A guide to busting dark patches of skin

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A closer look at anti-blemish active ingredients

Don’t let those annoying brown spots (AKA liver spots) that appear on the face, cleavage and hands as you age get you down. The right regime can lessen their appearance and stop the formulation of new ones. Let’s take a closer look…

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Dark patches = age spots?

Liver spots (hyperpigmentation) are the result of an overproduction of melanin, the molecule that governs skin colour. This excess may be due to a variety of factors, including excessive sun exposure, ageing or hormonal disorders (pregnancy mask is a common example). There is also post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, which occurs after a spot, bug bite or other trauma leaves a blemish behind after it has healed. Pigmentation occurs more commonly on fair skin in the form of large freckles and often appears on exposed areas of the body such as the face, cleavage and back of the hands. However, that’s not to say that darker skin tones can’t get these blemishes too, where they often manifest themselves as discoloured, uneven patches. These marks can be treated by a dermatologist or tackled at home with a variety of cosmetics.

Prevention is better than cure…

To prevent these dark patches from even appearing in the first place, it’s essential that you’re mindful about your exposure to the sun. Wearing an SPF that protects against both UVA and UVB rays is crucial. Don’t forget to apply it to your neck, décolletage and hands – the skin here is much thinner so really needs that extra protection. And be sure to seek shade when the sun is at its brightest between midday and 3pm.

At Home Treatments…

There are numerous anti-blemish creams and serums on the market or available from dermatologists that can limit the appearance of liver spots, mostly by fading them and making them lighter. These treatments rely on three types of active ingredients:

-       Tyrosinase inhibitors: These are lightening active ingredients that reduce melanin production. Arbutin, L-niacide, kojic acid, glabridin, vitamin C and rucinol are common examples.

-       Antioxidants: These repair the damage caused by the sun. Antioxidants are protective and fight against oxidation, which can lead to an increase in skin pigmentation. Vitamins E and C, and polyphenols such as green tea, olive and grape extracts are all good ones. It’s also worth boosting your diet with antioxidant foods, too – be sure to up your intake of blueberries, goji berries, pecans, kidney beans and even dark chocolate.

-       Exfoliating active ingredients: These will help the skin regenerate and accelerate cell renewal: look for AHAs and BHAs such as glycolic acid, lactic acid and salicylic acid.

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