|My favorite brand of sunscreen.|
I have fair skin that is prone to freckles and sun spots even when I take care to protect myself with sunscreen, hats and long sleeved shirts when out in the sun. These darkened spots are otherwise known as hyperpigmentation.
And although there are a lot of people out there who don't mind it, and even liking it. I don't. I find my freckles annoying. Can't help it.
During the course of trying to get rid of them using natural treatments, I've found some ways that are more effective than others while still remaining safe, so I thought I'd share them here.
What is Hyperpigmentation?
Hyperpigmentation is caused by the excessive production of melanin in the skin, which can cause uneven skin tone and dark patches on a person's complexion. This isn't restricted to the face, although it is more often noticed there. Hyperpigmentation can pop up on any part of the body, including on the shoulders, arms, hands and legs.
What Causes Hyperpigmentation?
There are several causes of hyperpigmentation. Most commonly it is associated with spending too much time under the sun. This is because the body produces more melanin when faced with ultraviolet radiation, which can burn the skin.
However, injury can also cause hyperpigmentation, for example from a wound that inflamed. Darkening of the skin can take place after the wound has healed, even if it doesn't leave an obvious scar, the skin in that area may be darker. Many might notice this after a bout of acne has healed, especially if the condition was aggravated due to picking. This could cause pimples to become even more inflamed and increase the chances of hyperpigmentation taking place.
One often overlooked cause of hyperpigmentation is changes that take place inside the body. Hormonal changes due to pregnancy or health issues could cause a darkening of the skin and a general discoloration in a person's complexion. Certain medications may also cause chemical imbalances within the body that could cause hyperpigmentation.
So How Can it be Treated Naturally?
1. Drink lots of water
Make sure you're staying well hydrated by drinking plenty of water and taking in a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables. Keeping your body hydrated helps your skin cells stay healthy and turn over at a more regular rate. The more often your skin turns over, the more quickly you will shed dead skin cells to produce new layers of skin that will be free of cells affected by hyperpigmentation.
2. Exfoliate often
But not too often! You can help the turnover of your skin cells by remembering to frequently, but gently exfoliate your face and body.
There are many ingredients you can use on your face and body to help your skin remove dead skin cells and regenerate new ones.
This is my go-to exfoliant.
You don't always have to throw them away, use it as a body exfoliant.
Just use a towel
|For funsies, mix honey with yogurt for an extra decadant|
exfoliating mask. Or just eat it as a snack, preferably
NOT after you've already used it as a mask.
Raw organic honey is fantastic for sloughing off dead skin cells and leaving your skin supple and smooth after you rinse it off. This is why I use it as a face wash! Slather some onto your skin and leave it on for 10 or 20 minutes, then rinse it off with water. It tends to drip, so be careful of moving around too much or you may get your furniture and floors sticky.
Or you can try this honey and corn starch recipe.
Milk and yogurt
Milk and yogurt both contain lactic acid that work wonders for gently lifting away dead skin cells and softening the skin. Apply plain yogurt (that is free of other additives and sugar) onto the affected area and leave it there for 10 to 20 minutes, then simply rinse off with water. This works so well that use milk when I do at-home manicures/pedicures. I also occasionally draw soothing milk baths for a relaxing, full-body exfoliating treatment.
Aloe vera is a handy substance to use to help remove dead skin cells and promote the turnover of new cells. There is also the added bonus of it being naturally anti inflammatory, which means it soothes your sin as well. Simply slather a thin layer on the affected areas and leave it there for a few hours before rinsing it off, as it is mild enough that you can leave it on for that length of time without irritating your skin. Some people like to put it on as a mask before bed and rinse it off in the morning, but I find it rather uncomfortable to sleep that way. However, do whatever makes you happy.
3. Use a natural bleach
I'm sure many of already heard about how lemon makes a great skin-lightening agent due to its citric acid properties. Simply rub some fresh lemon juice onto the affected areas of your body and leave it on for at least 10 minutes, then simply rinse it off with water. Shorten the time if the acid of the juice begins to make you feel uncomfortable. I find this remedy is safe to do once a day, but lessen the frequency or dilute the lemon juice with some water if you find your skin becoming a little too sensitive.
Apple cider vinegar is also a great natural ingredient to use to lighten the skin. Simply dilute the vinegar with the same amount of water, and rub the solution on the affected area. Leave it on for about 10 minutes, but again, rinse it off sooner if you begin to feel uncomfortable.
4. DON'T TOUCH
Spending time analyzing the areas of your skin that are hyperpigmented and picking at it won't make it go away faster. If anything, you may just make it worse by irritating the area or introducing bacteria from your fingers to the site, causing an infection. Leave it alone. If it's meant to go away, it will.
What are the So-called Treatments I SHOULDN'T try?
There are many other sites and blogs out there that swear by the techniques below for getting rid of hyperpigmentation. However, I personally don't use them as I consider them too harsh or abrasive for the skin to be used safely.
I'm not saying they don't work, nor am I discouraging others out there to try it, but they are simply not for me.
For example, sugar has long been touted as a great ingredient to use in home made exfoliants. I personally never use sugar in my bath recipes. I don't consider sugar a great thing to put on the skin, or even inside the body if you can help it. Sugar easily breeds bacteria and yeast infections, and if you have especially sensitive or acne-prone skin, you could be exacerbating the problem rather than helping it by using sugar. Whenever a scrub recipe calls for sugar, I prefer substituting it for salt or coffee grounds instead.
Tumeric has been touted as a great way to hyperpigmented skin due to its bleaching and natural antiseptic properties. However, it find it too abrasive for skin ... probably due to its strong natural antiseptic properties.
Cinnamon is also commonly listed as an ingredient in recipes for home made scrubs as a great exfoliant and skin-lightening agent. However, it is an incredibly harsh spice that can easily irritate the skin, and cause pain if it accidentally gets into your eyes or up your nose. Moreover, if you accidentally spill it on your clothing, the stain is impossible to get rid of! I opt to simply stay away and save myself the hassle.
There you go, a list of natural ways that I think can help lighten skin hyperpigmentation. I should note that these are surefire remedies to help you get rid of freckles and sun spots. Sometimes they're simply there to stay and there's nothing you can do about it, unless you go see a dermatologist to seek more aggressive medical treatment. However, these are natural treatments that I think are more effective than anything else.
At the end of day, it's always easier to prevent hyperpigmentation than trying to fix it later by protecting yourself when you're out under the skin, and trying to maintain the chemical and hormonal balance inside your body by trying stay as healthy as you can.