Whether you’ve been worshiping the sun’s rays at the beach since birth, or been a life-long stickler when it comes to applying SPF every day, let’s face it: Sun happens. And with it come sunspots, freckles, and hyperpigmentation. With summer fast approaching, it’s time to start rectifying the sins of the past and turn back the clock on sun-damaged skin.
Sun, heat, hormones, and inflammation can all cause your skin to produce an overabundance of melanin, the main culprit behind skin discoloration. And once the process starts, it’s hard to get it to stop. In fact, your skin quickly becomes trained to continue to produce more and more melanin every time it’s exposed to these triggers.
Fortunately, there are treatments that can help stop the process in its tracks and eradicate their unsightly side effects—but you’ll only find them at your dermatologist’s office (sorry, drugstore devotees). The most common and effective procedures to treat pigmentation are chemical peels, micro-needling, Intensive Pulsed Light (IPL) Therapy, and Fractional Laser Resurfacing, each of which can be customized with one or more of the following high-active ingredients to effectively target your specific discoloration issues:
Kojic Acid: Great for deep discoloration, such as melasma. Bonus! It works well in combination with other lighteners and won’t dry out your skin.
Glycolic Acid: Found in peels and topical exfoliating treatments, this powerful acid will have you saying goodbye to brown spots.
Vitamin C: Remember squeezing lemon juice in your hair to lighten your locks? It can work just as well when it comes to erasing sunspots, thanks to its ability to diffuse melanin production.
Retinol: Proven effective for reversing pigmentation and skin damage, this naturally occurring Vitamin A derivative encourages skin turnover, bringing fresh, clean cells to the surface.
Licorice Extract: A treasured natural remedy for a number of health issues, licorice is also effective in combating skin conditions like rosacea and psoriasis, as well as a natural skin-lightening alternative.
Azelaic Acid: The go-to choice for discoloration resulting from acne and rosacea, this naturally derived acid rivals the skin-lightening properties of hydroquinone, without the negative side effects.
Whatever treatment option you choose or ingredient cocktail you incorporate in you regiment, remember that the only way to prevent hyperpigmentation is to AVOID the sun and to use sunscreen every day.