Nowadays, there is hardly anything a touch of make-up can’t do. Anyone armed with a perfect match foundation plus a good concealer can easily fake a great complexion. But then you can also forget going for a dip at the beach with your girlfriends. Because who wears full coverage make-up at the beach? And can you imagine the foundation melting in the salt water? Qué horror! Would you not rather have a flawless canvas, so to speak? There is nothing like going bare-faced and proud because your skin feels and looks great.
While there are no miracle, one-product-does-it-all solutions for your skin woes, it is possible to achieve an even skin tone with the correct plan of attack (yes, and I mean attack those dark spots from the netherworld!). Treating discoloration or unwanted pigmentation does not even have to thin your pockets.
Know what you’re dealing with
Sometimes, evening treatments do not work simply because they are not the right ones for your specific condition. Before even touching your skin, determine the cause of the problem. It may amaze you just how much of a help it is when you first try to find out what you’re dealing with.
There are different kinds of pigmentation. There is pigmentation that is caused by too much exposure to the sun that causes the cells of your skin to collect on particular surfaces and appear brown or red, depending on what shade your skin comes in. These are what we call sun spots. The more we age, the more vulnerable we are to these discolorations, because our skin’s ability to produce collagen and regenerate itself diminishes as our age advances.
There is also pigmentation that is caused by trauma to the skin, such as acne, wounds, or other phenomena that destroy the natural structure of the skin. These skin problems create trauma that consequently ignites the skin’s self-healing properties. As our skin tries to recover from a pimple, for example, or a severe case of acne, scarring is left behind. The scarring is actually our skin’s way of coping with the trauma, and it is proof that it is repairing itself. However, let’s not deny that scarring looks just as unpleasant as the acne outbreak, and, sadly, it usually lasts even longer than the actual pimples that caused it.
Different causes of skin pigmentation should be treated accordingly. So in order to determine what’s causing the unevenness in your skin’s coloration, it is best to consult a dermatologist that you trust and get his or her expert opinion before jumping onto any skin wonder bandwagon.
Protect your skin from the sun
The sun is great. We all need some sunshine in our lives. However, too much of anything is never a good thing. And our skin agrees. The UV rays of the sun can cause free radical damage to our skin. Whenever our skin is in the process of recuperating from, say, an acne outbreak, it is even more vulnerable to sun damage. Also, existing spots have a higher chance of darkening even more when your skin is not protected from the sun. This is true even when you are only exposed to the sun for a bit. There’s no need to spell out that prolonged sun exposure without sunscreen is a terrible idea.
When choosing a sunscreen, go for the ones with higher SPFs, say 50 to 60. Products with lower SPF levels may have sufficed in the past. But given the altered climatic conditions today, these will do practically nothing to protect your skin any more. If you live somewhere with a tropical climate, or if you experience really strong summers, high-SPF sunscreen is a must.
Do not be fooled, though, when you look out and you think that the day’s not particularly sunny. UV rays will still penetrate your skin whether or not the sun is showing on a particular day. Pro tip: Just wear sunscreen every single morning.
Attack the spots with a lightening product
Now that you are sure you’re protecting your skin from further darkening or further damage, you may now consider targeting the spots actively. Depending on the severity of your dark spots, the size of the affected area, or the length of time you have been suffering from uneven skin tone, you may want to attack the problem blindly with whatever product that claims to have bleaching or whitening properties.
If you find yourself in this state of mind, pause and breathe for a second and think out a plan carefully. While bleaching may sound like a reasonable course of action, bleaching agents in cosmetic products can be very harsh to the skin. And if you are dealing with hyperpigmentation caused by a bout of acne, this may even mean that your problems get bigger and more complicated. Acne-prone skin is very sensitive and very tricky to deal with, because it is already irritated. Chances are, it will react to the strong chemicals and the acne will return with a vengeance.
The trick is to lighten the darkened areas with a gentle lightening product that does not contain harsh or harmful chemicals that may trigger an unpleasant reaction. Instead of bleaching the dark marks, use a product, such as the Zeta White lightening package, that will stop the melanin production of your skin and inhibit the darkening properties so that the existing marks do not get worse, and active pimples or active sun spots do not leave pigmentation.
Consistency is key
Be consistent with your skin care regimen. Protect, treat, maintain. Allow your regimen ample time to take effect, which means sticking to it for at least a month or a couple of months to fully appreciate its benefits and to determine whether it’s working for you. Do not get lazy if you want to see positive results.