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How To Get Rid Of Dark Spots On The Skin

Maya Adivi • May, 2023

How to Get Rid of Dark Spots on the Skin

Maya Adivi • May, 2023

Dark spots on the skin come in many shapes and sizes, and they can pop up just about anywhere. They’re most common on the face, hands, and other body parts that you’d normally want to show the world.

They’re often a consequence of the harsh effects of the sun, while in other cases, they're a lingering reminder of past acne. Regardless of how your dark spots came to be, we know that they can impact your confidence, so we're here to brighten both your skin and your mood.

In this post, we’ll cover everything you need to know to get rid of dark spots. We’ll explain what causes them, and then go over the key treatments often recommended for getting rid of them, including both home remedies and medical treatments. Finally, we’ll cover how to prevent dark spots and answer some of the most commonly asked questions about them.   

Table Of Contents

  • 1.  What Are Dark Spots?
  • 2. How to Get Rid of Dark Spots on the Body
  • 3. Skincare Products for Reducing Dark Spots
  • 4. Medical Treatments for Dark Spots on Face
  • 5. Natural Remedies for Fading Dark Spots on Face
  • 6. Prevention of Dark Spots
  • 7. FAQs: What People Ask About Dark Spots
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What Are Dark Spots? 

Have you ever noticed that new dark spots are more likely to form in summer or after you had a bad breakout?

To understand how to get rid of dark spots, it’s important to know what they are and what causes them. They’re a form of hyperpigmentation that can show up on any person at any age. They’re sometimes also referred to as age spots, sun spots, or liver spots.

Hyperpigmentation is a condition where skin overproduces melanin in certain areas, often as a response to trauma or damage. Small freckles and melasma are also considered forms of hyperpigmentation.

While genetics, age, hormones, medications, and certain health conditions contribute to the formation of dark spots, external factors like sun exposure and inflammation are often heavily involved. Since acne is an inflammatory skin condition, dark spots called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation often show up after a pimple has healed (especially if it was popped first). 

 How to Get Rid of Dark Spots on the Body

Throughout this article, we’ll discuss all the ways to get rid of dark spots on the face and body. But first, here are a few things you should know about dark spots on different body parts. 

  • Dark spots on the face: Normally caused by sun exposure, breakouts, and aging, dark spots on the face are best addressed through a combination of excellent skincare and prevention, although certain medical treatments can also help.
  • Dark spots on the hands: The hands get nearly the same level of sun exposure as the face, but we often forget to protect them, which is what leads to dark spots.
  • Dark knees: The skin over the knees is prone to pigmentation, especially in people of color, perhaps due to increased friction against clothing which can irritate the already dryness-prone skin.
  • Dark spots on legs: These can be caused by age, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation from shaving, or sun exposure. Treatment should focus on practicing gentler hair removal while also dealing with existing dark spots.
  • Black neck: While dark spots on the neck can show up as a result of acne, sun exposure, or ingrown hairs, black neck is a more specific term. It refers to a type of hyperpigmentation that shows up on the back of the neck and often has a black rather than brown tint. It’s often a sign of an underlying health condition - especially insulin resistance and diabetes.
  • Dark underarms: The combination of friction and shaving can lead to irritation that increases hyperpigmentation in the underarm area. In some cases, it can also be a sign of insulin resistance, so you may want to speak to a doctor about it.
  • Dark spots on the butt: Shaving and breakouts are often the main factors at fault behind dark spots on the buttocks.
  • Dark spots on the chest: Dark spots on the chest can often show up due to insufficient sun protection or as a result of chest acne.
  • Dark knuckles: The knuckles can turn dark as a result of sun exposure or genetics, but it can also signal underlying health conditions or deficiencies.
  • Dark inner thighs: Usually, the inner thighs can turn darker as a result of constant rubbing and friction which irritates the skin. The best treatments will prevent friction in the first place while fading the pigmentation.

Skincare Products for Reducing Dark Spots

The best way to start dealing with dark spots is through skincare! The way you renew and protect your skin at home on a daily basis will go a long way toward visibly fading dark marks on your face or body. Here are the fundamental skin-brightening products and ingredients you need in your routine to fade the look of dark spots.

Sunscreen: Daily sunscreen is a must when you’re trying to get rid of dark spots on the face. Exposure to the sun’s UVA and UVB rays is a major factor that leads to pigmentation, so fading them is impossible if you’re not stopping new sun damage at its tracks.

Vitamin C: This health-boosting vitamin is also famous as a skin-brightening agent. Research shows that this powerful antioxidant works by disrupting the underlying process that causes visible dark spots, which is why it can help give the skin a brighter look in the long term. It’s also preventative since it amps up the skin’s defenses and helps boost the protective ability of sunscreen. 

Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs): AHAs like glycolic acid and lactic acid are gentle but highly thorough exfoliants that dislodge rough, dead skin cells from the surface of the skin. By doing this, they effectively get rid of surface damage and help ensure that fresh, healthy skin shows up on the surface faster. This makes them exceptional for fading dark spots, with research showing that using 10% AHA on a daily basis can improve skin tone within just four weeks, including on people with deeper skin tones.

However, there is a risk that formulas with higher percentages of AHAs can irritate the skin, which can make hyperpigmentation worse. That’s why it’s important to stick to gentle glycolic and lactic acid products made for daily use.

Vitamin A: Vitamin A, which often shows up in skincare as retinol, is a unique ingredient that’s most popular for reducing fine lines and skin texture. It’s also promising when it comes to fading dark spots, thanks to its ability to encourage skin renewal, with a fair amount of research showing that it works. Prescription retinoids are usually given for acne, as well, so they can also help to prevent dark spots caused by breakouts.

A Skin Brightening At-Home Regimen

If you’d like to address the dark spots on your skin, you can introduce effective skin-brightening ingredients into your routine easily with our Dark Spot Treatment duo. This two-in-one set features an exfoliating cleanser and deep-penetrating gel infused with glycolic acid, vitamin C, vitamin A, and other skin-boosting botanicals, to help visibly fade dark marks and discoloration while also addressing signs of aging and increasing skin smoothness. 

Medical Treatments for Dark Spots on Face

There are a lot of medical treatments that can fade dark spots quickly, especially if they’re done in conjunction with an at-home skincare routine for dark spots. They’re a little intense, though, and come with some risks, which are important to be aware of. Here are some of the most commonly recommended treatments:

  • Prescription products: A dermatologist can prescribe prescription-strength topical medications like retinoic acid or hydroquinone to fade dark spots. These medications can provide faster results, but may also lead to skin sensitivity or side effects. Some dermatologists recommend only using certain medications (especially hydroquinone) for short periods of time.
  • Chemical peels: Much like topical AHAs, chemical peels can remove surface layers of damaged skin to encourage renewal and a more even skin tone. However, in some cases, irritation because of aggressive chemical peels can make pigmentation worse.
  • Microdermabrasions and dermabrasions: Cosmetic microdermabrasions only remove dead skin from the surface, which can speed up your process of fading dark spots. Medical-grade dermabrasions, however, remove far more skin, forcing your body to generate a new layer of the epidermis, which often eliminates dark spots quickly. That said, the process is painful and the healing process is difficult.
  • Laser treatments: Laser treatments range from mild and minimally invasive to extremely intense with longer downtime. Some work through ablation (the process of removing layers of skin to trigger repair) while others target specific areas to get rid of hyperpigmentation and dark spots.

    Both types of lasers can help with dark spots, but there’s also a lot of room for error. In the hands of a less experienced practitioner, laser treatments can actually damage the skin and lead to the formation of new dark spots, especially in patients with a deeper skin tone. After these treatments, it’s incredibly important to follow a soothing skincare routine in order to help with the healing process and prevent more pigmentation from forming.  

Natural Remedies for Fading Dark Spots on Face

If you’re a fan of natural beauty, you’re in luck - there are a lot of natural extracts that can help to visibly fade dark spots, especially in combination with well-researched ingredients like vitamin A, vitamin C, and glycolic acid.

The best ingredients for the job usually exhibit a skin-soothing effect, helping to keep the skin calm and nourished while reducing the chances of redness. Hyperpigmentation is strongly correlated with inflammation, so these ingredients can offer a protective effect, and they can also reduce the chances of active brightening ingredients from irritating the skin.

Some of the natural extracts most commonly recommended for targeting dark spots include centella asiatica, mulberry, licorice root, soy, onion, and green tea.

However, it’s important to remember that these natural remedies work best when they’re formulated as potent extracts in skincare. Using a serum with licorice and green tea extract can help fade dark spots, but you’re not going to get the same results by rubbing a green tea bag or crushed-up mulberries on your skin since they’re not formulated to penetrate.

Many sources on the internet recommend DIY remedies that could actually make hyperpigmentation worse, which is another thing to keep in mind. For example, face scrubs with baking soda can disrupt your skin’s pH level, leading to irritation that can make hyperpigmentation worse, while lemon juice can make the skin more sensitive to the sun, which can also worsen dark spots (not to mention it can lead to serious sunburns). 

Prevention of Dark Spots

Preventing dark spots is much easier than dealing with them once they’ve already shown up! Here are some of the things you can do to prevent them from cropping up. 

  • Practice good sun safety habits, like wearing sunscreen, hats, and UPF-rated clothing to protect yourself when you’re outside (even on cloudy days) or when standing near large windows.
  • It’s also important that you keep your skin fortified by moisturizing regularly and avoiding harsh or irritating skincare products.
  • If you’re prone to acne, make sure to deal with your breakouts with a gentle routine. Avoid picking or popping pimples, since that increases your risk of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

FAQs: What people ask about Dark Spots

How long does it take to see results from using skincare products to fade dark spots?

Assuming you follow a skin-renewing routine that includes sun protection, exfoliation, and skin renewal, you can expect to see results in as little as 30 days. More dramatic results will take longer to achieve, and also depend on the severity of your hyperpigmentation. 

Can diet affect the appearance of dark spots on the face?

Maintaining a healthy diet might help keep you looking better on the outside, too. It’s possible that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables could increase your skin’s antioxidant defense, potentially helping stave off signs of photoaging. That said, it’s still no replacement for using sunscreen and antioxidant-enriched skincare!

There are also certain nutritional deficiencies that can make you more susceptible to hyperpigmentation. Dark, dry patches in areas of skin folds can be a sign of insulin resistance, which often corresponds with a poor diet. Treating underlying deficiencies and conditions is extremely important, but the best treatments for the pigmentation itself are often still medical or topical. 

Are there any side effects from using medical treatments to fade dark spots on the face?

Yes, there can be, depending on the level of invasiveness of the treatment. Even topical prescription products can lead to skin irritation, photosensitivity, and, in some cases, hypopigmentation. In-clinic treatments like laser or dermabrasion are more intense and can make the skin very sensitive for days or weeks following treatment. 

Can stress and lifestyle habits affect the appearance of dark spots on the face?

Yes, it’s possible. Aside from the lifestyle factors we already mentioned, like sun exposure, smoking can also increase free-radical damage that triggers melanocytes and causes hyperpigmentation. Some research also suggests that an increase in stress hormones can trigger the pigmentary response in the skin, but this hasn’t been well-researched in humans. 

Is it possible to completely remove dark spots on the face?

Yes! While it can be a long process and may require trying a combination of a few different treatments, you can probably remove dark spots completely. Ideally, the best results will come from combining at-home brightening skincare products with clinical or salon treatments. 

Maya Adivi

Maya Adivi is a freelance writer with over a decade of experience working in the beauty industry. Before becoming a writer, she worked as a makeup artist and facialist with expertise in performing a broad range of advanced treatments. She champions an evidence-based approach to beauty, prioritizing real data over buzzwords or myths. She brings that love for science and research when writing for Evertone.

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Maya Adivi

Maya Adivi is a freelance writer with over a decade of experience working in the beauty industry. Before becoming a writer, she worked as a makeup artist and facialist with expertise in performing a broad range of advanced treatments. She champions an evidence-based approach to beauty, prioritizing real data over buzzwords or myths. She brings that love for science and research when writing for Evertone.