I’ve struggled with dark spots on my face for years. As I got older, I began to notice hyperpigmentation, brown spots and sun damage steadily increasing beginning at around 40. As a 56 year old, hyperpigmentation is one of the many things that made my complexion look uneven. But I fought the battle and found ways to eliminate them.
What are Dark Spots on the Face?
Facial dark spots are also called hyperpigmentation. They can occur as small or large patches on your face, neck and decollate but can also affect small or large areas on the body.
Your skin contains pigment called melanin which acts as a protector. When dark spots occur, an excess of melanin is produced that forms patches of skin that are darker than your immediately surrounding skin.
Hyperpigmentation can affect any skin color but tend to affect those of us with darker skin.
They’re typically not unsafe but can occasionally be a symptom of an underlying medical condition.
What causes Facial Hyperpigmentation?
Hyperpigmentation is usually caused by any type of injury to your skin that reacts by creating extra dark melanin pigment. Here are 2 examples that apply to the 50+:
Too much Sun
You guessed it. It’s that well known enemy #1 for skin called sun. When you sit out in the sun, you’re actually injuring your skin that results in that coveted tan – coveted only until that first dark spot appears.
The sun’s harmful rays stimulate melanin and the result is darkened skin that is meant to act as sunscreen protection since melanin absorbs energy from UV rays and redistributes it.
Skin inflammation can sometimes lead to dark spots. As it relates to 50+, this can include any skin reaction such as sun burn, bug bite, eczema, acne or allergic reaction.
As the irritated skin heals from the reaction or breakout, it naturally produces excess melanin which darkens the skin. The worse the inflammation, the larger and darker the spot can be. It’s also why it’s best not to pick at your irritations such as pimples – it can increase the likelihood of developing a dark spot.
Why do Dark Spots WORSEN as we age?
Some dark spots are commonly referred to as liver spots, age spots, sun spots that are catch-all terms for years of accumulated sun damage that show up in areas most exposed to the sun; face, hands, shoulders, decollate, back, forearms, and feet.
Why does it seem so much more pronounced in us 55+ year olds? Some reasons include:
- Older skin is thinner and more translucent and emphasizes the appearance of spots.
- Melasma is a specific kind of hyperpigmentation which is often triggered by changes in estrogen or progesterone that are commonly elevated when using hormone replacement therapies (HRT’s).
How to prevent Dark facial spots
It doesn’t take much to aid in the prevention of dark spots. Here are the top 2 things you can do to protect yourself:
- Applying and reapply SPF 30 sunscreen or higher every 2 hours – even if you’re inside your home. Remember that even your computer monitor emits skin damaging light.
- Avoid the sun, particularly between 10 AM and 4:00 PM. If you have to be out, be sure to protect your skin by wearing a wide brimmed hat or umbrella, and sun protective clothing.
Remember, if you have dark spots, they may get darker with continued exposure to the sun.
How To get rid of Dark Spots on the Face
There are many touted remedies out there with varying degrees of success that I can’t speak to. But I can speak to what has worked for me:
- Hydroquinone. Although many people can develop reactions to Hydroquinone, I have found this to be the gold standard in getting rid of my hyperpigmentation topically. I saw results in about 8 weeks.
- Vitamin C Serum. This is a must for daily use.
- Lasers. The most expensive option, but by far the most impactful for me. IPL has been my laser of choice and the results are outstanding. It took 2 treatments before I saw significant results.
- Microdermabrasion. I use this for maintenance for mild hyperpigmentation that occasionally pops up between IPL treatments. Spa Amatista has a new Microdermabrasion treatment and it's excellent for removing skin flaws.
Getting dark spots can understandably be disconcerting when they first appear. But with proper prevention and regular maintenance, they can be controlled. Sometimes, your skin can actually become better than ever!
Ariane Laird is a contributing guest writer for Spa Amatista.