Dark spots on skin are more common than you think, and their root causes start well before you’ve had to bother about looking for ways, let alone natural ways to treat hyperpigmentation. Even though we associate hyperpigmentation with mature skin, it’s likely your environment, diet and/or lifestyle in your early years has had a lot to do with its appearance. It’s generally only in our later life though that we see its more visible signs.
If you’re looking for ways to naturally even out your skin texture without the use of prescription or harsh synthetic chemical creams and lotions, then this post may provide the help you’re seeking.
Just What is Hyperpigmentation?
Hyperpigmentation is easily diagnosed as it is characterized by darker patches of skin caused by an increase of melanin in those particular spots. Melanin is the brown pigment that gives our skin that beautiful bronze color, however when an excess of this pigment is produced, it will result in hyperpigmentation; an area of skin that is darker than the rest of our skin.
Melanin plays a photo-protective role in protecting our skin from damaging UV rays; but, conversely, it also plays a contributory role in the growth of cancerous melanocytes. The role of melanoma and rise in malignant melanomas are the subject of intense scientific debate and research and beyond this post here, but if you wish to read more, we suggest diving into this article here.
The type of hyperpigmentation we’re addressing is that of so-called liver spots or age-related spots. This is the hyperpigmentation of the cosmetic variety that mars our skin tone as we age. It may be mild and just localized to one area, or it may be more severe, with many dark patches over your body. There are an array of causes from too much sun exposure to hormonal changes.
While we should always embrace ourselves for who we are, we understand that hyperpigmentation can be at best irritating and at worst embarrassing when it affects areas that are easily visible, such as our hands or face. Below, we outline some natural, and most importantly gentle ways to treat and even your skin tone if you find you’re prone to hyperpigmentation.
Hyperpigmentation Types and Causes
Melasma and Hormonal Changes
This is a very common type of hyperpigmentation that occurs in pregnant women due to massive hormonal changes in the body. It is often referred to as the pregnancy mask, as it appears in a mask-like pattern over the bottom half of the face.
Melasma is not just a result of pregnancy hormones though. Any significant hormonal changes can cause this discoloration, from birth control pills to a thyroid disorder.
Age Spots and UV Rays
Perhaps you’ve notice as you get older, the appearance of small, flat tan, brown or black spots on the back of your hands, your face, your shoulders or the top of your arms.They are simply oxidized skin lipids that turn brown or even yellow, and they are often called liver spots, although they have nothing to do with the liver. These are extremely common and a direct result of over overexposure to the sun.
Injury and Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation
Often a wound can fully heal, but still leave behind inflammation that can later turn into hyperpigmentation. Common examples are scars left behind from cystic acne, or any trauma to the skin that causes some damage. While this can occur in all skin types, it’s more common in darker skin tones.
Natural Ways to Treat Hyperpigmentation*
There are many treatment options for hyperpigmentation, from creams and chemical peels to laser therapy. While effective to some degree, these treatments can be quite harsh and should be avoided if your skin is even slightly sensitive. Of course, if your condition is severe, we recommend consulting a dermatologist. However, if you’d prefer to try some natural and more soothing ways to lighten up these darker areas, take a look at this list:
Vitamin C To Lighten
Vitamin C is a favorite beauty vitamin for brightening up the skin, so it makes sense that it will help to lighten hyperpigmentation too. The powerful antioxidant activity of Vitamin C will reduce the enzyme tyrosinase, which therefore prevents melanin production. Look for products with concentrated amounts of Vitamin C, and always ask questions if you aren’t sure how to use it.
Because high concentrations of Vitamin C may also cause some irritation, it’s recommended that you always do a patch test first. Also, be aware the Vitamin C is often delivered in the form of citrus extracts and these can cause photo-sensitivity and -toxicity. Always read the usage instructions very carefully of any natural anti-hyperpigmentation cream or lotion; it may be that you need to apply them at night so you are not exposed to daylight.
While cosmetics on the market in the European Union are subject to strict dermal limits for potential irritants such as some citrus oils or extracts and other furocoumarins, you must stick strictly to the usage directions even if you choose a Bergapten-free product. Some citrus such as mandarin (Green) essentialoil (Citrus reticulata), steam-distilled lime essential oil (Citrus aurantifolia) and sweet orange essential oil (Citrus sinensis) are naturally Bergapten free.
We must stress that natural ways to treat hyperpigmentation aren’t ‘chemical-free’ ways to do so. Remember, that naturals are chemicals and anyone, particular those with sensitive skin, must do a test patch of any new skincare product before full use, and we advise consulting a dermatologist for advice on your particular skin conditions.
DIY Milk and Honey Mask To Effectively Exfoliate
Mix milk and natural, organic honey together to a smooth paste. Apply and leave for 15 minutes, then wash off and pat your face gently dry. This treatment will not only feel wonderful on your skin, it will help to provide a deep dose of hydration while the lactic acid in milk aids in sloughing off dead skin cells. Done regularly, you should start to notice an improvement in pigmentation patches.
This may be a new one for you, but with the latest bio-med research, we seeing marine algae and seaweed as a wonderful natural way to treat hyperpigmentation. Marine active botanicals can reduce the visibility of hyperpigmentation, because they inhibit tyrosinase, an enzyme responsible for melanin production. Certain algae extracts coming on to the cosmetics’ market are also excellent for restoring the skin, resulting in an overall smoother complexion and skin tone, with less blotchiness. As a Mediterranean-born and -inspired skincare company, we are incorporating several such advanced marine, bio-med ingredients into our mature skincare.
Aloe vera is another must ingredient here at Alchemy du Corps, thanks to it’s powerful concentration of nutrients, minerals and antioxidants. Not only will aloe vera help to hydrate and soothe a sunburn, it will help to slough off dead skin cells, while regenerating new ones. In this way, it can really help in treating and reducing the severity of hyperpigmentation. To enhance aloe’s healing and repairing effects, break open a pure Vitamin E capsule and add it to the gel before slathering on affected areas.
Most Important Tip of All…
While we’ve outlined some of the easier and most useful natural ways to treat hyperpigmentation, the most important piece of advice we can give you is to never expose your skin to the UV rays of the sun without full protection; meaning an SPF of at least 30, but higher if possible. By protecting your skin, you will reduce further hyperpigmentation, not to mention you’ll prevent the signs of aging, as well as lower your risk of skin cancer too.
*Disclaimer: The advice and information outlined here and elsewhere on this site does not constitute medical nor dermatological advice. It is advisable to contact a professional, qualified medical practitioner and/or aesthetician about your particular medical skin conditions and issues.