Do you have dark spots or pigmentation marks on your face that don’t seem to fade away? Do you constantly worry about these dark spots and find yourself covering them with make-up every time you head out? If you relate well with these situations, then it’s time to understand your skin better and identify a lasting solution to get rid of your dark spots.
Every problem has a root cause, and it’s essential to get to the bottom of the condition to treat it. So, let’s begin by understanding why your skin develops dark spots.
You may have heard about a natural pigment called melanin that’s present in the skin. This particular pigment is responsible for the colour of the skin, eyes, and even your hair. It’s incredible how one pigment is responsible for so much diversity in the physical appearance of people across the globe! Every single person has the same number of cells that produce melanin known as melanocytes. It’s the difference in how these cells behave that result in different coloured skin among people.
But providing the colour of our skin, eyes, and even hair isn’t the only purpose of melanin.
It also protects the skin from the harmful effects of the sun. Whenever your skin is exposed to the sun, the melanocytes (cells that produce melanin) increase their production of melanin. And sometimes, they go into overdrive, producing more melanin than usual, resulting in dark spots.
Another problem that’s closely linked with dark spots is skin pigmentation. So, let’s understand what skin pigmentation is and how it is related to dark spots. Later in this article, we’ll explore the causes of dark spots on the face and body and list some natural remedies to get rid of dark spots. In the end, we will be looking at some preventive measures to reduce the appearance of such dark spots. Let’s get started.
Often, we hear people using terms such as skin pigmentation or hyperpigmentation. These terms are commonly used interchangeably with dark spots. But, are they the same thing or is there a difference between the two?
Skin pigmentation or hyperpigmentation is a broader term used to describe dark spots or patches or even general darkening of the skin. The melanin pigment responsible for giving us our skin colour is usually evenly distributed in the skin. We’ve talked about how dark spots occur when certain parts of the skin produce more melanin than the rest. This can happen due to various factors such as exposure to the sun's harmful UV rays or even due to hormones. Dark spots are just one form of skin pigmentation and we’ll be talking about them at length in this article.
However, there are various other types of skin pigmentation as well - freckles, melasma, dark circles, etc. to name a few. Each of them occurs due to different reasons. For example, freckles are a common response to sunlight and start appearing at a very young age. Age spots, on the other hand, are darker spots and start developing as we grow older. Melasma is pigmentation on the skin that appears as dark brown patches, mostly on the cheeks. Sometimes, injuries and inflammation can leave behind dark spots too. These are called post-inflammatory pigmentation. Dark circles around the eyes are also a common type of skin pigmentation that makes us look dull and tired. Whatever the type of pigmentation, it can be managed by developing good sun screening habits.
As described earlier, dark spots are caused when certain parts of the skin produce more melanin than the other areas. Apart from sun exposure, hormonal changes, inflammation, conditions like diabetes also influence the production of melanin. Some of the most common reasons behind dark spots are discussed below:
Hormonal changes can be a leading cause of skin pigmentation, especially for women. Melasma is a type of skin pigmentation that appears in the form of dark patches, usually on the cheeks or forehead. This condition is prevalent after pregnancy.
Exposure to the harmful UV rays of the sun can cause dark spots to appear on the skin. Freckles, sunspots, solar lentigines, or liver spots are the most common type of pigmentation that can be developed due to exposure to the sun. These can be prevented by healthy sun screening habits developed at a very young age.
Certain medications can cause specific side effects, such as skin pigmentation and dark spots. NSAIDs or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs produce the most common reactions.
Dark spots may also occur after skin inflammation or injuries to the skin. These can be caused by acne or even eczema.
Sometimes, the use of certain products like perfumes or certain hair products can cause skin irritation, causing dark spots to appear on the skin.
Diabetes can also cause certain areas of the skin to produce more melanin, leading to dark patches.
As you can see, there are varying reasons for developing dark spots, which brings us to two crucial questions. How to remove dark spots from our skin? And more importantly, can we prevent dark spots from appearing in the first place? Before we discuss that, it’s important to distinguish between dark spots and acne scars as people tend to confuse between the two of them.
It is essential to distinguish between acne scars and dark spots because the treatment for the two is very different. Dark spots are usually superficial and are not as damaging as acne scars. Sometimes, what we consider to be dark spots and dismiss as a cosmetic problem of the skin can turn out to be deep acne scars.
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is light or dark brown spots left behind on the skin by mild or moderate acne. They eventually fade from the skin with time. Acne scars are usually deeper and a result of damage to layers beneath the surface of the skin. These are usually caused by moderate to severe acne.
We are all guilty of popping zits, and it turns out that this is the most common reason for acne scars. Some of the types of acne scars are:
These scars are deep, but need not be wide. They can be recognized by their jagged edges and resemble large scooped-out pores.
These are broad and rectangular depressions in the skin with defined edges.
These are broad depressions with sloping edges, much like their name suggests.
Scars require the tissues to be overgrown, and while they are difficult to remove entirely, they may fade over time. But they remain visible. Thankfully, dark spots are easier to get rid of, but it can take anywhere between two months to 3 years for them to vanish completely.
We have already understood the meaning of dark spots and their causes. Now we have come to the most important part of this article, where we’ll discuss how to remove dark spots from the skin. Let’s start by looking at various home remedies to treat dark spots.
Turmeric has been used in skincare in every Indian household. Combine two teaspoons of Turmeric with curd and besan and make a thick paste out of it. Apply it on the skin as a face pack and rinse it off with lukewarm water. Pat dry.
Tomato paste is rich in lycopene that protects the skin from sun damage. Apply tomato juice on the skin for 20 minutes and then wash off with lukewarm water to lighten dark spots and skin complexion.
Manjistha is an Ayurvedic herb that has numerous skin benefits. It is a blood purifier and can treat the skin from within. It has a sweet, bitter, and acidic taste and is an effective pitta pacifier. It supports healthy and younger-looking skin. Manjistha capsules can be consumed once or twice daily to treat dark spots. You can also mix manjistha powder with honey and leave it on your face for 15-20 minutes before washing it off and pat dry your skin.
Masoor dal is something that is easily found in every Indian household. Masoor dal face masks are a popular depigmentation treatment. Soak 50 grams of red lentil overnight in a bowl of water. Then using a blender, create a fine paste. Apply the paste on your face for 20 minutes and rinse it off with cold water.
Studies show that green tea may have a depigmenting effect when applied to the skin. Steep a green tea bag in boiled water for a few minutes. Remove it and rub it over the dark patches of your skin. Placing green tea bags under your eyes can also remove dark circles.
Mix 1 teaspoon of sandalwood powder with one teaspoon of orange zest and orange juice to make a thick paste. Apply it as a face mask, focusing on the areas with dark spots. Leave it on for 20 minutes before rinsing it off with lukewarm water. Repeat this twice or three times a week.
Saffron is an excellent Ayurvedic natural ingredient for reducing pigmentation and dark spots. Soak a few strands of Saffron in a small amount of water and add two teaspoons of turmeric powder to it to prepare a paste. Apply this paste on your face to reduce pigmentation and dark spots.
Buttermilk can be very refreshing to drink, especially in the summers. But, did you know that it can also be used to treat dark spots? Apply buttermilk on the dark spots using a cotton ball. Leave it on for 15-20 minutes before rinsing it off. You can also add a little bit of lemon juice to the buttermilk if you have oily or acne-prone skin.
Mix an identical amount of water and apple cider vinegar in a bowl and apply it on the dark spots and pigmentation marks. Rinse off with lukewarm water and use your favorite serum and moisturizer. If the mixture stings, add more water to it.
Aloe vera is a miracle ingredient for all your skin problems. All you have to do to lighten the dark spots on your face is apply aloe vera juice or gel directly on the dark spots and leave it on for 30 minutes before washing it away. You can also leave it on your face overnight. Rinse off with lukewarm water and apply a toner and moisturiser later on.
Using night cream for some time can reduce the appearance of dark spots and can even fade the existing dark spots. As we sleep during the night, our skin is busy rejuvenating and repairing itself. I know that it can be hard to resist falling off to sleep after a long, tiring day, but spending a few extra minutes applying night cream can do wonders for your skin. Kama Ayurveda Rejuvenating and Brightening Night Cream works effectively to remove dark spots from your skin. It is rich in Saffron, which lightens and brightens the uneven skin, reduces dark circles and pigmentation marks while also repairing fine lines, age spots, and other signs of aging.
As with any other problem, even with dark spots, it is always better to be safe than sorry. Here are some tips to prevent the appearance of dark spots on the skin:
Kama Ayurveda’s Natural Sun Protection is effective in blocking UVA and UVB rays and preventing the appearance of dark spots. It is a gentle, non-comedogenic, non-greasy formula suited to sensitive & oily skin.
As we discussed before, dark spots can occur due to extrinsic reasons (exposure to the sun) as well as intrinsic reasons (hormonal imbalance). It’s hard to treat dark spots that result from intrinsic reasons just by applying creams or oils topically. To treat such dark spots, identify which dosha (Vata or Pitta) is in imbalance. Then, a proper diet should be followed to balance the dosha. Drink lots of water, fruits, legumes, eggs, garlic, and onion as these foods help in preventing dark spots.
There are traditional Ayurvedic ingredients as well that use the energy of herbs and oils to treat dark spots. Below are a few Ayurvedic treatments that you can regularly use if you are suffering from dark spots.
To get the best results, take an appropriate amount onto palms and massage gently into skin until well-absorbed. Leave on for 30 minutes and wash off with a mild cleanser.
We’ve mostly talked about natural remedies and beauty habits to get rid of pigmentation and dark spots. We highly recommend that you follow them to get rid of your dark spots.
There are other treatments as well, which involve the use of chemicals. We do not recommend these treatments as they are not suitable for all skin types and might cause side-effects. However, to provide you with complete knowledge on the subject, we’re listing some of these chemical treatments. Remember to consult a dermatologist and take professional advice before going forward with any of them.
While we all want quick solutions to our skin problems, it's not possible to altogether remove dark spots from the face overnight. There are, however, some things that you can do to get rid of them quickly.
As we discussed earlier in the article, spots caused by acne or pimples are called acne scars. Unlike dark spots, they are not caused by pigmentation and are difficult to remove. In Ayurveda, Red Sandalwood is considered a useful ingredient for lightening acne scars. You can use Anti-Acne Face Pack with Red Sandalwood as one of the ingredients to lighten dark spots caused by pimples.
Removing dark spots from the face is a slow process. While some chemical treatments may help you remove dark spots on face fast, they might have side-effects.
We recommend that you start by developing sun-screening habits and apply night cream or night serum that helps in removing dark spots. Occasionally, treat your face with natural ingredients like lemon juice or potato juice to further accelerate the process. We’ve already shared a list of natural remedies in the article.
Lemon is the most common natural ingredient used to treat dark spots as it is rich in Vitamin C. It’s easy to use lemon on your face for dark spots. Just squeeze the lemon into a bowl and add equal parts of water. Applying lemon juice on the skin without diluting might result in irritation. Use a cotton ball to apply the mixture directly to the areas with dark spots on your face and hands. If your face has any bruises, cuts, or dry skin patches, make sure you avoid them while applying lemon on your skin.
In most cases, dark spots on the skin are not a cause of concern, except for cosmetic reasons. However, it is advised to see a doctor if any of the dark patches on the skin either itches, bleeds, tingles, or changes in colour or size as these may be indicators of skin cancer. It is also important to understand that all of the solutions mentioned above might not suit everyone. It is advisable to do a patch test first before applying anything to the face. Home remedies and healthy skincare habits are for everyone, but remember to consult a doctor before trying out chemical peels and other hyperpigmentation treatments.
Shreya Dalela is a certified Yoga instructor and a professional dancer trained at The Danceworx. She’s passionate about Ayurveda and holistic living with over 6 years of experience in doing extensive research and content creation in the domain.
Certified Ayurvedic Doctor (Central Council of Indian Medicine) working in Kama Ayurveda as an Assistant Training Manager.