what causes dark spots

What Are Dark Spots?

Dark spots — aka, age spots, sun spots and liver spots — are flat tan, brown or black spots that appear on your face and on areas of your body that are most exposed to the sun.

What Causes Dark Spots?

Dark spots are mostly caused by melanocyte activity. Melanocytes are melanin-producing cells located in the bottom layer of the skin's epidermis. Melanin is a naturally occurring substance in the body that is responsible for both its color and the skin's absorption of UV rays. When the skin has been exposed to UV radiation, melanocytes send more melanin to the skin's surface to protect the skin from burning. Too much melanin can result in age spots, freckles, and hyperpigmentation.

How to Prevent Dark Spots

While it may not be 100% possible to avoid dark spots, one key strategy to preventing them is protecting your skin from ultraviolet rays. Avoid being out in the sun when its rays are at its strongest, which is typically between 10:00am and 4:00pm. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen, which protects skin against both UVA and UVB rays, and look for a minimum of SPF 15. We recommend choosing sunscreens that contain antioxidants to boost their levels of protection.

Effective Ingredients to Combat Dark Spots

To lighten dark spots, topical skin care products contain actives that inhibit the production of melanin in the skin. Although hydroquinone decreases the formation of melanin, it is an extremely controversial. Hydroquinone has been found to be a carcinogenic skin-whitening agent and has also has been linked with the medical condition known as ochronosis. Tyrosinase inhibitors are alternatives to hydroquinone that are considered safer (tyrosinase is the essential enzyme in the formation of melanin). Actives that focus on inhibiting tyrosinase include decapeptide-12, SymWhite 377, arbutin, glabridin (licorice extract), magnesium ascorbyl phosphate and hexylresorcinol. Some effective natural dark spot faders include m-Tranexamic acid, lumiskin, bearberry, kojic acid, glycolic acid, ferulic acid and vitamin C.

Solutions for Dark Spots

Fading dark spots and hyperpigmentation is one of the hardest things to achieve. A regimen, rather than a single product application, is required to make any inroads. Our recommended regimen is:

  1. Exfoliate the damaged skin,
  2. Protect new skin from further sun damage
  3. Use a melanin inhibitor (see above)
  4. Use green LED light therapy a few times a week

Green LED light has been shown to fade freckles and age spots and generally smooth out hyperpigmentation and will give your regimen a big boost.

Read more about Dark Spots:

Getting Under the Skin of Hyperpigmentation and Dark Spots

Five Best for Dark Spots

Natural Dark Spot Solutions

These are some of our favorite products for Dark Spots:

Sevani Rapid Renewal Resurfacing Creme

E'shee Clinical Esthetic Serum Intensive Brightening

M.A.D Skincare Spot On Targeted Skin Brightening Serum

Ultra Renew PLUS Ultrasonic LED

Arcona Instant Magic Reversal Serum