If you have hyperpigmentation spots due to breakouts and sun exposure, the good news is you’re not stuck with them forever. Follow the tips below and you’ll start to notice the diminish appearance of dark spots in as quickly as four weeks and prevent new spots from cropping up. Read on for your spot-fading game plan.
1. Do Not (I Repeat, Do Not) Pick That Zit
Yes, it’s hard to resist. But if you’ve given into temptation in the past, you know the ugly aftermath: a red or brown mark that could scar your face forever. Instead, treat your marks with a 1% hydrocortisone cream 4 times a day (you can pick up a tube at any drugstore). Apply it around the same time every day. Hydrocortisone is an anti-inflammatory, so it’ll soothe redness and swelling. It’s better than traditional zit zappers that use salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide to dry out pimples, which can potentially dry out your skin and lead to more irritation. Want a more natural safe alternative? Try Aloe Vera, Baking Soda, Coconut Oil, Cucumber, Honey, Lemon, Potato Juice, Rose Hip Seed Oil, Sugar Scrub, and Vitamin E. After that, put Visine on the pimple to make it look less obvious for a few hours. Want to speed things up? Use a clay mask. Popping the sucker can damage skin tissue and make your pimple a lot worst.
2. Use a Skin-Cleansing Brush/Pad
Using a powered cleansing brush or facial cleaning pad every two days not only cleanses your skin more deeply than your fingertips can, it also gently gets rid of dull, dead skin cells that can sit on your skin. Sloughing away dead cells also removes the top layer of skin that’s ready to be exfoliated away, making your skin better able to absorb the spot treatment you’ll apply to eradicate any brown spots from past breakouts or overexposure to the sun. Just remember to take good care of your brush head, washing it after each use and swapping it for a new one every month.
3. Treat Your Trouble Spots
Spots, whether from your handiwork (i.e. picking your skin) or the sun, take weeks to fade. So, while treating existing hyperpigmentation, make sure you’re also taking steps to prevent spots from forming by keeping your face clean. Whether or not you have acne, it’s important to wash your face twice daily to remove impurities, dead skin cells, and extra oil from your skins’ surface. Use warm water ( not hot water) and a mild facial cleanser. Always dry your face with a clean towel but I normally just let my face air dry for better protection.
Many acne products contain ingredients that dry out the skin. Look for “noncomedogenic” on the label, which means it should not cause acne. There are moisturizers made for oily, dry, or combination skin. I use Aveeno Active Naturals positively radiant daily cleansing pads, Ponds Clarant B3 Dark Spot Correcting Cream, L’Oréal Paris go 360 Clean Ideal Clean Deep Cleansing Exfoliating Scrub, and the Skinutritions Age Defy Ultimate Dark Spot Corrector. They are available at your local stores/ drugstore. For lotion, I either use Aveeno creamy moisturizing oil, Aveeno skin relief moisture repair cream, or coconut oil.
During a breakout, try to avoid wearing foundation, powder, or blush. If you do wear makeup, wash it off at the end of the day. If possible, please try to choose oil-free cosmetics without added dyes and chemicals. Choose makeup that is labeled as “noncomedogenic”, meaning it should not cause any acne. Watch what you put into your hair because if they get on your face, they can block your pores and irritate your skin. Oily hair can add to the oil on your face, so wash your hair often, especially if you are breaking out. Got long hair? Keep it pulled away from your face.
Keep your hands off your face because that’s one of the ways bacteria can spread . Never pick or pop pimples with your fingers, as it can lead to infection and scarring. Try to feed your skin with more fruits and vegetables and whole grains to your “diet”. Also, try to stress less because that can cause breakage.
4. Fade Spots Fast With a Retinoid
Retinoids are a powerful form of vitamin A proven to speed up cell turnover, which helps erase spots faster. (Bonus: The vitamin also helps your skin produce more collagen, which helps your complexion looks smoother and diminishes the appearance of fine lines.) The most potent form is retinoic acid, which is only available through a prescription from your dermatologist, although it might cause slight irritation and flaking. It also costs about $150, though your insurance may cover it depending on your plan.
If you don’t have $150 to shell out on the regular, you can opt for the over-the-counter form, retinol, at any drugstore. The milder version offers similar results and minimizes the chance of redness or flaking. Regardless of the retinoid your derm recommends, start out using it once a week and then build the usage from there to ensure your skin stays calm. And then use your skin-brightening cream, like Olay Luminous Tone Perfecting Cream Moisturizer, on the other nights.
5. Wear SPF Daily
If there’s only one thing you do, make it this: Use broad-spectrum SPF 30 or higher daily, a guideline recommended by the American Academy of Dermatology. Not only does it help prevent skin cancer, it protects your skin from harmful UV rays, the culprit behind most dark spots. In response to the sun’s UV rays, our cells send out protective pigment (or melanin) to naturally keep your skin from getting burned. This is what you know to be a “tan,” but it’s really your skin trying to protect itself. You might be into your glowing bronze color, but deep in the layers of your skin, the damage has occurred and will later surface in as tiny brown spots (aka freckles). To keep your skin brown spot-free, don’t skip the SPF! I use the Aveeno protect + hydrate lotion sunscreen daily even if I don’t go outside.