I’ve received requests to address the problem of uneven skin/complexion – what causes it and how can it be fixed?
An uneven skin tone is the result of an over-production of melanin. Melanin is what gives skin and hair its color, helps protect skin against damaging UV light and absorbs heat from the sun. However, an overproduction of melanin stimulated by excessive sun exposure, hormones, or scarring, leads to uneven skin tone.
1) Sun exposure: When skin is repeatedly exposed to UV light, sun damage occurs. Brown spots appear as a result of too much melanin being produced to help protect skin from UV light.
2) Hormones: Melasma is hormone-related hyperpigmentation caused by increased hormone stimulation. It is most commonly experienced by women who are pregnant (which is why it’s also known as the “mask of pregnancy”) or taking contraceptives, but can also be a reaction to cosmetics or medications.
3) Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation: This is a darkening of skin that’s the result of scarring, which can be caused by acne lesions or skin injury. (So, don’t pick at those pimples! It leads to scarring and dark spots!)
What did I do to deal with hyperpigmentation? I’ve found that using a sunscreen EVERY DAY, regardless of whether the sun was out or not, helped my dark spots to fade faster. Here is the thing – the dark spots from acne scars, hormones, etc., WILL fade on their own BUT – the sun can cause them to darken and prolong the natural fading process. Using a sunscreen everyday helps with that. My fave: Aveeno Positively Radiant Moisturizer SPF 15 or Essential-C Day Moisture Broad Spectrum SPF 30 | PA+++ by Murad.
It helps to exfoliate twice a week to remove dead skin cell buildup (see my previous post on exfoliation) and help products (like that sunscreen) to penetrate better. Don’t over do it! You can use either a chemical exfoliant (contains enzymes to dissolve the dead skin cells and then you rinse off after 10-15 minutes) or manual/physical exfoliant (contains tiny granules that you rub on your skin – like a scrub – in circular motions, then rinse).
I can’t stress enough – don’t pick at blemishes. They will go away on their own (usually in 2-3 days) – picking them aggravates them and can lead to scarring and uneven skin. You don’t want that. If you want blemishes extracted, see a professional like an esthetician. They have techniques to extract them without causing scarring or dark marks.
A good skin care regimen is essential. I don’t generally like drugstore brands only because the best ingredients aren’t used due to the mass production, but if you must, Aveeno is a good brand. Other brands I like are the It Works! Skincare line, Murad, and GM Collin (do a google search on the last 2 for where to purchase). I wear makeup almost everyday – but contrary to popular belief it doesn’t “mess up” your skin! Not taking care of your skin will do that. I always wash my face before bed. No exceptions. I also shampoo all makeup brushes weekly and in between washes I disinfect them using a brush spray from Sephora.
I hope this helps, but feel free to comment with additional questions and I’ll be sure to help where I can.