The How-to’s on Freckles and Sun Spots

Hyperpigmentation (aka HP) occurs when a patch of skin becomes darker than its surrounding area due to increased melanin. Sun spots (solar lentigines) and melasma are among the most common forms of hyperpigmentation. Melasma is a specific type of HP that is associated with hormonal changes and appears as gray-brown patches on the face. 90% of people with melasma are women. This is because pregnancy and birth control usage increases estrogen and progesterone levels, triggering a subsequent rise in melanin production by melanocytes in the top layer of skin (epidermis) during sun exposure. These well-outlined patches typically appear on the cheeks, nose, upper lip, and forehead. The discoloration usually subsides after stopping the use of contraceptives or after giving birth.

Why do certain medications cause photosensitivity?

Certain medications make your skin more sensitive to photodamage, otherwise known as sun damage. With medication-induced photosensitivity, the exact cause depends on the medication. Some medications make the skin sensitive to light, and that causes the skin to become red in the presence of UV rays. Others cause the skin to become thinner, decreasing physical protection against solar radiation. Additionally, some medications are converted into a toxic, more irritating form in the presence of sunlight.

Which Types of Facial Treatments Reduce Hyperpigmentation?

How deep the HP is will determine the type of facials or peels you will need.

Light freckles that come out in the summer (superficial/epidermal damage)

Recommended treatment: Traditional facials with enzymes, along with periodic light peels containing salicylic, glycolic or lactic acid throughout the year.

Freckles that stay year round and have increased throughout the years (superficial/epidermal damage)

Recommended treatment: Jessner’s peel (multi-layer) or a blend of salicylic and lactic acid peels every 5-6 weeks for up to a year. It is not recommended to have more than six treatments within a one-year period.

Dark spots or patches (dermal damage)

Recommended treatment: Facials and peels will not be able to help with dermal damage. A dermatologist will probably recommend a prescription for hydroquinone, tretinoin, and/or azelaic acid. Chemical peels, dermabrasion, and non-IPL laser treatment should also be considered. It’s still a good idea to have regular facials for benefits like hydration, exfoliation, extractions and overall skin health.

Which Types of Products Reduce Hyperpigmentation?

Medications like hydroquinone, tretinoin, and azelaic acid are the go-to for dermatologists. Since these may cause unwanted side effects, these would be prescribed on a case-by-case basis. Estheticians, on the other hand, recommend non-prescription products which can sometimes be safer and have fewer side effects.

The Brighten Up Bar is a skin brightener and pore cleanser. This bar contains several interesting ingredients to support these two functions, but for this topic, we’ll focus on the ones for brightening.

sun spots

You may enjoy reviewing my website for more information on each of these ingredients:  

Elaeis Guineensis (Palm) Oil: Contains Vitamin A which helps protect against UV damage and stimulates collagen production.

Glucosamine HCI (D): Naturally occurring sugar used to increase hydration and to reduce inflammation, hyperpigmentation and the appearance of wrinkles.

Tannic Acid: Commonly found in tree bark and leaves, this compound helps to protect the skin from UV-induced damage and reduces inflammation.

Camellia Sinensis (Black Tea) Leaf Extract: This extract is a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent that works to decrease UV-induced skin damage.

Kojic Acid: This compound is a byproduct of rice fermentation during the production of Japanese sake. It is highly effective in reducing melanin production and is used to lighten and brighten hyperpigmentation.

Azelaic Acid: Reduces the production of melanin, preventing hyperpigmentation.


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Shelley Skin Care
Your Guide to Good Skin


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