Your face is the first thing people see when they look at you, so it's understandable that you want to keep it looking healthy and glowing.
If you’re stressing out over a few new dark spots you’ve just noticed on your face you’d need not worry – we’re here to tell you exactly what they are, where they’ve come from, and what you can do to get rid of them.
What are facial dark spots?
A dark spot is a localized discolouration that occurs when melanin (a pigment in the skin) builds up in one area.
You may get dark spots after getting a sunburn, or they may appear as part of the natural ageing process. Dark spots can also be caused by acne scars (post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation), melasma, or birthmarks.
While they're sometimes referred to as "age spots," they can in fact occur at any age and are often a result of an interplay between environmental factors and genetics. Dark spots are typically brown or black in colour, though they can be red or blueish as well.
The good news is that most dark spots will fade over time as your skin heals and regenerates itself naturally. But if you want to speed up the process or prevent new dark spots from forming, there are several options available to you that will be discussed towards the end of the article.
What can cause dark spots?
Dark spots on the face are something that most people experience at some point in their lives and can be caused by a number of factors – from sun exposure to birth control pills. Here are the most significant causes of dark spots:
Prolonged sun exposure
There are several reasons why too much sun exposure can cause dark spots on your face. Firstly, the sun causes oxidative damage to the cells of your skin. This means that it breaks down the DNA in your skin cells, leading to cell death and discolouration – resulting in the visible formation of dark spots.
Secondly, when your skin is exposed to too much sunlight, it produces more melanin, which makes your skin darker (in order to protect itself from further damage) – again, leading to the formation of dark spots.
It’s worth mentioning that UV radiation also damages collagen production in your skin and causes wrinkles as well as fine lines around your eyes and mouth.
Acne scars are a common side effect of acne, resulting in the appearance of dark spots via hyperpigmentation.
Acne scars create inflammation in the skin as the skin attempts to heal from the damage caused by acne. During this healing process, the production of melanin is ramped up in the damaged skin cells – resulting in hyperpigmentation and the appearance of dark spots.
Pregnancy can cause some unexpected changes to your body. One of these changes is hyperpigmentation and dark spots on the face. If fact, the widespread appearance of facial dark spots during pregnancy is so common, that it has been coined ‘the mask of pregnancy.
During pregnancy, hormones like estrogen and progesterone are released into your body. These hormones cause your skin to produce more melanin, which is responsible for giving colour to your skin. Consequently, when you have more melanin than normal during pregnancy, clusters of dark have a tendency to form on your face.
Birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy
Birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy can also cause hyperpigmentation and dark spots on the face.
Hormonal contraceptives contain hormones that mimic estrogen and progesterone, which are two female sex hormones.
When these hormones are introduced into your body, they may change or increase the production of melanin in your skin (same as during pregnancy) – leading to the formation of dark spots.
Other skin conditions
Eczema, rosacea, and psoriasis can all cause hyperpigmentation and dark spots on the face. Eczema and rosacea are both inflammatory skin conditions that cause red, itchy patches on the body and face.
They are believed to be caused by an allergic reaction to something in your environment, such as pollen or pet dander. On the other hand, psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes scaly patches of skin anywhere on the body. It has no known cause or cure.
These conditions can all lead to dark spots on your face due to inflammation of the skin in those areas.
This inflammation makes it harder for dead cells in the outer layer of your skin to shed properly and be replaced by new ones—which leads to discolouration when they clump together instead of getting sloughed off naturally with age or sun exposure over time.
Do facial dark spots go away?
The short answer is yes, in most cases facial dark spots will eventually go away but it depends on what kind of dark spot you have.
As discussed, dark spots on the face and other areas of the body are caused by a number of factors, including sun exposure, hormonal changes, ageing, and genetics. These dark spots will eventually fade if you avoid the things that cause them.
If your dark spots are the result of recent sun exposure, they may disappear within a few months – depending on your skin type and how much you have exposed your skin to UV rays.
However, if your dark spots are the result of melasma or post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) from acne scarring, then it may take anywhere from one to five years for your skin to naturally shed the discolouration it has formed. (As a side note: when I say "shed," what I mean is that the cells that are causing the discolouration will die and be replaced with new cells.)
So yes—dark spots will fade eventually! But how long depends on what kind of dark spot you have and how quickly your skin can shed them before being replaced by new cells again
How do I get rid of dark spots on my face naturally?
Dark spots are a common problem for many people, but they don't have to be permanent. Here are some tips to help you get rid of dark spots on your face naturally:
- Avoid tanning beds and sun exposure as much as possible.
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables every day, especially green leafy vegetables like spinach and broccoli, as well as carrots and sweet potatoes (which are high in vitamin A).
- Try rubbing a lemon slice over the affected area. The citric acid in the lemon will help to brighten and lighten the skin.
- Alternatively, you can use avocado to reduce the appearance of dark spots. Mash an avocado and apply it directly to the affected area using a cotton ball. Leave it on for around 20 minutes before rinsing off with cold water.
What food causes dark spots on skin?
Dark spots on the skin are caused by an overproduction of melanin, which is the pigment that gives our skin its colour. This can be triggered by the foods we eat.
One common cause of dark spots on the skin is a high intake of sugar, which can directly lead to an increase in melanin production.
Another common culprit is dairy products like milk, cheese, and yoghurt. The hormones in these foods can also increase melanin production.
But don't worry—there are plenty of foods that can actually help lighten pigmentation and even out your skin tone.
The best foods to eat to reduce dark spots are those rich in vitamins C and E, as well as beta-carotene and zinc. We recommend eating lots of citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruits, leafy greens like spinach and kale, sweet potatoes, carrots and tomatoes—all of which contain these nutrients!
As a general rule, you should also try to eat fewer processed foods such as white bread or sugary sweets so that your body isn't being bombarded with preservatives and other chemicals that may contribute to the formation of dark spots on your skin.
How do you remove dark spots? Dark spot treatment options
Luckily, there are many ways to treat dark spots, including home remedies (some already discussed), over-the-counter creams, and a variety of dermatologist-approved treatments.
If you're looking for a treatment that's easy on the wallet and won't require a trip to the dermatologist, look for an over-the-counter cream of serum with the following active ingredients:
Retinol is a vitamin A derivative that has been used for decades to treat acne, sun damage and signs of ageing. It's also one of the best skincare ingredients for getting rid of dark spots.
Retinol works by increasing cell turnover, which helps unclog pores and remove dead skin cells. It also helps boost collagen production and reduce inflammation. Today, many serums on the market contain retinol as their active ingredient, such as AXXZIA’s Vital rich essence serum.
Retinol is generally safe when used according to instructions on its labels or by your healthcare provider. In rare cases, people who use them regularly have experienced side effects like dryness, redness and irritation—so it’s important to talk with your doctor if something doesn't seem right after starting the use of retinol.
Vitamin C is another useful ingredient in the treatment and removal of dark spots. They are a good addition to your skincare routine because they help to slow down the production of melanin, which is responsible for the appearance of dark spots.
The active ingredient in these creams is vitamin C, which helps to exfoliate your skin. This causes dead skin cells to fall off, revealing new skin that has been hidden by the dark spots.
Vitamin C also provides antioxidant benefits, which can help to reduce inflammation and prevent future sun damage to your skin.
By using a vitamin C serum, such as WHITE ICHIGO’s organic vitamin c infused tech-serum, you’ll help brighten any dark spots on your face, reduce the appearance of any hyperpigmentation, and fight against ageing and the appearance of wrinkles.
If you’re more interested in how to get rid of eye wrinkles, here’s an article that discusses it in depth (link to the article as requested).
As well as vitamin C and retinol, hydroquinone is a popular way to get rid of dark spots and hyperpigmentation. Hydroquinone works by inhibiting melanin synthesis, which is the process that creates darker skin tones. Hydroquinone creams can be used on their own or with other topical skin care treatments.
There are a number of products available on the market that combine any number of these ingredients to give you a comprehensive dark-spot-removing serum.
One such example is AMARANTH’S HQ-C Fulla Serum, containing active amounts of both Hydroquinone and vitamin c; resulting in a serum that is super effective a lightening up your dark spots, and preventing them from returning.
If over-the-counter treatments have failed to remove your dark spots, there are a number of in-office dermatological interventions that can be used.
Laser therapy is a procedure that uses light to treat dark spots. Laser therapy is a safe and effective treatment option for people with all skin types, although it may not be able to fully remove dark spots on darker complexions. It can also help to improve the appearance of acne scars, stretch marks, and other skin conditions.
Chemical peels work by removing the outermost layers of skin. They can be used to treat acne and other skin conditions, including dark spots.
There are a number of different types of chemical peels, including strong glycolic acid peels and salicylic acid peels.
Whilst there are various chemical peels available over the counter, you won’t be able to use the stronger acid peels without going through a dermatologist.
A single treatment is often enough to get rid of dark spots on its own—although some people may need two or three treatments before seeing results.
Microdermabrasion is a non-invasive procedure that uses small crystals to gently exfoliate the skin. It can be used to treat dark spots, leaving your skin looking smooth and even.
The process involves applying a fine spray of microcrystals onto your face and then using a hand wand to massage it into your skin. This exfoliative process removes dead skin cells from the surface of your skin in order to reveal newer, healthier layers underneath.
Whilst all these in-office dermatological treatments will likely help reduce the appearance of dark spots, we’d strongly recommend trying over-the-counter treatment first. You’ll save yourself a lot of money, and perhaps some of the undesirable side effects associated with heavy-duty skin treatment.
The bottom line.
A dark spot is a simply localized discolouration of the skin that occurs due to the build-up of melanin. Dark spots are very common and may be caused by a number of different factors, including sun exposure, ageing, and hormonal fluctuations.
Most dark spots will fade naturally, but there are a number of different treatment options, both over-the-counter and in-office that can be used to speed up this process.