Discolouration, dark spots, hyperpigmentation. Regardless of the form it takes, uneven skin tone dulls the brilliance and radiance of your complexion, making you and your skin appear older. The good news is, there are plenty of ways to repair your healthy, youthful glow. By incorporating these 5 ingredients to brighten skin into your regular skincare routine, you’ll be able to see improvements to uneven skin tone in a matter of weeks.
At the core of uneven skin tone is the uneven distribution or overproduction of melanin. Melanin is the pigment responsible for hair and skin color. When our body produces too much of it, or doesn’t distribute it evenly throughout our skin, the result is everything from age spots to hyperpigmentation. There are four main causes of uneven skin tone:
UV rays emitted from the sun or tanning beds are the most common cause of uneven skin tone and hyperpigmentation. When your skin is exposed to UV rays, your body is prompted to produce melanin, which is intended to absorb the UV and protect the skin from being damaged. However, when your skin is repeatedly exposed to UV rays, your body often produces too much melanin. This is how sun damage occurs in the form of sun spots, discoloration and hyperpigmentation.
Free radical damage
Your body is constantly exposed to free radicals generated by the sun, pollution, poor diet, smoking, alcohol and even some medications. When those free radicals combine with oxygen and are greater than the body’s ability to detoxify them, oxidative stress occurs. Oxidative stress causes uneven skin tone and texture as well as premature skin aging, particularly on the face and neck.
Hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy, or as a result of taking contraceptives, can cause uneven skin tone. Melasma, for example, is hormone-related hyperpigmentation. The body sometimes reacts to changes in hormone levels by increasing melanin production, specifically in the cheeks, chin and forehead. Some medications, like steroids, can also cause these changes in the body.
There are many reasons why our skin may become inflamed, including: acne, chemical peels, skin injuries and lesions or blemishes. Sometimes, after inflammation has subsided and our body starts the healing process, too much melanin is produced to replace that which was lost. This can result in a darkening of the skin in the form of scars and other dark spots.
For every skin problem, there is a skin-restoring solution. Whether you’re looking for prevention or treatment, these 5 ingredients work miracles on uneven skin tone.
A natural ingredient that is derived from fungi and is also created as a by-product of the popular Japanese rice wine sake, kojic acid is one of the most popular skin brightening agents in the world. Kojic acid is not only an antioxidant that prevents free radicals and the potential for oxidative stress, it also works to combat uneven skin tone by inhibiting an enzyme called tyrosinase. Tyrosinase is responsible for stimulating the production of melanin. By preventing the catecholase function of tyrosinase, kojic acid prevents your body from overproducing melanin.
Kojic acid works best on age spots and any brown or grey areas caused by melasma. It starts working within 3 months of regular use but, If you have a darker skin tone, you might need to give kojic acid a bit more time to work its magic.
Read this in depth product review article to learn more about Kojic acid and what it does.
One of the most well-rounded ingredients on our list, vitamin C works as both a preventative measure and a treatment for uneven skin tone. In terms of its preventative properties, vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that neutralizes your skin from the damaging effects of free radicals. It also blocks tyrosinase to prevent discoloration from occurring.
As a treatment, vitamin C combats uneven skin tone by mildly exfoliating the top layers of the skin, encouraging cell regeneration and allowing the fresh, bright layers underneath to shine through. What is unique to vitamin C though, is the way in which it stimulates the production of glutathione and vitamin E. In so doing, it allows the body to form pheomelanin – a pigment that replaces the eumelanin responsible for discoloration.
Using a serum or cream that is rich in vitamin C can have brightening effects on your skin with just 4 weeks of use.
Believe it or not, you can start to brighten your skin with an ingredient you already have in your fridge. Yogurt is not only completely natural and safe to use, it only takes 4 or 5 weekly treatments to generate positive effects on skin tone.
Yogurt contains natural bleaching agents. These bleaching agents lighten discoloration and gently exfoliate the skin to encourage new skin cells to replace the old. Yogurt also contains high amounts of lactic acid – an oft-used ingredient in various skincare products. Like vitamin C and kojic acid, lactic acid inhibits the production of tyrosinase and stops the body from overproducing melanin.
To make a yogurt mask, all you need is one tablespoon of plain yogurt and one tablespoon of water. After mixing the two, spread it evenly over your face and neck. Let the mask sit for 30 minutes and rinse with water. You’ll notice brighter, more even skin tone over a period of 3 to 4 weeks.
Skincare really doesn’t get any more natural than raw fruit, does it? Rather than purchasing off-the-shelf products that contain papaya, you can opt to use the fruit itself.
Packed with vitamins A and C, raw papaya restores skin tone and texture by fighting free radical damage and preventing potential damage caused by the sun. Papaya also contains high amounts of papain, a naturally-occurring enzyme that encourages cell regeneration by breaking down inactive proteins on the skins surface. This exfoliating enzyme will help peel away dead, discolored skin cells to restore your natural skin tone.
Using papaya is easy, too! Rub the fruit side of the peel into your face, neck and hands and allow it to sit for five minutes. Rinse the papaya with cool water and voila! You’ve got a skin brightening “face mask” that’s as natural as it gets.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is an all-around miracle worker for your body inside and out. When used topically, it can brighten discolored skin and prevent further discoloration.
As a preventative, ACV soothes inflammation and aids the healing process that often leads to discolored scarring. Because it contains high amounts of glycol and works to tighten your pores, it works wonders for cleansing and preventing breakouts that can lead to damaged and scarred skin. ACV also has a high acidic content that exfoliates the skin thoroughly, maintains the natural balance of sebum and restores your skin’s pH. Why is pH so important? The skin needs to be slightly acidic to defend against breakouts and blemishes that can lead to damaged skin cells, discoloration and scarring.
It’s important not to use ACV directly on the skin. Instead, mix one-part ACV with two-parts water. For a little extra treatment, add a couple of drops of tea tree oil. After a short adjustment period, you’ll start to notice brightening with 1 to 3, with better results the longer it is used.
Whether you suffer from age spots, hyperpigmentation, sun damage or mild discoloration, there are a host of ingredients that can help brighten your skin and restore your complexion. What’s even better is that many of these ingredients are naturally-occurring, so they are safe to use for prolonged periods of time and they won’t have any adverse side effects. Add to that the fact that any one of these 5 ingredients will give you results in just weeks, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a healthy glow.