Even with the fall calendar in full swing, memories of the last vacation tend to stick around. Whether it’s freckles, mottled melasma, or post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, these dark spots are often exacerbated by sunlight, which can both trigger the formation of new discoloration and deepen it. that already exists. This is where the best dark spot correctors can help.
First, there are age spots, which result from overexposure to UV rays – think of them as visible signs of sun damage. For this reason, you will often see them on the face, neck, chest, forearms, and hands, which are most often exposed to the sun. Meanwhile, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, or PIH, can occur in response to marks triggered by an injury, whether it’s a mosquito bite or a blemish.
Finally, melasma can be the most upsetting of the three. âMelasma is a type of hyperpigmentation or darker discoloration that can occur due to hormonal influences or chronic sun exposure,â says a Manhattan-based dermatologist. Ryan Turner, MARYLAND
People of color are disproportionately vulnerable to hyperpigmentation simply because they have more melanin, or pigment, in their skin. “We all have the same number of melanocytes, but darker skin types have more melanosomes and therefore more melanin which can leak with trauma,” explains Michelle Henri, MD, dermatologist in New York. (Melanocytes are the cells that produce melanin, while melanosomes are the small organelles that store said melanin.)
Although many dark spots eventually fade on their own, “it can take weeks or even months to go away, and some types of hyperpigmentation can be semi-permanent and require in-office treatment,” explains Turner. But a date is not the only way forward. Intervention with topical ingredients can often speed up the repair process and even inhibit the overdevelopment of the pigment before it begins, ultimately smothering future dark spots.
Vitamin C is the best known of them. âIt works by blocking an enzyme called tyrosinase, which is necessary for the production of melanin,â says Turner. The same goes for arbutin, kojic acid, licorice extract, and azelaic acid, which are commonly found in dark spot correctors. Newer on the scene is tranexamic acid, which has been used in the medical field and has recently found new life as a skin care ingredient; it works by preventing a separate interaction between skin cells and melanocytes, thereby reducing pigment production. The science is promising: Research shows that it is comparable to hydroquinone, which was once the gold standard for treating hyperpigmentation, but has fallen out of favor due to safety concerns.
Finally, niacinamide can also even out skin tone. âIt inhibits the transfer of melanin to skin cells. So it’s a slightly different mechanism, which is why there is a good synergy between niacinamide and the other ingredients, âexplains Henry. “They are blocking several lanes.”
Targeting these multiple pathways is essential for treating all forms of hyperpigmentation, but especially melasma, which is notoriously stubborn – Henry calls it “pernicious”. Since this is usually a chronic problem, the treatment is “usually a combination of tyrosinase inhibitors and some kind of exfoliating product, so that we can get deeper penetration,” she explains. .
This is also the strategy behind many dark spot correctors, which typically combine ingredients that work in tandem. Also, keep in mind that sunscreen is also non-negotiable; Since the sun is a primary factor in the development of hyperpigmentation, going without adequate protection will only defeat all efforts. With the right SPF and the right spot treatment, you’ll be on your way to clearer, more even skin.