One of the paradoxes of life is that beauty often has a limited shelf life. When we’re young, skin is thick and plump. It’s usually free of blemishes and it radiates health and fertility.
Then it ages. Once young skin develops wrinkles, with sun damage and visible aging. Skin gets older. And notably, we develop blemishes, and scars we’d like to hide.
Skin blemishes are the result of excessive melanin levels. Melanin is the dark skin pigment, and hyperpigmentation is when the skin cells that produce this dark pigment shift into overdrive, with the development of:
- age spots
- blotchy skin
- sun damage
- uneven complexion
Skin blemishes may also appear as acne scars, birth marks or other signs that skin has been damaged in some form. Though such blemishes are primarily cosmetic, sun damage may elevate risk of skin cancer.
Melanin occurs in all humans and determines skin and hair color and even the shade of one’s eyes. Levels of melanin fluctuate among ethnic groups; African-Americans and those of Asian descent have higher levels of melanin than caucasians.
Melanin is produced in the deepest layer of the epidermis – the skin’s outermost layer – by the melanocyte skin cells. And hyperpigmentation occurs when the tyrosinase enzyme triggers the melanocyte cells to produce excessive melanin in localized areas.
While birth marks are produced at birth, hyperpigmentation, and the skin blemishes that develop as a result, can be triggered by factors including:
- birth control pills
- hormone replacement therapy
- sun exposure
Skin blemishes tend to form in concentrated patches, as a result of these factors, and can make once smooth complexion look uneven and blotchy.
How to Treat Skin Blemishes
In many cases, it’s possible to reduce the chance that dark spots and related issues with complexion will form. Sun exposure, for example, is a common reason why women (and men) develop age spots and blotchy patches that, left unchecked, can often morph into melanoma and forms of skin cancer. Wearing sun screen, with an SPF of at least 30, can reduce such damage.
As well, hormone replacement therapy is another reason why many women develop dark spots and skin blemishes. And considering that some forms of HRT are linked to heightened risk of breast cancer, it may be advisable to avoid this treatment completely.
Finally, and perhaps the most popular treatment for dark spots and for brighter complexion, many women make a skin brightening product part of their daily skin ritual. However, conventional skin brighteners present health risks that warrant a closer inspection.
Guidelines For Choosing a Skin Brightener
A skin brightener is designed to inhibit the tyrosinase enzyme that triggers hyperpigmentation. In addition, it’s made to exfoliate dark, dead skin cells from the epidermis to coincide with the skin’s 28-day renewal process.
Many skin brighteners, however, are formulated with hydroquinone and steroids. Worse, roughly one in four skin brightening products sold in the United States contain mercury, often labelled as calomel, mercuric, mercurous or mercurio.
Mercury is linked to a variety of psychological and neurological issues and can cause kidney problems. In some cases, such skin brighteners can cause mercury poisoning that, in pregnant women, can be passed from mother to her fetus.
As a safer alternative, many consumers pursue natural skin brightening, with a lightening product formulated with gentle exfoliants, plant-based sun filters and natural ingredients, including niacinamide and beta glucan.
A natural skin brightener, like Illuminatural6i by the Skinception line of skin care products, performs the same functions as a conventional skin brightener, with lighter complexion and faded dark spots and blemishes, and may avoid the risks of products with mercury and hydroquinone.
Should you be interested in natural skin brightening, consider Illuminatural6i, as it’s created with alpha-arbutin, which in a Chinese study, was 60% more effective for its skin-lightening effects that hydroquinone, and as studies indicate, is much safer.