Struggling with the uneven skin tone of sunspots? This is one of the most common skin complaints, especially as we move from summer into autumn. Luckily this problem is easily treatable with a mixture of at-home and in-clinic treatments. Here, we quizzed the experts about the best course of action.
The causes of uneven skin tone
There is a multitude of reasons you can suffer from uneven skin tone. One of the most common causes is a condition called melasma. This is where darker patches of skin appear on the skin and often occur in women as they age. “It is associated with hormones (oral contraceptives, IVF, HRT, pregnancy), sun exposure and genetics. It is more common in women with darker skin types,” consultant dermatologist Dr. Ophelia Veraitch explained. To establish whether your uneven skin tone is melasma, it is best to seek advice from a professional.
Another cause of uneven skin tone is inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis. “The cause of the uneven skin tone can be from active inflammation itself, post-inflammatory changes, or the effects of treatment,” Dr. Veraitch noted.
The sun’s rays could also cause uneven skin tone. “UV damage is one of the most common culprits for uneven looking skin which shows itself in pigmentation on the face, fine lines and wrinkles and eventually sunspots,” Dr. Ross Perry, medical director of Cosmedics skin clinics, highlighted.
Unfortunately, the aftermath of acne could also leave you with uneven skin tone. “If you’re prone to picking and squeezing, you could easily end up with scarring,” Dr. Perry highlighted.
How to tackle uneven skin at home
Fear not, you are sentenced to a lifetime of uneven skin tone. It can be tackled at home with a number of over-the-counter ingredients. Firstly, niacinamide, a water-soluble form of vitamin B3. “Niacinamide helps build healthy skin cells and protect them from damage by UV radiation. These properties help niacinamide regulate skin tone and brighten skin complexion,” Dr. Veraitch said. Tranexamic acid, a relatively new active ingredient, could also be worth investing in. “It has been shown to help prevent and treat UV radiation-induced skin darkening and melasma,” Dr. Veraitch clarified.
Retinoids, a hero for all skin types and must-have in any bathroom, could also tackle uneven skin. “They are very effective at treating uneven skin tone because it encourages cell turnover, exfoliating old, dull cells and allowing new healthier skin cells to come to the surface,” Dr. Veraitch pointed out. Consider vitamin C, which Dr. Perry recommends: “I’d use a vitamin C serum which is rich in antioxidants and targets uneven skin tone as well as hydrates the skin to make it appear brighter, firmer, and smoother.”
Remember prevention is as important as a cure so wearing sufficient sun protection is vital in terms of protecting against sun damage. “Wear a broad spectrum SPF daily. For people with pigmented skin, physical sunblocks tend to provide better protection,” Dr. Veraitch suggested.
If you are still struggling with consistent uneven skin tone after amping up your at-home routine, it might be worth trying a more powerful in-clinic procedure. For instance, lasers work wonders on this type of skin issue. “I suggest the 1924 nm wavelength on the Fraxel Dual laser… this is very specific and effective at targeting areas of excessive pigment and I have seen excellent results with this,” Dr. Veraitch noted.
If not, there are plenty of other options. “Using a Skin Pen or microneedling is great for unwanted acne scars and premature aging,” Dr. Perry said. “Chemical peels such as salicylic acid, glycolic acid, lactic acid, VI Peel which all remove the epidermis and help to reduce the appearance of uneven skin tone,” Dr. Veraitch added.
What about sunspots?
Sunspots are a particular type of discoloration or hyperpigmentation. They tend to appear as small, flat and darkened patches of skin that are light brown to black in color and are most common in people over the age of 40. “Skin pigmentation is caused by an increased production of melanin which is the natural pigment that gives our skin its color. Excessive sun exposure increases the amount of melanin that skin produces. The dark spots on our skin are generally triggered by over-exposure to the sun,” Dr. Perry explained.
What to do about sunspots
First things first, avoid excessive sun exposure by wearing appropriate clothing (like a wide brim hat or long sleeves) and get into the habit of wearing an SPF on a daily basis no matter the weather. “I would always advise on getting a full skin examination and advice from a dermatologist. They will be able to tell whether the sunspots need treating or not,” Dr. Perry said.
Once you have been checked over, you can then go about treating the spots. “I advise alternating at night time between hydroquinone and tretinoin. Both of these ingredients are prescription-only and because they are so effective need to be used sparingly,” Dr. Veraitch said.
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