One of the most annoying aspects of breaking out is the fact that even after the pimple goes away it generally leaves behind a red, brown or pink colored mark in order to remind us of the turmoil it waged on our social and emotional wellbeing before finally disappearing.
Okay-fine, the scientific reason behind why pimples leave dark marks is not as a revengeful token of hate, but really, because of something called melanin.
When you get a pimple that’s growing out of control, your immune system responds by sending white blood cells to the inflamed area to fight the infection. Along with white blood cells, melanin is also produced in order to speed up the healing process and enhance protection. Though melanin may be great for protecting your skin, it darkens the specific area it was targeting and therefore leads to dark marks.
Other common reasons you might have dark areas on your skin which don’t match your original skin tone include:
- Genetically inherited freckles
- Melasma due to pregnancy
- Darker joints due to dryness
- Generally darker areas on your body due to lack of proper exfoliation
- darkness due to sun damage
All of the above conditions may have very different root causes, but they have one thing in common: at least some of the darkness is caused by excess melanin in those areas.
How can I get rid of melanin in my skin to fade my dark spots? Hydroquinone.
The best way, which is actually scientifically proven, to stop melanin production in your skin is to use any product containing hydroquinone. In most countries around the world, you can’t get hydroquinone in very high quantities. The highest quantity you can get it OTC is at 2%, which is still enough to reduce melanin and fade your dark spots quite effectively.
Hydroquinone works to inhibit melanin synthesis by acting as a substrate for tyrosinase and damaging melanocytes.
It is NEVER a good idea to try to get 100% hydroquinone, or even use any product containing more then 5% hydroquinone because it is a potentially dangerous chemical if used the wrong way.
Hydroquinone works by killing the melanin pigment and when there’s no melanin, the color in that area will lighten again.
DOES KOJIC ACID WORK AS GOOD AS HYDROQUINONE IN FADING HYPERPIGMENTATION?
Kojic acid has been proven to lighten dark marks as well and works in a similar way as hydroquinone. Kojic acid basically indirectly prevents melanin formation and therefore, can lighten areas efficiently, it is also safe to use.
kojic acid is a naturally derived compound, and it is generally derived from fungi or fermented soy sauce and rice wine. It is considered a safe and effective method of melanin and tyrosinase suppression.
Just like hydroquinone, kojic acid is very potent and should, therefore, be used at a dilution of no more then 4-5%. It is never a good idea to buy products containing a very high percentage of kojic acid as it can lead to adverse side effects.
IS THERE ANY WAY TO FADE MY DARK MARKS NATURALLY? SUGAR-LEMON SCRUB.
If you’re determined to speed up the process of getting rid of your dark marks naturally you’ll be happy to know you have plenty of techniques at your disposal. One of the best ways to lighten marks is to use a lemon sugar scrub.
Here’s how you prepare it:
- in a bowl squeeze out half a lemon
- put in enough sugar to make a scrub (3-4 tablespoons of sugar)
- wash your face and then rub the mixture onto your skin for 2-5 minutes
- wash the scrub off and pat your face dry with a clean towel
- do this every other day
This sugar-lemon scrub works very well on all skin types and not only does it lighten marks, but it also brightens your overall skin tone and helps prevent future breakouts from occurring again.
The citric acid and vitamin C in lemon are very effective in working as a bleaching agent. Vitamin C works to stop melanin production by interacting with copper ions and inhibits tyrosinase. Citric acid is a popular alpha hydroxy acid which reduces the effects of photo-aging and can increase collagen production in the skin as well. The sugar in the mask adds on to this effect as sugar is a natural source of glycolic acid.
A lemon-sugar/ sugar-lemon scrub isn’t the only natural remedy you can use to lighten your dark spots. Amongst the many available options out there, another highly effective technique is to use apple cider vinegar (ACV)
can i use acv to lighten dark spots?
The effectiveness of ACV can’t really be proven with science because there haven’t been any mainstream studies done on its effectiveness for skin problems. However, nearly everyone who tries it claims it works reducing dark spots. Its effectiveness may come from the acidity speeding up exfoliation.
- mix equal parts ACV and water
- apply on the dark marks with a cotton ball
- you can leave it on overnight or wash off after 10-15 minutes
If your skin is not very sensitive you can reduce the dilution and use more ACV then water in order to get faster results. However, it is necessary that you test how your skin reacts to the ACV beforehand as it is quite strong!
So in a nutshell, the fastest and most effective way to get rid of a dark spot is to use hydroquinone based products because hydroquinone can actually stop the melanin production in your skin and lighten the spot.
However, for those of us who are looking for a more natural way to get rid of the darkness, a lemon-sugar scrub or ACV toner are great ways to lighten the spot effectively.
- Never use any product containing high levels of hyrdroquinone or kojic acid
- consult your doctor before using products which contain hydroquinone and kojic acid, even at lesser concentrations
- lemons can cause phototoxicity so do not immediately go out into the sun after using this scrub
- spot-test your skin first with ACV before using it on your face