1. WHAT ARE DARK SPOTS?
Dark spots are caused by irregular melanin production in the skin. The spots range from light brown to black, and have the same texture as the rest of your skin. They are painless and usually show up on sun-exposed areas of the skin.
2. HOW DO DARK SPOTS DEVELOP?
Melanin, which is a pigment found in your skin is the body’s natural way of protecting itself against UV radiation. When exposed to sun light, melanocytes in the lower layer of the epidermis, produce melanin and releases it through branch-like cells called dendrites, to the upper layer of the skin. Melanin absorbs the sunlight and prevents the UV radiation from reaching further into the skin. When the skin is no longer exposed to sunlight, the melanin retracts.
Every time this mechanism is activated, a small trace is left behind, and over time these traces accumulate and create a spot. It is like writing with a pencil on a piece of paper, erasing, and doing this over and over again. It will eventually leave a mark behind.
Additionally, this mechanism becomes less effective with time, which also adds to the accumulation of melanin in one area. There is also a cumulative effect, so damage done in our teens, will catch up with us later in life!
There are different reasons responsible for triggering this process. The most evident culprit is sun exposure. But hormonal imbalance, such as the one experienced during a pregnancy, can also trigger this process. Additionally, different people have a higher or lower melanin synthesis, so the effect will differ from person to person.
3. WHAT CAN I DO TO PREVENT OR REDUCE DARK SPOTS?
The most effective way to prevent discolouration is reducing sun exposure. Over time, extensive sun exposure will result in uneven skin tone and accelerate skin ageing. Therefore, it is crucial to use SPF - especially in sun drenched areas where it is recommended for year round use.
Exfoliation with a product that contains BHA or AHA acids, can also help improve how the skin looks and give a more even skin tone, as it promotes skin cell turnover and removes dead skin cells.
4. ARE THERE ANY SKIN CARE PRODUCTS THAT CAN HELP?
For UV protection I recommend NovAge Day Shield SPF 50 UVA/PA ++++ Advanced Skin Protector. It provides the highest level of UVA protection to shield against harmful rays and skin ageing. It also protects the skin from some of the negative effects of the environment and is intensely moisturising.
5. HOW CAN YOU PREVENT DARK SPOTS FROM OCCURRING IN THE FUTURE?
Avoiding sun exposure, using skin care products that correct skin tone, and exfoliating twice a week will all contribute to a more even skin tone. Invest in high quality products that will treat the concern and look after your skin.
If you live in a sunny place, apart from your SPF, also wear a hat and sunglasses when you are outside. Also, don’t underestimate sitting in an office close to the windows or a cloudy day: you can still get exposed to UV radiation!