Wondering how best to tackle the dark spots on your face? The first step is to understand exactly what you’re dealing with.
There are several kinds of dark spots, all of which can be caused and exacerbated by different factors. Once you’ve identified the type of black spots on your skin and understand what causes them, you can take the right course of action to prevent and treat them.
Under the Surface, Dark Spots Have a lot in Common
No matter what they are called, dark spots are a result of melanin production.
Freckles, acne marks, age spots, melasma: although these dark spots have different characteristics and triggers, they have one thing in common. They’re all caused by an increase in melanin production.
Melanin is a pigment that gives skin its colour. Your skin produces melanin to defend itself against harmful UV rays and as a response to inflammation. When excess melanin production is triggered within the skin’s deeper layers – something that can happen for a number of reasons – this leads to darkening on the outside, which manifests as dark spots on the skin’s surface.
If you’re struggling to identify the dark spots on your face and you’re at a loss for a solution, read on to find out about the four main types of dark spot: freckles, solar lentigo, melasma and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
Dark spots can be categorized into four main groups, based on what cause them.
These are small, flat, brown marks which usually appear on the face and other areas of skin exposed to the sun, either alone or in a cluster.
Freckles are usually hereditary, but can appear or become darker when the skin is exposed to the sun. Unlike other dark spots, they may fade over winter, when the skin produces less melanin. Freckles are more common in people with fair skin, although they can also affect darker skin types.
Solar lentigines, also known as age spots or liver spots, are well-defined patches of darkened skin, and can appear as single or multiple marks. They usually appear on areas of skin that are exposed to the sun, since they are caused by exposure to UV light.
Unlike freckles, lentigines don’t become lighter in winter. Although children may also develop lentigines, they are more common in adults, especially those who burn easily in the sun.
Melasma takes the form of extended pigmentation that can cover a whole area of your face, in contrast to the smaller dark spots characteristic of freckles and solar lentigines. This discoloration appears in patches and can vary in colour, ranging from dark brown to light yellow.
Melasma is more common among women and people with darker skin types living in sunny climates. Like freckles, melasma may appear more pronounced in summer and fade during the winter months.
While exposure to sunshine may worsen the condition, pregnancy and hormonal drugs such as the contraceptive pill are also contributing factors.
Melasma, freckles and sun spots can be caused by the sun, hormones and hereditary factors.
Post-inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH)
When caused by inflammation or injury to the skin, hyperpigmentation – another name for the dark spots found on the face and elsewhere on the body – is referred to as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH). These marks are flat and can range from pink to red, to dark grayish brown, depending on your skin. They are a little lighter than pigment spots such as freckles and age spots, and can look more like blemishes. Although all skin types can be affected by PIH, it is more common in darker skin types.
Post-inflammatory hyper-pigmentation develops from acne marks and wounds
Inflammation resulting from acne is a common cause of PIH. The inflamed skin triggers excess melanin production, leading to dark spots known as acne marks on the surface of the skin. Similarly, when you develop a wound, the body produces melanin as a response to cell damage, resulting in dark spots on the skin’s surface.
Although the sun doesn’t directly cause PIH, exposure to sunlight can aggravate the symptoms and prolong recovery time. Squeezing or picking pimples can also cause inflammation, leading to dark spots on your face, so try and avoid it.
How to Prevent and Lighten Dark Spots on Your Face
The good news is that these dark spots are not harmful in themselves, and may lighten over time. If your face has dark spots caused by post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, for example, they may fade in three to 24 months.
There are also a few things you can do to prevent or remove the black spots on your skin.
Protect Your Skin from Harmful UV Rays
As well as causing freckles and solar lentigines, UV rays can also increase the likelihood of melasma and darken existing acne marks. Limiting sun exposure, wearing appropriate clothing such as a sun hat, and using sunscreen can reduce the risk of developing black spots on your skin and prevent new ones from forming.
Tailor Your Skincare Regime
Once you know the type of dark spots on your face, you can adapt your skincare regime to help lighten and remove them.
Scientists at The Pond’s Institute created the Pond’s Flawless White range after 10 years of analysing more than 20,000 genes. This knowledge allowed them to identify one of the critical genes that affects skin darkening. Pond’s GenActiv™ formula is designed to adapt to your skin, fading dark spots and lightening skin from the inside, resulting in a radiant complexion in just seven days. To help treat the dark spots on your face, try Pond's Flawless White Day Cream; a powerful skin lightening solution with a light touch.