Read the back of a few anti-aging solutions, and you’re sure to see something in the description that talks about lightening up dark circles, right there next to reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. The visual change in pigmentation—that can be the result of a plethora of things—is most talked about when it comes to the skin on your face and is usually concentrated in tiny areas. Because it consists of areas being darker or having a change in color than the rest of your face, it’s often a roadblock of a totally even complexion. To give you a better background of the causes and treatments of these little spots, we rounded up 10 tidbits of info below.
1. Dark spots don’t have one single cause, which means the reason you may have them might be completely different from the person next to you. For example, dark spots can be the cause of acne, prolonged sun exposure without proper SPF or protection (lather up that sunscreen, ladies!), aging, or the pigmentation in your skin differs due to genetics. It’s commonly grouped under the umbrella of hyperpigmenation.
2. You can pretty much get dark spots anywhere, but the area of concern for where dark spots land for most is on the face. They’re also common on areas where the sun is likely to shine on you the brightest, which is why so many people experience them on their shoulders or the back of the legs where SPF is unfortunately often missed.
3. Abnormal melanin production plays a part in the dark spots caused by the sun. According to the Mayo Clinic, the sun can speed up your skin’s production of melanin, the pigment that delivers color to your skin, making it appear unevenly distributed and darker in some spots than the others.
4. Your hormones can play into the production of dark spots, in a condition that’s referred to as melasma. It’s reportedly common with pregnant women or those taking birth control, as the changes in hormones can signal a production of melanin, what we already know is responsible for pigmentation on your bod.
5. When it comes to the dark spots you’re seeing under your arms, what you use to ward away sweat and odor could be responsible. One expert explains that it could be a combination of bacteria reacting with the aluminum in your deodorant, as well as from shaving.
6. Dark spots can require different treatments based on how dark the spots are. For example, laser treatments, something that doesn’t come in a bottle, may not work on those who have light skin tone and brown spots, as one expert explains that the spots can reappear after a few weeks. More intense treatments like lasers work better on spots that are more deeply pigmented.
7. The treatment of dark spots is a regular in anti-aging treatments. The treatments usually consist of lotions, serums, or creams that include ingredients that work to even out the skin tone or fade those particular spots over time. A common ingredient you’ll find is kojic acid, which actually breaks down the melanin in the skin, but there are many others including soy, ellagic acid, niaciniamide, and more.
8. For overall skin brightening, you’ll find that vitamin C is a beauty ingredient superstar. It promotes brightening and also has antioxidants, further protecting your skin from damage caused by free radicals.
9. Another quick fix for the mildest cases of discoloration could be exfoliating. By removing the dead, and often darker, skin cells from the outer most layer of your skin, you’ll be left with a often softer, smoother, much more even, and all around brighter complexion.
10. When it comes to dark spots caused by acne, there’s a big difference between a scar and just a mark. Scars by nature include changes in texture. You might notice if you’ve cut your hand that, when it healed, you were left with a raised or dented area that might be a little wrinkly or not as smooth to the touch. That often happens with acne scars. Acne marks may be similar to just dark spots from the sun—a change in pigmentation in a certain area where you got a zit—and these can be treated with topical treatments to brighten up the area.