In our teens and twenties, sun damage and dark spots often seem like a distant future. But the lackadaisical application of sunscreen and the careless hours spent under the sun can rear its ugly head as we enter our thirties and head into the forties. And the thing is pigmentation (or hyperpigmentation) can also be caused by other factors besides overexposure to the sun; it can result from hormonal changes (such as from a pregnancy), scarring from an injury or from acne breakouts (known as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation), discolouration caused by allergic reactions or they could simply be hereditary. These freckles, dark spots and skin discolourations can range from the minor to the very severe. They can happen over time or can appear practically overnight. While they are usually harmless, their presence can affect one’s self-esteem and confidence levels, making some sufferers feel terribly self-conscious and lead them to avoid social events.
One way to address this issue is by using colour-correcting makeup and concealers. But concealers may not be an effective solution for any and all situations (e.g., when you are swimming or participating in any other aerobic activity). And it would certainly be nice to be able to go out bare-faced into the world with nary a care, and not have to spend all that extra time getting your face ready. What are the options? First, prevention is key. To avoid more hyperpigmentation resulting from sun damage, be religious about sunscreen application. Second, look into skincare products on the market that specifically target hyperpigmentation. Third, some may want to consider taking the plunge and signing up for laser treatments at a reputable centre to get back smooth and flawless skin. But for those who prefer something that is less harsh, there are many natural (and affordable) remedies that you can try at home, which may help to even out skin tone and reduce signs of hyperpigmentation.
Note. Always do a spot test to check for any negative skin reactions before attempting any suggested remedies on a large area of skin.
Potatoes are not just meant for french fries and mashed potatoes; it turns out they are great for your skin, too. The enzyme catecholase in potatoes can inhibit the overproduction of melanin and is very effective for lightening dark spots on the skin. Simply take a slice of raw potato and rub on the affected skin, using a circular motion, for about 3–5 minutes. Let the juices sit for an additional five or so minutes and then rinse off well with warm water. If possible, do this three times a day. Also good for dark undereye circles.
This sunny goodness is rich in vitamin C and antioxidants. The citric acid in lemon delivers a natural bleaching effect and can lighten pigmentation and even out your skin tone. Take a slice of lemon and gently dab it on the affected areas. If you have time or want to pamper yourself, mix up a facial masque consisting of lemon and honey. How often? Preferably twice a day.
The lactic acid in yoghurt helps your skin to shed dead skin cells as well as diminish or lighten skin pigmentation. Take about one tablespoon of yoghurt (plain and full-fat) and apply directly to the desired area. Let sit for about 20 minutes and then rinse off with warm water. Do this three times a week.
This ultra-healing plant is great for soothing cuts and bruises, eczema and sunburns. It’s no surprise that aloe can also help to repair sun damage and reduce hyperpigmentation. Take the aloe vera straight from the plant or pick up pure aloe vera gel from your nearest pharmacy and administer gently to skin. Leave on for about 20 minutes before removing with lukewarm water. Apply it once weekly.
For centuries, turmeric has been used by Asians, particularly Indians, for centuries because of its many medicinal properties. Not only can this yellow spice help to lighten skin pigmentation, but it is also effective for regulating the skin’s pH balance. To apply on your skin, you can mix turmeric powder with some honey or lemon (both of which also have skin-lightening properties) to make a simple paste. Apply to the affected areas and relax. Rinse off thoroughly after about 15 minutes or so. This treatment can be done once a day.
Cucumbers can not only help with hyperpigmentation, but they can also serve as a skin-calming and hydrating treatment as well as an effective pimple treatment. Whisk well the juice of cucumber and lemon along with some honey. Apply this simple masque wherever it is needed for a few minutes before rinsing off well. Alternatively, thinly slice circular pieces of cucumber and lay them all over your face; place another couple over your eyes to help depuff and lighten up undereye circles. Take a cat nap and wake to a calm, hydrated and glowing visage.