If you’re dealing with dark spots and hyperpigmentation, you will be surprised on how some of your habits can actually make it look darker and more noticeable over time.
Remember that having the right procedure to get rid of pigmentation is not enough, you also need to take care of your skin in order to prevent future dark spots from appearing (or re-appearing).
Here are some of the habits that you may want to re-think about:
1. Skipping sun protection
There are three common reasons why some people skip using sunscreen:
1) it’s an additional step to their skin care
2) it can be greasy
3) it can cause breakout
The truth is, number 1 is right. Using a sunscreen is an additional step – and it’s an important one especially because UV rays are responsible for 80% of aging and sun damaged skin.
Over exposure to the sun triggers the production of melanin (pigment in the skin), causing you to develop dark spots and hyperpigmentation. This can also aggravate the problem by making sunspots, melasma, and other forms of skin pigmentation look darker than they originally were.
Applying a sunscreen daily protects your skin and reduces your risk of pigmentation and sun damage. Find a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects from both UVA (causes aging skin) and UVB (causes sunburn). Also, choose a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 45 and above.
For reasons number 2 and 3, consider using oil-free sunscreen that removes the greasiness and reduces the risk for breakouts. Good recommendations include Clear Defense SPF 45 and Sheer Defense Tinted SPF 46 from Dr. Sylvia Skin Care. Both are oil-free, non-greasy, and suitable for all types of skin.
Additionally, you can also get further protection by seeking shade and wearing protective clothing like long-sleeved shirts and long pants. Also, be sure to limit your sun exposure between 10am and 4pm, when sunrays are the strongest.
2. Not properly managing stress
While stress doesn’t necessarily cause your skin to change its color, it can get your hormones and cortisol (hormone that helps your body deal stressful situations) levels out of control.
When your cortisol level is high too often, it can cause excessive oil secretion of your skin, high blood pressure and it can also disrupt your sleep resulting to fatigue. This triggers responses that can cause you to neglect your skin care (skipping routine or not even removing makeup before sleeping).
Stress can also release inflammatory chemicals which is your body’s response to protect itself. The release of these chemicals in your body can stimulate melanocyte cells (protective skin darkening pigment of the skin) which leads to activation of pigmentation such as melasma.
If that’s not bad enough, not lack of sleep due to stress also impairs blood flow and deprives your body with oxygen which cause your skin to look dull and tired.
So, how should you manage stress?
Here are some of the things you can consider:
- Get fresh air and walk outside (you can also do your exercise such as jogging, biking or swimming)
- Eat nutritious, energy-boosting food (avocado, banana, nuts, eggs, salmon, and other food with good, unsaturated fat)
- Avoid eating fast food and junk food
- Drink your favorite cup of tea (chamomile and peppermint are low in caffeine and helps to calm your body)
- Unplug from technology (even just for several minutes)
- Other relaxing ways to consider: listening to relaxing music, taking a warm bath, sleeping early, or spending time with your love ones
3. Continuously picking on your skin
Touching your face or picking at your pimples does nothing but increase your risk of developing more dark spots. It also delays the healing of the acne and causes more damage to the skin, leading to scars.
The worst part is, it increases your risk of having PIH or post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (condition caused by injury to the skin) leaving you with more dark spots and blemishes.
The best way to avoid this is to keep yours hands off to your face. This means keeping your hands busy with other productive things like finding a good hobby, reading your favorite book or even learning how to cook.
You should also check out our acne and acne scar treatment guide, to learn more on how reduce scars caused by acne.
4. Spending too much time in front of a screen
Other than affecting your eyesight, too much screen time can also be harmful to your skin. Researchers believe that too much exposure to high-energy visible light (HEV) from gadgets, could be damaging to the skin and a possible source of premature aging.
Studies suggest that it can contribute to photo aging, including the formation of fine lines and appearance of hyperpigmentation.
This doesn’t mean that you’ll need to shove away your phones and gadgets completely. However, it’s important to set a healthy screen time schedule or limit the amount of time you spend in front of screens.
If your work, for instance, requires you to stare at a computer or laptop all day, be sure to take breaks and get up.
How can you reduce dark spots and pigmentation?
Apart from avoiding the habits mentioned above, we rounded up safe skin lightening treatments available that can reduce your dark spots and pigmentation.
- Limelight. This non-invasive light treatment delivers pulses of light at the skin to fade dark spots and pigmentation. Limelight works by drawing out brown spots from the deeper layers of the skin and allowing it to scab and fall off after three to five days. This then reveals a brighter skin.
- Chemical Peel. This is one of the most effective methods for skin lightening. It works by peeling the superficial layer of the skin and then assisting in the rebuilding of collagen and cell growth regeneration. You can learn more about this treatment by checking our blog about how chemical peels differ.
- Pearl Resurfacing. This is an FDA-cleared device that uses pulses of light directed at the top layer of the skin to remove a portion of the damaged surface. It causes the skin to form a natural protective dressing, which will peel off after three to five days. This then results in a clearer and smoother skin with a “pearly” glow.
- Skin Lightening Creams. Professional skin lightening creams such as Obag Clear and Blender as well as Dr. Sylvia Skin Care Balancer offer topical treatments with prescription strength of 4% hydroquinone, a safe skin-lightening ingredient that can be used at home. Do take note, however, that using this product requires prescription from an aesthetic doctor, along with consistent follow-up and supervision.
Schedule a Consultation
Remember to avoid these bad habits to stop making your dark spots from getting worse. However, if you are bothered with pigmentation, don’t hesitate to turn to safe aesthetic treatments.
Contact Cutis Laser Clinics in Singapore today and schedule a consultation with our Harvard-trained aesthetic doctor, Dr. Sylvia Ramirez, to find out which skin lightening treatment is right for you.