Don’t you just hate it when at a time you need to look your best you’ll suddenly discover a few dark spots marring an otherwise perfect visage? Believe it or not, this happens more often than you think and can be attributed to a number of causes including excessive sun exposure, hormonal changes, facial hair removal, acne, skin injury and yes, even aging.
It doesn’t help that aside from those factors affecting the appearance of skin, dark spots even take on different types like melasma (a darkening of the skin attributable to several factors, mostly hormonal), lentigines (dark spots found scattered throughout the face and body commonly called liver spots), pimples and post inflammatory hyperpigmentation (skin injury induced inflammation that results in dark spots). Naturally, these different types require different remedies, thus making the treatment of dark spots even more complicated.
Of course, one can easily resort to a number of medical interventions like laser treatment, chemical peels, microdermabrasion and cryosurgery to solve dark spots—at least physically. However, these treatments require expense and depending on the degree of treatment may at times be deemed expensive.
However, we can look at Mother Nature for help—along with inexpensive OTC supplements that can help treat and lighten dark spots without burning a hole in one’s pockets. Here are a few you can consider:
Try Lemons. If avocados are the “in” fruit, lemons are the “in” citrus. Lemonade is not only a long-running favoured drink, the use of lemons in treating dark spots also highlights its versatility and inexpensiveness. One method of using lemon is to use lemon juice, added to some filtered water. Just use cotton balls to dab the resulting lemon and water mixture all over the face. Leave for 20 minutes and wash with water and soap. Try to do this every other day and you will see dark spots lighten.
As mentioned, lemon or rather lemon juice is so versatile that you can mix it with yogurt to create a face mask. This mask combines the bleaching effects of lemon and the brightening effects of the lactic acid in yogurt. Just apply on the face and leave on for 30 minutes. Wash with clean water and try to do it twice a week.
Vitamin E. Just buy an OTC Vitamin E capsule. Prick with a pin to remove the oily contents and apply or rub directly on the affected parts of the skin. This will reduce the discoloration of the skin—especially the dark spots. Why is Vitamin E effective? Vitamin E is actually an antioxidant that targets free radicals that cause aging and discoloration while repairing damaged cells. It can also be used as is, without the assistance of water or other solvents. Expense is also not a problem, a capsule of Vitamin E is very inexpensive and is readily available in most drugstore chains. Do this daily before going to bed.
Have some potato. Yes, the potato. It seems that this root crop is not just good as an
accompaniment to fish and as an ingredient to stews, but also does wonders to discoloured skin. It is rich in starch and sugar—both of which are great skin exfoliators. What most people don’t know, however, is that the potato is rich with vitamins and minerals like vitamin B6, vitamin C, potassium, zinc and phosphorus that help rejuvenate the collagen production of the skin. Hence, you will not only have lighter skin but younger skin as well due to the increased collagen. Just slice the potato and moisten the slices with some water. Place on dark spots and leave them on for 10 minutes. Do this daily until results are apparent.
Buttermilk. Applying buttermilk to freckles and other sun-caused dark spots has long been a traditional treatment for lightening skin. Considering its history its effectiveness remains unquestioned. Just use a cotton ball to apply the buttermilk on the affected dark spots. Leave on the skin for about 20 minutes. Wash with clean water. Do this daily until skin lightens.
You can also mix buttermilk with tomato juice. Both have bleaching properties that some contend deliver results faster than just by using buttermilk alone.
Hello, Aloe Vera. The soothing gel of aloe vera has always been associated with the treatment of burns. But did you know that it can also treat dark spots? Well it can actually do much more than that as it contains amino acids, vitamins A, B, C and E; beta-carotene, along with analgesic and antiseptic properties. If you need a quick moisturizer fix, the aloe vera gel is also great as a quick substitute. Just slice an aloe vera leaf and remove the gel inside. Place on affected dark spots and leave on for 20 minutes. Wash with clean water. Do this daily until skin noticeably lightens.
Chickpeas. Also known as garbanzos, this pea-like seed is well-known as an ingredient in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cooking. Don’t be fooled by its hard exterior though as this unassuming lumpy seed contains manganese and molybdenum among others (e.g. vitamin B). Manganese is known to rejuvenate skin by attacking free radicals that cause wrinkles. Molybdenum on the other hand, detoxifies skin while vitamin B repairs skin damage caused by the sun. The presence of manganese and molybdenum makes chickpeas unique and perfect for ridding skin of dark spots and discoloration. Just mash boiled chickpeas and once cool, blend with water to create a paste. Apply to the skin or affected dark spots and leave on for 30 minutes. Wash with clean water. Do this daily until dark spots lighten.
Turmeric. Turmeric has long been touted as a wonder root crop that cures a variety of diseases—not necessarily skin-related. It contains curcumin which is a powerful antioxidant that fights free radicals and helps lighten dark spots. The only drawback with turmeric is the orange color that sticks to the skin. However, other ingredients can help reduce this sticky but colourful problem. One such method is by combining turmeric powder with lemon juice and water to create a paste. Apply as a thin paste on the face. Gently massage into affected areas and leave on for a few minutes. Wash off with clean water. Do this thrice a week. A word of caution, don’t leave the face mask on for more than 15 minutes as it might stain the skin. If possible use a gentle cleanser when washing the face.
Cosmo Skin GSE. Considering all the above natural remedies, why should a health supplement be included? Well, Cosmo Skin GSE, like almost the above contains an antioxidant in the form of Grape Seed Extract, that as its name suggests is naturally sourced. As an antioxidant it protects the skin from free radicals that cause wrinkling and dark spots due to the presence of procyanadins in grape seeds. This very natural component of GSE has been proven to be particularly effective in correcting dark spots caused by sun exposure, hormonal change; while at the same time being a preventive for skin damage caused by melasma—a condition afflicting 90 percent of women between 20 to 55 years of age, characterized by dark, reddish patches on the skin.