A bright, even complexion can be hard to come by – especially as unwelcome dark spots begin to show up on the skin. These spots can show up anywhere, but they tend to be more prominent on skin that gets a lot of sun exposure, like the face, hands, neck, and decolletage.
You see, when the skin is exposed to the sun, it increases the activity of cells known as “melanocytes.”
These melanocytes are what gives skin its pigment.
Melanocytes increase their activity during sun exposure in an attempt to protect skin from any potential damage caused by UV rays. This increased activity is what causes tanning. But over time, this increased melanocyte activity can result in permanently uneven pigmentation – or brown spots.1
Of course, sun exposure isn’t the only culprit when it comes to hyperpigmentation. Hormonal changes and acne scars also have the potential to leave dark spots on the complexion.2
Whatever the cause, there are things you can do to prevent and fade brown spots.
Here Are 3 DIY Dark Spot Remedies You Can Try:
1. Buttermilk, Strawberry, and Honey Mask
This remedy is oh-so-sweet and nourishing. Buttermilk contains lactic acid – an alpha-hydroxy acid that works to chemically exfoliate the skin.3,4 And yes, this exfoliation comes with skin-lightening benefits as well. Studies have shown that lactic acid – when combined with vitamin C – may help fade hyperpigmentation.5
In this mask, the buttermilk is combined with vitamin C-rich strawberries and the moisturizing benefits of honey.
To make this mask, blend a small handful of strawberries with ½ cup buttermilk and a tablespoon of honey. Apply to affected areas, and let it absorb for 20 minutes. Rinse clean. Yes, it’s a tad messy – but it’s worth it. (And, totally looks like a strawberry milkshake!)
2. Evening Primrose Oil
Here’s another good oil you can put to use. Evening primrose oil is pressed from the evening primrose flower, which is native to North and South America. This oil has numerous potential benefits for the skin, thanks to the presence of linolenic acids. These acids can boost hydration, alleviate itchiness, and help improve skin texture.6,7,8
Not only that – studies have shown that this oil may help prevent the development of age spots caused by UV rays.9
To help prevent age spots, apply evening primrose oil to the skin before bed.
3. Aloe Vera
You’ve probably used aloe vera at one time or another to soothe a sunburn. But the skin benefits of aloe extend far beyond the relief it provides for red, sensitive skin.
It turns out that aloe vera contains salicylic acid. You’re probably somewhat familiar with salicylic acid – it’s often used as an ingredient in skincare products to help prevent clogged pores and acne breakouts.
But the potential benefits of salicylic acid for the skin don’t stop at clogged pores and acne. The salicylic acid found in aloe vera is actually helpful long after you’ve stopped breaking out. Studies have shown that topical application of salicylic acid can help lighten leftover hyperpigmentation caused by acne.10,11
So if you’re dealing with acne scars and dark spots, go ahead and apply a thin layer of aloe vera to the affected areas. Let your skin absorb the aloe for about an hour, then rinse with lukewarm water.
Avoid This One
The internet offers up plenty of DIY remedies to fade dark spots — but some of them can actually be harmful to your skin. Here’s one popular remedy to steer clear of:
Lemon has long been used as a folk remedy to fade dark spots. Now, the theory behind this has a lot to do with the high vitamin C content in lemons. Vitamin C helps lighten dark spots by interrupting an enzyme called tyrosinase, which stimulates melanin production.12
But just because something contains vitamin C doesn’t mean you should put it on your skin. This is especially the case with lemons, which are really acidic. Anything below a pH value of 7 is considered acidic. Lemons? They clock in somewhere between 2 and 3.
Now, your skin is also acidic. In fact, the topmost layer of your skin is covered with a very thin acidic film – this is known as the “acid mantle.” But this acid mantle only measures in at a pH value of about 5.5. And the thing is, you want to keep your skin’s acid level very near to this pH value. The skin’s acid mantle helps strengthen your skin barrier.13
The skin barrier is responsible for keeping moisture and nutrients in and keeping foreign invaders like pollution, dirt, and microbes out. And when your acid mantle and skin barrier are disrupted, it can result in skin irritation, itchiness, dryness, and even breakouts.14,15
Play It Safe
If you want a good dark spot remedy without the risk of irritation to your skin barrier, find a cosmetic treatment that’s specifically formulated for this purpose. Formulations that contain vitamin C and niacinamide are superstars when it comes to removing dark spots.
Now, you’re already aware that vitamin C can help prevent the appearance of dark spots by interrupting the production of pigment – so it’s an essential ingredient in any skin-lightening formula. Vitamin C also has the added benefit of encouraging collagen production, which can help diminish darkness and scars caused by acne.16,17
And niacinamide – which is also known as vitamin B3 – can take the skin-lightening process even further. Studies have found that skin hyperpigmentation is significantly reduced after four weeks of niacinamide application.18
So, if you’re looking for radical results that will reduce the appearance of dark spots without irritation, try a formulation that contains both vitamin C and niacinamide.
Good Riddance To Dark Spots
Sun exposure, hormonal changes, and acne scars can all contribute to the development of dark spots on the skin. But a bright, even complexion doesn’t have to be a lost cause. Try these remedies to help fade dark spots and get back to glowing skin.