Hyperpigmentation of the skin, more commonly referred to as dark spots, can happen to anyone. There are many reasons why a patch of skin would become considerably darker than the rest of the body.
Sun exposure is the most common reason why skin darkens, but chafing due to friction from daily activities and wearing tight clothing may also cause hyperpigmentation. Sometimes, hormonal imbalance—such as what happens when a woman is pregnant or have polycystic ovarian syndrome—may lead to hyperpigmentation. Those who were diagnosed with diabetes mellitus may also experience unusual darkening of the skin.
Different body parts may darken, too. The typical complaint among women and men are dark underarms, elbows, knees, and bikini area.
In most cases, skincare products can help lighten the problem area. There are topical creams and lotions specifically formulated for the user’s concerns. You can easily buy bikini area whitening products for the sensitive skin around the groin in drugstores and supermarkets. There are whitening products for the face, too, for darkening caused by the sun, insect bites, or pimple scars.
However, with so many products in the market right now, choosing which one to try out can feel overwhelming. What ingredients should you look for when shopping for skin whitening products?
Vitamin C is one of the most powerful skincare ingredients in the market. You can see it incorporated in moisturizers, serums, lotions, deodorants, and others.
Vitamin C, when applied topically, inhibits the production of melanin. It lightens hyperpigmentation and even out the skin tone.
Moreover, it also boosts the production of collagen. Collagen is a type of protein abundant all over the body, including the skin. When collagen is decreased, which happens when a person ages, the skin loses its elasticity.
Vitamin C, therefore, has the potential to keep the skin firm and youthful-looking. It may reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.
In addition, vitamin C is an antioxidant. It will protect the skin from free-radical damage that causes premature aging.
Niacinamide is increasingly becoming popular within the beauty community. It is the new “it” ingredient in skincare, being praised for its anti-aging and brightening abilities.
Niacinamide, one of the two forms of vitamin B3, can be taken as an oral supplement or applied topically. Either way, evidence from studies and user experience claims that it can significantly improve hyperpigmentation.
In addition, it may also calm rosacea, which is a condition that results in redness, pimples, and visible blood vessels.
Kojic Acid is a substance derived from several types of fungi. It is known to inhibit the formation of tyrosinase, an amino acid that the skin needs to produce melanin. That is why it is used in many whitening products in the market.
Kojic Acid also contains antimicrobial properties — perfect for people who suffer from acne. It fights different strains of bacteria usually found on the skin.
Arbutin is another rising star in the beauty industry. Its primary role is to lighten dark spots and even out skin tone.
It is derived from the bearberry plant, and, like kojic acid, it works by preventing the production of tyrosinase. It also can protect the skin from the harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun.
What makes it better than other whitening skincare products is, it does not irritate the skin. Other ingredients may cause the skin to become dry after use, but arbutin is gentle.
It is also safer than hydroquinone, the whitening ingredient that has recently been declared carcinogenic (when taken orally) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Lactic acid is a gentle chemical exfoliant that, as the name suggests, is derived from milk. It is considered an AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) which, when used regularly, will lead to lighter skin. It penetrates the skin and removes the top layer, where the dead skin cells cling to, and reveal fresh skin cells underneath.
Like other lightening ingredients mentioned above, it suppresses the production of melanin.
Papaya, a tropical fruit, is a popular whitening ingredient in skincare in South America and Asia. Papaya contains AHA, which exfoliates the top-most layer of the skin, boosting skin renewal and cell turnover. What is left is brighter, smoother, and moisturized skin.
To lighter dark spots, the best thing that most people can do is to use sunscreen every day. Exposure to the sun will make dark spots grow darker and more noticeable. It will also prevent premature signs of aging on your skin.
Before you purchase a skin whitening product to even out your skin tone, make sure to patch test it to ensure it is safe and you are not allergic to the ingredient.