Dark spots, signs of ageing, hyperpigmentation – we are quite familiar with these terms thanks to the abundant advertising that we come across every day. One of the downfalls of living in the Gulf region where temperatures soar above 50°C(122°F) during the peak of summer is the extensive sun exposure that we endure.
So how do we recognize early signs and protect ourselves?
Pigmentation is a result of the deep penetration of UVA rays into the skin, which causes an overproduction of Melanincausing skin to look aged, have an uneven tone and develop dark patches or spots around the face, neck, shoulders and arms. These changes to your skin are not a result of a few years of exposure, but they are known to start showing after 10-20 years of skin damage.
Moreover, causes of pigmentation extend beyond sun-related harm. ‘Melasma’ or the mask of pregnancy is a common skin problem that is triggered due to hormonal imbalances during pregnancy. Another reason could be ‘postinflammatory pigmentation’. This is a temporary form of pigmentation that occurs post-injury or as a result of inflammatory skin disorders.
The most primary form of protection is to apply an SPF 30 or 50 every single time you’re stepping out of the house. Ensure that your children are also using sunscreen as this can protect their skin from a young age from strong UVA rays.
Although there are abundant dermatological treatments for hyperpigmentation, below are some tried and tested home remediesto treat hyperpigmentation and signs of ageing:
● Apple Cider Vinegar: Adding to its already long list of benefits, our favouriteApple Cider Vinegar’s acidic nature makes it a great exfoliate, leaving the skin soft and dewy.
Mix 1 tbsp of Apple Cider Vinegar with 2 tbsp of water. Apply the mixture to affected areas.
Rinse with lukewarm water after 5 minutes of application. Repeat twice a day until you startto notice results.
● Aloe Vera: There’s no shying away from the fact that Aloe Vera gel is an excellent remedy for multiple hair and skin problems. Aloe Vera is available quite easily from plant nurseries and is low maintenance as well. Simply cut a thick leaf from the plant and scoop out the gel from inside. Apply it to your face and let it sit for 10-15 minutes. Not only with the gel calm down irritated skin but the active ingredient Aloin will lighten your skin. Repeat this process 2-3 times a week.
● Raw Potato: Potato is a delicious vegetable but it’s good not just for your body but also your skin. The enzyme called catecholase, which potatoes possess in abundance, slows down and restricts the production of pigments in certain areas.
Slice a raw potato in half and add a few drops of water to the two pieces. Rub in circular motions on the affected area for 3-4 minutes. Rinse with lukewarm water. You should be able to start seeing visible results in a month’s time.
● Papaya: Papayas contain an enzyme called ‘Papain’, which is the key exfoliatorand helps break down the pigmentation on your skin. To make the most out of this fruit, grate medium-sized papaya and squeeze as much juice as you can. Apply the juice to the affected areas and keep it on for 10-15 minutes. Repeat daily until you start to notice visible changes.
● Red Onions: Smelly, I know – but red onions contain a heap of Vitamin C which is a great antioxidant so it’s right on the money for those dark spots.
Cut a slice of the red onion and rub it on the spotted areas. Wash off with lukewarm waterafter 10 minutes. Repeat twice a day for best results.
● Lemon juice: A widely known fact, citric acid acts a great all-natural bleach. Slice a lemon in half and rub it over your skin and rinse it after 10-15 minutes. Not only will your skin feel freshened but you will see a visible difference after repeated use.
One thing that needs to be highlighted here is that whether natural or medicinal, only consistent use will start to show results. Repairing and reversing skin damage isn’t easy, especially with hyperpigmentation which is a result of years of unprotected sun exposure.
Apart from natural remedies, there are also multiple products available in the market to treat hyperpigmentation, lighten and even skin tone. Remember to select a product that suits your skin type (dry, sensitive, combination, oily etc.). Some available treatments that have received great reviews for hyperpigmentation are:
● Zeta White: Zeta White is a gentle but powerful skin lightening system. It is a safe and tested alternative to harsh bleaching creams and is formulated with a carefully developed blend of natural, yet highly effective, skin lightening ingredients. Its3-point lightening system consists of a face wash, a moisturizer and a night cream for a well-rounded experience (click here for a full review)
● The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%: This brightening gel formula packs a punch when it comes to treated pigmentation and blemishes. With its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, it is known to treat pigmentation and even out the skin tone, which fighting blemishes at its core.
● Shiseido MicroTargeting Spot Corrector (Serum): This intensive anti-spot serum helps diminish the appearance of dark spots and hyperpigmentation. Based on a study conducted by Shiseido, in a span of 12 weeks, 81% of consumers felt the serum was superior in reducing scattered dark spots than spot removal lasers.
Regardless of which direction you decide to go - natural or cosmetic - the first step towards combating dark spots and pigmentation is to use a sunscreen whenever you step out. Even if you might think that its just a light, sunny day - wear a sunscreen and make sure that your family is well protected too!
Sonia Knight is the editor and founder of Be:Skinformed, a website dedicated to skincare and skin discolouration. She loves writing about beauty, wellness and skincare. She has a certified post-graduate diploma, Dermatology in Clinical Practice from the University of Wales, UK.