WHAT CAUSES BROWN SPOTS?
Skin pigmentation problems occur because the body produces either too much or not enough melanin. Melanin is the pigment in skin; it’s produced by specifc cells known as melanocytes. An enzyme called tyrosinase, which is the catalyst that creates the melanin responsible for the color of our skin, eyes, and hair, triggers it. Excess melanin production is caused primarily by chronic unprotected sun exposure or by hormones (particularly during pregnancy or from taking birth control pills).
As far as skin is concerned, depending on how much melanin is present, it provides some amount of sun protection by absorbing the sun’s UV light and functioning as a built-in antioxidant. This explains why darker skin colors are less susceptible to sunburn and to the overall inﬂammatory, aging eﬀects of sun damage. But, “less susceptible” does not mean “immune from problems.”
Also, for those who think getting a tan means you’re getting protection from the melanin changing your skin’s color, you’re not! Tanning is the skin’s response to damage, not a sign you’re getting better protection!
TREATING BROWN SPOTS BEGINS WITH SUNSCREEN!
Without question, the frst line of defense is sun-smart behavior, which means avoidance or, at the very least, careful exposure to UV light, and daily use (365 days a year) and liberal application (and, when needed, reapplication) of a well-formulated sunscreen. Diligent use of a sunscreen alone allows for some repair as well as protection from further sun damage, which is what created the problem in the frst place. This is true for everyone!
No other aspect of controlling or reducing skin discolorations is as important as being careful about exposing your skin to the sun and using sunscreen, SPF 30 or greater, that includes the UVA-protecting ingredients of titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, avobenzone, Mexoryl SXTM (ecamsule), or Tinosorb listed as active. Using eﬀective skin-lightening products, exfoliants, peels, or laser treatments without also using a sunscreen will prove a waste of time and money. Sun exposure is one of the primary causes of the skin discoloration disorder melasma, and treatments cannot keep up with the sun’s daily assault on the skin. Before you look at any other option for brown or ashen skin discolorations, start by applying sunscreen and reducing sun exposure. By “reducing exposure,” we don’t mean just spending less time in direct sunlight or tanning only in the early morning hours; it’s about never getting a tan (indoors or out) and taking other precautions such as wearing a hat, sun-protective clothing, and sunglasses—each time, every time, from now on!
Scary but important fact: One bout of unprotected sun exposure can undo months of progress with a skin-lightening product. There’s simply no room for compromise here: Sun protection and skin lighteners are a package deal. When it comes to treating brown spots, one cannot work well without the other—both play critical roles in lightening the brown spots you see now AND preventing those you don’t want to see later! It almost goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyway: No skin-lightening routine will give you the
results you want if you continue to get a tan; even “a little sun” can stall or reverse months of progress toward getting you the even skin tone you want.
Stated bluntly: Failure to comply here can’t be blamed on the skin-lightening product not working. You have to be willing to commit to avoiding further sun damage.
ADDING A SKIN-LIGHTENER TO YOUR ROUTINE
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