Have you noticed some unevenness in your skin tone? Developing dark spots or patches on your skin is known as hyperpigmentation or melasma; this cosmetic discoloration can be frustrating and can really affect our self-esteem. While these dark spots are not exactly the ‘easiest’ to get rid of, this guide will provide you with the solutions! Let’s explore why dark spots appear, what causes them, which treatments are typically used, effective natural remedies, and how you can prevent dark spots from making an appearance in the first place.
The Causes of Dark Spots
Melanin is the pigment responsible for producing your skin, eye and hair colour.. Having an ‘uneven’ skin tone is caused by an overproduction of this melanin skin pigment, which leads to dark and blotchy patches. Commonly affected areas are the forehead, cheeks, upper lip, and chin. After hitting 30 years of age, these can also show up as ‘age spots’ on the hands and other areas of the body.
What triggers the body to develop these dark spots?
- Exposure to damaging UV rays: hello sunshine and tanning beds. While we love the glow that a tan provides, prolonged exposure to UV light increases free radical production. Damage to skin cell DNA may trigger the overproduction of melanin, causing dark spots and skin discoloration .
- Hormonal changes: Women who take birth control pills or who are pregnant may experience skin tone abnormalities as the body reacts to a change in hormone levels. This may produce a type of skin darkening; which typically affects the cheeks, chin, and forehead. Being in a state of estrogen dominance also stimulates MSH (Melanocyte Stimulating Hormones), which produces melanin .
- Inflammation: When the skin becomes inflamed, due to acne, chemical peels, laser hair removal, other skin treatments, toxic products or general damage – your skin may react by producing too much melanin during the healing process .
- Stress: Unaddressed stress has many negative effects. When cortisol levels are high, progesterone is typically lower – which can mess up the balance of estrogen to progesterone. Long-term exposure to stress weakens the body as a whole – including the endocrine system which is related to your adrenal and thyroid health . If you have unaddressed stress that is negatively affecting your health, take The Stress Q & A.
- Poor Gut Health: Your wonderful microbiome is home to trillions of microbes and at least 1,000 different known species. ‘Estrobolome’ is a type of gut bacteria which produces an enzyme that helps your body to metabolize estrogen. Having a healthy gut plays a large role in your overall level of health, and healthy digestion is essential for hormone balancing (and skin health) by both regulating and removing hormones .
- Sluggish Liver: Your liver conducts hundreds of important functions, some of which include metabolizing and removing excessive amounts of hormones from the body. When you improve your liver function there are many positive results associated, in the case of skin health this may provide a reduction of dark spots and an improvement in overall complexion . Do you have a Sluggish Liver? Find more information in this blog post.
- Various medical conditions: Addison’s disease, Cushing’s disease, celiac disease, and other genetic and hormonal disorders may also lead to an uneven skin tone. Smoking can also increase the risk (free radicals).
How To Treat Melasma
While there is no definite cure, this condition is one that can be well-managed. An overproduction of melanin is most commonly induced by hormonal imbalances and is exacerbated by harmful UV ray exposure, certain medications (birth control pills), a sluggish liver, poor gut health, stress, adrenal/thyroid health and inflammation – as shared above. Knowing that these are triggers, keeping these factors in mind is the most important tool for keeping melasma managed and under control.
Common treatments for melasma involve:
- Topical lightening agents, such as hydroquinone which works to inhibit tyrosinase, an enzyme involved in the production of melanin.
- Tretinoin is an acid that increases skin cell turnover.
- Azelaic acid is thought to decrease the activity of melanocytes.
- Tranexamic acid when taken internally has been shown to lighten melasma by decreasing melanogenesis in epidermal melanocytes.
- Cysteamine hydrochloride is said to inhibit the melanin synthesis pathway.
- Microdermabrasion, dermabrasion treatments and laser treatments may improve complexion.
While these treatments have shown their potential, one thing that these options won’t really do for you is correct the underlying root cause as to why the hyperpigmentation appeared in the first place. No amount of lightening cream and various acids are going to correct a hormonal imbalance or heal your gut!
In fact, some of these products are quite harsh and contain known carcinogens, which may just bring some side effects to the table. Surely there is a more natural approach that can be taken to provide real and measurable results while additionally supporting your best health and wellness.
Natural Remedies for Melasma
When we think skin-care and skin conditions, we think topical. But your skin is really a reflection of what is happening on the inside. While I am going to provide my top four topical natural remedies for improving melasma, you should be aware of the internal work that may be required to truly manage the condition:
- Are your hormones balanced?
- Do you have chronic inflammation?
- Are you properly managing your stress levels? Are you in a state of adrenal fatigue?
- Do you have poor digestion?
- Is your liver sluggish?
Loaded questions, but many of us already know the answers…
TOP 4 NATURAL REMEDIES FOR DARK SPOTS
Apple Cider Vinegar
Find me a list where ACV isn’t listed as a remedy. This product really has 101 uses! For dark spots, there are many proposed methods of action. ACV may act as a drying agent that helps to fade dark spots, it cleanses the skin to remove dirt, impurities and other toxins, it balances the skin’s pH levels, and there are skin lightening/brightening properties that work to restore an even skin tone .
YOUR APPLE CIDER VINEGAR FACIAL TONER:
- Mix 1 part organic/raw apple cider vinegar (with mother) to 4 parts filtered water. You can add this mixture to a small glass spray bottle or a mason jar.
- After cleansing your face, pat dry with a towel and spritz your face 2-3 times with the toner, another option is using an organic cotton ball to apply.
- Gently massage for a few minutes then allow to dry. This can be done multiple times per day.
- Always do a patch test first to see how your skin responds. It is best to start with this 4:1 ratio which is best for sensitive skin, you can slowly increase the amount of apple cider vinegar up to a maximum 1:1 ratio.
- Apply the Helichrysum Facial Serum (see below) to follow.
Part of the sunflower family, the beautiful helichrysum flower has a long history for its use in supporting skin health and creating an even complexion. Helichrysum Italicum Essential Oil contains powerful properties for decreasing inflammation and rejuvenating the skin. It stimulates new cell development and is effective for not only hyperpigmentation, but also for scars, acne, rosacea, stretch marks, eczema, varicose veins and any other oxidative skin damage. I have found this to be the most effective (yet widely unknown) essential oil for hyperpigmentation .
HELICHRYSUM FACIAL SERUM
- Add 2oz (60ml) of Rose Rubiginosa Carrier Oil to a dark glass bottle with an eye dropper.
- Add in 20 drops of Helichrysum Extra Essential Oil.
- Put the lid on the bottle and gently roll between the palms of your hands for about 30 seconds to mix the essential oils in with carrier oil.
- After cleansing your face and applying an Apple Cider Vinegar Facial Toner apply a drop of serum to your forehead, each cheek, and chin and gently massage in using small, soft upward strokes.
- Less means more with serums and essential oils! This serum can be used 1-2 times daily in your morning and evening skincare routine.
Newco Natural Technology utilizes broccoli’s most powerful phytonutrient, sulforaphane. Cruciferous vegetables such as kale, cabbage and brussels sprouts also contain this phytonutrient – however, the highest levels are found in broccoli, and more specifically broccoli seeds and 3-day old broccoli sprouts – which contain up to 100 times more glucoraphanin (converted to sulforaphane) than mature broccoli plants .
Sulforaphane has the power to protect healthy DNA by turning on a set of skin-protection genes. By increasing the thickness of the skin’s epidermis, sulforaphane not only helps to target fine lines and soften deep wrinkles, but it also reduces inflammation and repairs DNA. It’s ability to naturally improve cell turnover, makes it an excellent treatment for improving the lustre and tone of the skin, and it also yields protection against UV radiation damage and UV light-induced skin cancer .
- Apply a modest amount of the Sulforaphane Ointment after cleansing, and before or after applying your Helichrysum Facial Serum.
- Apply to affected areas. This ointment can be used 1-6 times daily and can also be used on minor burns, skin irritations, skin tags, cold sores, moles, scars, keratosis, dark circles under eyes, stretch marks, acne, psoriasis, eczema and plantar warts.
Phytonutrients from plants are a trend in naturally balancing out uneven skin tones . Turmeric is a vibrant spice and a cousin to ginger. Turmeric has generated a lot of buzz in the natural health world (here are some of my favourite uses). A powerful anti-inflammatory thanks to it’s curcuminode and antioxidant content. Turmeric can work to reduce the occurrence of blemishes and it can also balance out your pigmentation, which might sound counterintuitive considering turmeric stains pretty much everything!
YOUR SIMPLE TURMERIC FACE MASK:
This is best before a shower and you will see results when this is practiced 2-3 times per week.
- Add 1 tsp of organic turmeric powder to ¼ cup of raw honey, aloe vera or full-fat organic yogurt to create a face mask that has an ‘easily spreadable’ consistency. It will of course be vibrant orange, keep your best towels away.
- Begin by cleansing with a natural skin care option, such as the Skin Essence Fresh Cleanser, pat dry and then evenly and lightly apply the face mask – use your fingertips or a clean makeup brush (keep in mind again that turmeric is messy).
- Leave on for 15-20 minutes, then rinse off in the shower, scrubbing gently to remove, apply the Helichrysum Facial Oil to follow.
While there are many other essential oils such as neroli oil and carrot seed oil, and other alternatives such as using sandalwood powder, lemon juice and raw potato slices – all which show great potential in eliminating dark spots, these are my top four natural remedies to begin with. I believe it is often best to keep things simplified instead of listing 20+ remedies. I don’t want to leave you with uncertainty on where to begin.
How To Prevent Melasma
A key point in this article and the closing subject is practicing prevention – which is the most productive step to take for preventing not only dark spots, but many other ailments. “Treatment without prevention is simply unsustainable”.
Exposure to sunlight, as mentioned, can exacerbate the development of dark spots. In addition to that, heat is also a trigger! Not to say you should miss out on your vitamin D! Protect your face by providing some shade with a trendy hat and sunglasses (sorry about the raccoon eyes). Wear a natural sunscreen if you’re going to stay out for a long period of time (check out the Safe Guide to Sunscreens by EWG). As you create a healthier body through a clean diet, an increased intake of phytonutrients and healthy fats – these lifestyle changes will provide internal support in protecting your skin (like an added bonus level).
This has been your guide to getting rid of dark spots. I did tell you at the beginning that this isn’t the easiest task, but with these detailed guidelines you should be seeing some positive results for more than just complexion!
 What Should Be Considered in Treatment of Melasma
Hee Kang-Jean-Paul Ortonne – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2991712/
 Natural Solutions for Dark Spots, Uneven Skin Tone, and Discoloration
 Eighteen Overlooked Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue
 The Gut-Skin Connection
 My Cure for Melasma
 Get Rid of Dark Spots using Apple Cider Vinegar
 The Fix: Hyperpigmentation
 Broccoli sprouts: An exceptionally rich source of inducers of enzymes that protect against chemical carcinogens
Jed Fahey-Yuesheng Zhang-Paul Talalay – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC23369/
 The Skinny on Hyperpigmentation
 The Role of Phytonutrients in Skin Health
Julie Evans-Elizabeth Johnson – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3257702/