|Whether they’re age spots, old acne marks, melasma, freckles, or patches of unevenness, dark spots are definitely a cosmetic no-no. Read on to learn how to put the ban on brown spots.|
Everyone knows that having clear, smooth, and even skin tone is a universal sign of overall health and well-being. Whether they’re age spots, old acne marks, melasma, freckles, or patches of unevenness, dark spots are definitely a cosmetic no-no. The skin lightening industry currently spans the globe, and world-wide obsession with fairness has not faded over time. But not to worry- basic knowledge skin color and how specific ingredients work are all you need to reclaim a clear, glowing complexion. Read on to learn how to put the ban on brown spots.
Tyrosinase, The Enzyme Behind The Dark Skin. What causes discolorations and uneven skin tone? There is more than one cause for dark spots, but all point to an important compound in the skin: tyrosinase. Tyrosinase is an enzyme found in skin cells and is responsible for synthesis of melanin, which is what determines the color of skin and hair.
The greater the activity of tyrosinase, the more melanin is produced, and the darker skin and hair will be.
Therefore if the activity of tyrosinase is inhibited, so is the production of melanin.
So what causes the body to (over)produce tyrosinase and melanin?
• Sun damage
• Hormonal imbalances due to birth control, pregnancy, or estrogen replacement therapy
• The body’s response to inflammation (post-acne marks, scabs, blisters, friction)
Skin Lightening Compounds. Confused by all the products out there that promise porcelain skin? Whatever compound, or combination of compounds you choose to help with skin discolorations, it’s very important to research them thoroughly. Remember that each person’s biology is different, and what may work in one will tend to have disparate results in another. Here are some of the most common skin lightening compounds aimed at fading dark spots.
Hydroquinone. Most popular among over-the-counter skin lightening products, hydroquinone is often found in a 2% concentration. Higher concentrations (4% and above) are available only by prescription. There may be information out there referencing its safety on the skin, but current research indicates that severe hydroquinone reactions are only resultant of extremely high concentrations. According to the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, it is is one of the most active and safest skin depigmenting substances. Keep in mind that hydroquinone can be an unstable ingredient in skincare products, and exposure to air and light may alter its effectiveness. HQ products packaged in jars are not recommended since they degrade quickly upon opening.
Found in: Obagi Nu-Derm System 4% Hydroquinone (www.obagi.com)