
- Leave for 30 minutes.
- Rinse with cool water.
- For sensitive skin, use no more than twice a week and make sure it's always completely dry before going out in the sun. (12*)
If you're suffering from blackheads on your face, horseradish can help. Add 1/4 of a teaspoon of horseradish to 3 tablespoons of honey and blend the two until they are one uniform color. Apply to the affected area for 30 minutes, then rinse off with warm water.
If you only have dark spots on your body like elbows or knees, applying lemon juice to them every day will lighten those areas too! (13*)
If you want to get rid of those dark spots, apply aloe vera on the affected area at least 3 times a day. You can find the gel from fresh leaves in skincare products (soaps, lotions, etc.)
Aloe vera has been extensively studied for its beneficial and moisturizing effects on the skin. It is often found in numerous skincare products due to its potent properties and abilities.
Aloe Vera's high antioxidant saponins provide it with potent antimicrobial qualities, which can help prevent bacteria buildup while providing collagen support! (14*)
Use castor oil, apply it on the dark spot, and leave it overnight before you go to bed.
You can also rub castor oil on the spot then paint it over with red, white, or blue food coloring (paint is a saccharide). Cover them up with a bandaid or plastic wrap at night. Rinse off in the morning. Continue this for 1-3 weeks if desired. (15*)
Apple Cider Vinegar
Pure, natural apple cider vinegar is great for blemishes and skin irregularities. It can be used to combat all sorts of skin issues, such as:
- Acne, brighten scars and stretch marks (including the dreaded reverse "anchor" lines)
- Dark spots.
- Age spots.
- Help reduce dry patches on knees or elbows.
- Encourage healing of small wounds and scrapes around the house.
- Apple cider vinegar acts as a calming gargle when you have a sore throat!
A little splash diluted in water will also make a great household cleaner or disinfectant. So yes, cleaning is good too! (16*)
Almond oil is a great way to make skin more supple, improve the appearance of acne scars, and get rid of dark spots.
All you need to do is apply almond oil over the affected area overnight using circular motions. You can also mix it with other oils like jojoba or even coconut to make your skin look radiant in the morning. After that, regularly use it every night until there are noticeable results.
Remember to exfoliate before applying this mixture, as dead cells can disrupt its effectiveness by trapping it within them. Be sure not to leave it on too long so as not to interfere with cell-renewal processes, which take place at night when your body should be resting and healing itself from external influences. (17*)
Tips for preventing future dark spots
The best tips to prevent future dark spots are avoiding using a tanning bed, wearing UV-rated clothing or sunscreen, and limiting the time you spend in direct sunlight. You can also use a topical product that contains an ingredient known as hydroquinone, which is sold over-the-counter in concentrations from two to four percent.
It's also important to wear glasses when you're outside and always use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher every day. Finally, if hyperpigmentation has been caused by acne, you have to consider how you're treating your acne.
When it comes to the best topical treatments for hyperpigmentation, hydroquinone is one of the most popular and effective ingredients utilized in a cream or lotion formulation that's applied directly to affected areas.
There are many ways to get rid of dark spots. The length and effectiveness will depend on the type of skin, severity, and speed you want.
We have gone over a few options that might be worth looking into if your goal is to reduce or fade them as quickly as possible. If you're not sure what's causing these marks or how they got there in the first place, it's time for an appointment with your dermatologist!
They'll provide more information about the underlying cause and help prescribe a treatment plan that targets their specific needs. I hope this guide has been helpful - feel free to reach out anytime if we can answer any additional questions!