One of the most frustrating aspects of skincare can be the after-effects of conditions like acne, which can lead to dryness, scarring, and discoloration. What exactly is discoloration, anyway? Sometimes known as dark spots, scars, age spots, sun spots, or other terms discoloration is simply defined as areas of your skin that are a different color or pigment as a result of another skin condition. More technically, discoloration is caused by the overproduction of melanin in the skin.
What are the different causes of discoloration or hyperpigmentation?
There are many different causes of discoloration of the skin, including sun exposure, skin injury (such as picking at blemishes), skin inflammation, age, and hormones.
Sun Exposure: Spending too much time in the sun is one of the most common causes of discoloration of the skin, as the sun’s rays are known to trigger the production of melanin in the skin. Many people enjoy soaking in the sun’s rays, as the production of melanin leads to a glowing tan, but it’s important to wear sunscreen each time you’re outside to avoid excessive sun exposure that can lead to sun and age spots.
Skin Injury or Inflammation: This can occur when your skin goes through some sort of trauma, like popping or picking at a blemish. As the wound heals, the skin is left darkened or discolored. This can also happen as a result of cuts, burns, psoriasis, or other conditions.
Age: Along with other skin conditions, as we age, our melanin-producing cells decrease, but the few that remain tend to grow in size and stay focused in one area, leading to discoloration and hyperpigmentation. This is one of the causes that is harder to prevent, but there are things you can do, as we’ll outline below.
Hormones: Fluctuating hormone levels cause a specific type of hyperpigmentation known as melasma, and occurs when hormones in the body stimulate the overproduction of melanin in the skin leading to discoloration on parts of the skin.
What can you do to treat and prevent discoloration?
Since hydroquinone is no longer available over the counter, we’re lining up some natural alternatives you can use to brighten current discoloration and prevent future pigmentation from happening.
Lactic Acid: Lactic acid is a type of alpha-hydroxy acid, meaning it works to chemically exfoliate the skin from the inside out. It’s able to penetrate deep into the skin for mild and gentle exfoliation, making it a great ingredient for those with sensitive or easily irritated skin. It’s also known to work to suppress the overproduction of melanin in the skin, making it an ideal ingredient for treating discoloration. Add lactic acid into your routine with the PCA Skin Nutrient Toner, formulated with lactic acid and other natural extracts to gently exfoliate the skin, leading to a brighter complexion.
Kojic Acid: Kojic acid is an ingredient derived from a fungus, but don’t let that scare you-it works to prohibit the production of melanin in the skin by diving deep into the layers of the skin. In addition, it acts as an antioxidant, helping to protect your skin from free radicals that can cause further damage to the skin. On top of that, it’s known to have anti-inflammatory properties, making it a great ingredient for those with inflamed or irritated skin. The PCA Skin Pigment Bar and Pigment Gel both contain kojic acid, along with azelaic acid to brighten and even out skin tone without stripping or damaging the skin.
Vitamin C: Vitamin C is one of the most beloved ingredients in the skincare market today for its ability to treat multiple skincare concerns. Vitamin C is known to slow the overproduction of melanin in the skin, working to fade dark spots and discoloration, especially for post-acne marks. It’s well-known for being an antioxidant to protect your skin from free radicals and allows for mild exfoliation of dead skin cells. The Revision Skincare Vitamin C Serum 30% contains a high concentration of Vitamin C to brighten skin and help with anti-aging. Additionally, the Allies of Skin 35% Vitamin C Perfecting Serum works to not only brighten the skin but to boost collagen production and protect the skin against damage.
Arbutin: You may have heard of arbutin as hydroquinone’s more gentle and natural alternative. It prevents the creation of melanin in the skin, helping to fade and prevent hyperpigmentation and discoloration. The active component in arbutin is also released slowly when used, making it a great option for those with sensitive skin. It works to improve an uneven complexion and is gentle enough for any skin type. The iS Clinical Super Serum Advance contains not only arbutin, but also Vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, peptides, and other extracts to safely and gently brighten skin while keeping it smooth and hydrated.
The bottom line: Be sure you’re always using sunscreen to prevent further damage to your skin and discoloration, and be consistent with your routine to see results.