There's nothing more frustrating than spending all of your time (and money) taking care of your skin just to be left with dark spots that won't budge. While hyperpigmentation is totally normal, you shouldn't have to just deal with it.
If you’re wondering how to remove dark spots on your face, you’re in luck. With a bit of finesse, you'll be able to achieve your dream skin and banish those dark spots for good.
What Are Dark Spots?
Dark spots, also called hyperpigmentation, are patches of skin that are darker than your natural skin tone. They can occur anywhere on the body, but we often notice them first on the face.
These dark spots can range in size and color, but they're usually oval-shaped and flat. Raised dark spots are signs of scarring, moles, or other skin conditions that are unrelated.
What Causes Dark Spots?
Dark spots are caused by an overproduction of melanin - the pigment that gives our skin its color. Melanin is notably prevalent in darker skin tones, but everyone has it.
Sometimes, our body produces way more melanin than it needs to, and we end up with an uneven complexion that can make our skin look dull instead of glowy. Although this isn't technically bad, it can be annoying to deal with, especially when you're working hard to clear up your skin.
Is Too Much Melanin Bad?
While it's frustrating to notice dark spots on your face, they're actually your body's attempt to protect your skin. Melanin is fantastic at absorbing harmful rays, specifically the UV rays from the sun.
It protects us from things like skin cancer, sunburn, and skin damage. You should always wear sunscreen, but you can think of melanin like an extra layer of sun protection.
The issue with melanin arises when our body jumps into hyperdrive. Too much sun or not enough sun protection can cause skin damage, which makes our body feel like it needs to produce an excessive amount of melanin.
This extra melanin clumps up and creates those flat dark spots that seem impossible to erase.
The Reasons Behind Dark Spots
Melanin is meant to protect us from sun damage, but varying factors can increase our likelihood of developing dark spots.
In order to get rid of hyperpigmentation in your skin, it's vital that you understand what may be behind your dark spots.
By stopping the problem at the source, you can prevent dark spots from forming and freeze the cycle of hyperpigmentation in its tracks.
At some point, we all experience some kind of hormonal change. Pregnancy, switching birth control, starting hormone therapy, and even puberty are all changes that can cause our hormones to go absolutely haywire.
If you're going through one of these, it's important to be gentle with yourself and your skin. Changing hormones wreak havoc on the body, which triggers our body to leap into action. In this case, it can cause our body to make way too much melanin, leading to hyperpigmentation, dark spots, or melasma.
Melasma is a skin condition that produces dark patches on the skin, and often on the face. Unlike general hyperpigmentation, some cases of melasma can be permanent.
But, there are often underlying triggers that can make the dark spots worse. If you address the cause and make specific adjustments to your lifestyle, you can minimize the appearance of melasma just like any other dark spot.
Cuts, scratches, and gashes are notorious for leaving behind dark patches. These are all examples of broken skin, which is incredibly vulnerable to harmful UV rays.
Dark spots left behind by skin damage often seem like scarring, but there's no reason to panic. While rigid or raised skin is potentially a sign of more serious damage, flat dark spots are easier to fade and don't have to be permanent.
Acne is a form of skin damage that's often overlooked. Since breakouts are so common, most people don't even realize that the body considers pimples to be broken skin.
It reacts the same way to acne that it does to a wound - it floods the area with extra melanin to protect it from potential sun damage. The dark spots that are left behind are known as "post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation" or PIH.
If you're someone that experiences frequent breakouts, you may notice a cycle of acne and PIH that continues to repeat over and over again. Just as your skin clears up, those pesky dark spots pop up again.
This is especially true for people that pick at their acne or pop their pimples. Even if it doesn't cause scarring, it can often create more damage, resulting in dark spots that are more prominent and deeper in tone.
Certain medications can increase your skin's photosensitivity, which means it will be far more susceptible to damage from the sun. These medications can make dark spots darken even further and can worsen the appearance of hyperpigmentation.
Certain antibiotics and anti-inflammatories can even cause melasma, so it's important to check with your doctor about the potential side effects of new medications.
You've been doing everything you can to keep your skin looking clean and fresh, but it is possible to overdo it. Many skincare products have potent active ingredients that can be super irritating to our skin.
Retinoids and exfoliants are two of the major culprits. If you use the products too often, or if you use products that are too harsh, they can create micro-tears all over your face. While trying to heal the damage, you may develop large patches of hyperpigmentation.
It's best practice to incorporate retinoids and exfoliants slowly to ensure that your skin can adapt to the new product.
It's also a good idea to invest in gentle and effective products. Cleansers like the Axxzia Beauty Force Purifying Wash Foam, which uses the mild exfoliating properties of lactic acid, delicately exfoliate the skin without causing redness or irritation.
Can Dark Spots Go Away on Their Own?
Dark spots can be overwhelming, especially when you consider just how many things could be causing them.
For this reason, it may be tempting to wait for them to disappear on their own so you don't have to worry about finding the right treatment. Unfortunately, this is not recommended.
While some dark spots do fade naturally, they can stick around on your face for up to a year! And, if the cause of the hyperpigmentation isn't stopped, you can find yourself stuck with hyperpigmentation that continues to fade and reappear.
The other problem with waiting to treat your dark spots is that they can actually become darker and harder to remove over time.
Occasionally, dark patches will neutralize and blend back into your natural skin tone, but if you haven't addressed the issue, your body is likely to continue producing excess melanin.
You Can Remove Dark Spots at Home
There's no reason to wait to treat your hyperpigmentation because you can remove dark spots on your face fast - and you can do it at home!
Most hyperpigmentation can be treated with a few tweaks to your beauty routine. All you need is a little patience and the right tools in your skincare arsenal.
Here are some of the best ingredients for banishing dark spots and preventing hyperpigmentation in the first place:
How to Remove Dark Spots on Face with Skincare
Retinol is an insanely powerful ingredient that speeds up your skin's cell turnover rate and leaves you with a smooth, youthful complexion. Its effect on dark spots is twofold.
By increasing cell production, retinol encourages the shedding of old skin. This reveals new, undamaged skin faster, which speeds up the time it takes for your hyperpigmentation to fade.
But retinol doesn't just treat hyperpigmentation; it can also prevent it. It's known to have anti-inflammatory effects, so you'll be less likely to develop post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation when you use it regularly.
Vitamin C is known for brightening dull skin. It also lightens dark spots and reduces the chance of new ones forming by attacking hyperpigmentation at the source.
Vitamin C inhibits tyrosinase - an essential enzyme in the melanin production process. Without it, our body can't produce as much melanin. This both clears visible dark spots and evens out your entire complexion.
Ceramides make up almost 40% of our skin's outer layer. They're essential protectors of our skin's collagen, but we lose some of our ceramides with age.
Luckily, many moisturizers contain ceramides to supplement what we lose. When dealing with dark spots, it's a good idea to have at least one product with ceramides at your disposal.
This White Ichigo Organic Tech-Serum with vitamin C incorporates both ceramides and vitamin C to fade hyperpigmentation while gently brightening the skin. It also promotes collagen growth, and its ceramides help your skin fight off free radicals.
Free radicals are electron-stealing molecules that can harm your skin and lead to age spots and melasma. But, by incorporating ceramides into your routine, you can strengthen your skin against these molecules and even prevent unnecessary signs of aging.
Niacinamide is a powerhouse ingredient that's great for sensitive skin. Not everyone can handle frequent use of retinol or vitamin C, and if you can't, niacinamide may be the better option.
Gentle on sensitive skin, niacinamide is still fantastic at blocking melanin from being produced and preventing dark spots before they happen. Niacinamide also encourages cell turnover, which can fade existing spots.
Even if you don't have dark spots, antioxidants are a must. Similarly to ceramides, antioxidants prevent damage caused by free radicals. Since free radicals are all around us in pollution and the chemicals we use, they're unavoidable.
But, by choosing products with antioxidant properties - like matcha - you can keep your skin safe from the destruction they cause.
The Kyoto Komachi Matcha Beauty Essence Cream uses the power of green tea, shea butter, and vitamin E to smooth the complexion while healing damaged skin. It's super easy to add to your routine, and it'll help to fade away your stubborn dark spots.
Hydroquinone reduces the number of melanocytes present in your skin which can actually lighten your entire skin tone. This active ingredient is a potent defense against severe hyperpigmentation or melasma, and you can often find it in a convenient serum or cream.
Since it is so powerful, choosing a gentle product with a low concentration of hydroquinone is crucial. The Amaranth HQ-C Fulla serum has 5% hydroquinone, so it won't irritate your skin.
It also contains vitamin C and fullerene, an antioxidant that protects the skin from free radicals. This serum attacks dark spots from all angles, but it's gentle enough to be incorporated into your beauty routine without causing micro-tears or abrasions.
It may sound simple, but a good moisturizer is one of the most overlooked remedies for dark spots. If your skin is dry, it's more prone to tears and abrasions, and it's less able to protect itself from external damage. Our skin's moisture barrier is its first defense against free radicals and UV radiation. If you're not using moisturizer consistently, or if the one you're using isn't doing the job well enough, it's time to make a change. Look for a moisturizer like the Noa Noa Luxe Whitening Gel. This face cream lightens pigmentation, quenches dry skin, and strengthens your moisture barrier, so your skin will be ready to fight off whatever it needs to.
One of the most important ingredients on this list is SPF. Since melanin's purpose is to protect our skin cells from UV radiation, we can stop melanin overload by taking matters into our own hands and prioritizing sun protection.
Choose a strong sunscreen and reapply consistently. With this small step, you can minimize skin damage from the sun and stop hyperpigmentation from happening or getting worse.
If you don't want to add yet another product to your regimen, feel free to combine your sunscreen with other active ingredients. This Comoace UV Cream with Silk Extract has an SPF of 50+ and raw silk protein. It'll brighten your skin tone while effectively protecting you from the sun's UV rays.
Dark spots can be frustrating, but they don't have to be forever. With a few tweaks to your skincare routine and a deeper understanding of what's behind your hyperpigmentation, you can remove the dark spots on your face fast and for good!
If you're looking for the best skincare products for dark spots, check out our post on the best hyperpigmentation skincare products!