What can I do about my Dark spots? Help for hyperpigmentation.

I know I have shared with you all about the fact that I am a Skin Care specialist for an amazing local dermatologist.  I have been in the medical field for over 25 years.  I have talked to you all about moisturizers, and acne, and today I want to talk some about another issues that are very problematic.  DARK SPOTS!!!!!

Dark spots, or hyperpigmentation (the correct medical term) is a skin problem that can affect men and women of all ages, and can be very embarrassing and make people self conscious. It affects how we feel about the way we look.  Acne is troublesome also, but that can usually be cleared up rather quickly with the correct medication.  Dark spots do not clear up as quickly, and sometimes it can take a combination of preventative measures, corrective products and procedures to keep our skin looking the way we want it to look.  I am going to talk today about Melasma, sun damage, and acne induced dark spots.
I understand the difficulties of uneven skin tone and dark areas on your skin very well.  Not only do 95% of my patients come see me to correct uneven skin tone, but I also suffer from an uneven skin tone problem.  I am an olive complected caucasian, and I have a skin condition called Melasma.  That is where I want to start today.

Melasma is a skin condition that affects women more than men, and is caused by our hormones, (great, one more thing to blame our hormones on).  It affects all skin tones (caucasian, african american, asian and latin) people.  It can sometimes be easier to see on women with a lighter skin tone (skin tone 1-2) because of the contrast between their regular skin tone and the melasma.  The skin is usually “splotchy”.  The dark areas do not have even borders, and can even appear like “spatters” of dark spots on the face.  As if someone took a paintbrush and dipped in a darker skin tone and then spattered your face with the darker color.

Melasma on my forehead
Melasma on my forehead

Those are a few ways it can look on different skin tones.  The skin can look as if you have a mustache on the upper lip.  It is also referred to as the “mask of pregnancy”.  That is because often when women are pregnant and their hormones are all over the place, melasma shows up.  I can tell you though that you DO NOT have to be pregnant to get melasma.

Sun damaged skin can look very similar to Melasma, however, it usually shows up looking more like dark brown circles on the face that have very clear borders, unlike melasma. Sun damage spots are more visible in skin tones that are lighter such as caucasian, asian and latin.  African American and Arabic skin, while it can also get sun damage will have less than lighter skin tones because of the darker skin tones, which offer more protection from sun damage than lighter skin tones.

Then there are the dreaded spots from acne.  Patients will call me and say they have “acne scarring”, or “Blemishes” or simply “dark spots” from acne.  These discolorations can occur on the face, neck, chest, shoulders and back.  Anywhere there has been an acne bump.  Acne causes redness and inflammation many times, and in skin of color inflammation or redness commonly leads to a dark spot.  The dark spots will be worse if you “pick” or “squeeze” your acne bumps.

Dark spots caused by acne.
Dark spots caused by acne.

Okay, so I have told you about a few different kinds of hyperpigmentation.  So now you want to know what you can do to make it GO AWAY!!  Right?  okay, I will talk about that now.

So what can you do to clear up your skin???  Well, the first step is to prevention.  For melasma and sun damage that means 1) SPF 30 (at least) sunscreen on your face EVERY day that you are outside.  2) Try not to be in direct sunlight without covering your face with a hat, visor, umbrella, etc.  I wear a visor ALL summer long.  We went to the beach for our weekly vacation and my body was protected with sunscreen.  My face was protected with a big floppy hat.  If my arms and legs are brown and my face is not I am totally okay with that.  I battle melasma all the time, so I protect my face from the sun as much as possible.  HATS are your best friend.

For acne the best prevention is an appointment with a good dermatologist to get medication that will prevent you form continuing to get bumps.  I talk more about acne and treatments here.  Truly the key with acne is the proper medication to keep the bumps from coming in the first place.  Second, if you do get bumps, DO NOT PICK, SQUEEZE or otherwise mess with them.  That will help tremendously to avoid dark spots!

The next step is products.  There are even prescriptions you can use to help with lightening dark spots.  Specifically the medication is “Hydroquinone”.  It has 4% hydroquinone which is a skin lightener in it, however it can be VERY expensive (most of the time at least $60.00 to sometimes over $100.00).  For comparison, a very nice over the counter product you can use to lighten dark spots is Ambi, or Porcelana fading cream.  They have 2% hydroquinone, so they are less potent than a prescription, but are more affordable.

However, my FAVORITE product that I have had LOTS of success with (I use it myself and LOVE it),  is Genius Ultra Pads by Arbonne. I have sold this product to many patients, and every single one of them has seen improvement using it. (I use it and it works for me also) As a matter of fact, most of them say it works better than the prescription Hydroquinone.  It is used in the evening and is botanically based which is why I love it so much.  It has ingredients in there that are botanical: phytinol (plant retinol), mandelic acid, grain alcohol, and other botanical ingredients.  Those botanics are natural lighteners and it works beautifully, and smells great!!



Step three is procedures that are done in the doctor’s office or a spa.  Procedures administered in a doctor’s office are generally stronger than the ones at a spa, but not always.  In our office we administer Theraplex and Vitalize peels as well as microdermabrasions (which are for people who cannot tolerate a peel).  While a peel will usually work more quickly on dark spots, not everyone can tolerate a peel, and if a peel is used on a sensitive person the skin can be burned and permanently damaged.  Lower strength Glycolic peels can be purchased online as well, and used at home, but I would caution anyone who is considering doing that to make sure your skin can tolerate a peel.  Truly the best way to know is to make an appointment with a skin care specialist, dermatologist, etc who has been trained to know what questions to ask, and understands the complexities of skin.  Everyone is different and because there is the potential for long term or even permanent damage to ones skin, proceeding with care is important!  The peels we administer are: Theraplex 20% and 30% salicylic acid peels  and Vitalize peels which are Salicylic acid, lactic acid, resorcinol, and retinoic acid.  Obviously the Vitalize peels are stronger, however I have used them on people of all skin tones.

We also administer microdermabrasions for dark spots on people who cannot tolerate chemical peels.  They sometimes take a bit longer to see results, but over time they work well also.  We use the smart peel microdermabrasion system, but there are others that work well also.

Some physicians have also touted laser as the best way to remove dark spots from acne, sun damage and melasma.  I have to admit I have never used a laser on a patient but I can tell you while I have heard very good things about them, please do your research. Lasers can be costly, and it can take many treatments.  In addition laser is not as effective on darker skin tones.  It is best suited for lighter Caucasian skin.  I as a darker toned Caucasian would need to be cautious also.

There are many other treatments, products and peel systems out there.  The best thing I can say is if you have questions do your research, find a good Dermatologist and make an appointment. If they don’t answer your questions to your satisfaction, find another one.  Doctors are vying for business and are affected by the recession just as we all are.  Therefore they WANT your business and should work to keep your business.  And if you live in the Hampton Roads area and have questions, let me know, I give FREE consultations and work on Mon – Sat.   If you don’t live near me, come visit!!!  🙂

One thought on “What can I do about my Dark spots? Help for hyperpigmentation.

    1. I had a scar for ever and nothing works to get rid of these dark spots there is treatment but not the right shit once your marked on the face as a black your treated like an asshole because people can’t see that the hurt doctors are full of shit too the best shit they give they family and send you to pick up some bull shit that don’t work take all the face cream I got and throw them shits in the fuckin trash even the cream you got to bet that shit don’t any cream for the face should be a fast working treatment that has been take off the shelf in store and away from you take doctors

      1. Andre PLEASE feel free to email me directly at carolrood1@aol.com. I am a professional Esthethician and may be able to help you with your skin. I agree that most of what the doctors prescribe doesn’t work and the medicine is usually VERY expensive. I would be happy to chat FREE to see if I can help!

  1. Great article, thank you. I have had the “age spots” pop up on my face in the last two years (I am 42). I have also had some success with Aveeno skin brightening cream.

    1. Nikki,

      Aveeno is a great product! You might also try Porcelana or Ambi fading cream. Hydroquinone is a fading treatment. Those two products I mentioned have 2% hydroquinone. They may help the dark spots move away more quickly! Good luck!!

  2. Nothing’s working for me, nothing at all. Tried EVERYTHING. I wear zinc sunblock even in the house EVERYDAY, hats (not in house) the works, and nothing. I used to get laser, my derm said it could worsen Melasma. Oh, the bleaching mask is effective somewhat (better than nothing), however, you have to keep getting them for life, except in the summer, they’re expensive, but after several treatments I do see a difference. I use Rx bleaching cream helps keep it at bay. For me, not just avoiding sunlight but heat. Getting over heated aggravates Melasma. Oh, did I mention I also have hypo pigmentation and Rosacea. I rarely go out especially day time. I look better at nite. Am I self-conscious YOU BET CHA. Thank God it’s not worse, but bad enough. sighhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

    1. Owen,
      Gosh, I am so sorry you are dealing with this. I wish you lived in the Tidewater area of Virginia. I do free consultations and would love to be able to help you figure something out. I am assuming you see a Dermatologist on a regular basis. To be honest I struggle with the dark spots and melasma as well. What seems to work best for me is the DCL skin brightening treatment twice daily (I get NOTHING for talking about their product. btw), and microdermabrasions. I have found that peels just don’t work as well for keeping my skin tone more even. I know it will never be perfectly even, but keeping the dark spots at bay is a job in itself!!!!

    2. Hello, I also have Melasma and even the heat makes it worse. I feel your pain. You know what have worked for me? (not that my face is all clear up) about two years ago, I started following a Korean skincare routine which involves 7 to 12 steps. I use different Korean brands, but I have seen a huge improvement in my skin. People tell me I have glowing skin:)) Not all but a lot go Korean women rather buy skincare products than make up! which I love because I don’t wear make up:) look up online for korean skincare routines or on youtube. I hope this helps!!

  3. I purchased the DCL lightening Gel.. Did I purchase the incorrect item for my dark upper lip? Can I use this the DCL product you recommended in your story together?

    1. Melissa,the DCL Skin Brightening treatment is GREAT for dark spots. I use it myself. Be sure to use it two times a day for best results, and you only need a drop as it spreads quite well. You don’t have to worry about halo-ing and if you get the gel outside the dark areas you do not have to worry about it. Please feel free to email me at carolrood1@aol.com if yo have any more questions. 🙂

    1. Aliva,

      Please accept my sincere apologies fr the delay in my response. I am a senior in college (yes I am a late bloomer…lol), and my school workload is horrible. I haven’t been on the blog in weeks! Yes the DCL is great for dark areas above the lip. Feel free to email me at Carolrood1@aol.com if you have any further questions.

  4. Hi .. I have damage from hydroquinone on my face, instead of lightining my marks it made it worse. I am afraid to go to a dermatologist because they say just leave it alone. Its very embarrising especially were the discoloration is. Please tell me what I can do to atleast lighten the marks a bit.

    1. Ricardo,

      Please accept my apologies for the delay in my response. MY school work load is horrible and I have not been in the blog in a few weeks! Please feel free to email me at Carolrood1@aol.com. I may have some help in mind for you! And would really like to get more details. Thanks!!

  5. I need your help as soon as you can. The decolaration or dark patches on my forehead started about seven years ago. I have seen many dermatologist and the best they have recommended is hydroquinone 4%. I have been using this and still does but this has not helped my condition. I feel really embarassed by this decoloration. Please help.

    1. Hi Freeman,
      I am so sorry it has taken me so long to get back to you. I am a college student and the last semester was such a difficult semester for me. I truly believe in the DCL sin brightening treatment. It has done wonders for me and so many of my clients. I know you can buy it online for around $40.00. We sell it on the website of my doctor http://www.Quarlesdermatology.com. We sell it for 40.00 plus there would be a shipping charge. I would get it wherever you can get the best price. :-)Is there any possibility you are in Southeast Virginia??

  6. Dear Carol, How can we purchase DCL sin brightening treatment in Europe?
    Is there any chanse to shipp outside USA?
    Thank you in advance

  7. I have used professional grade product from Solvaderm skin care brand called Ace-Ferulic which noticeably lightens hyper-pigmented areas. It contains concentrated vitamin C which acts as a lightening agent to fade areas of hyperpigmentation and gives skin a more even, more luminous tone. It also protects the skin from UV damage and minimizes fine lines.

    1. Ella,
      I looked that product up, and I see that the Vitamin C in there is what is noted to be the lightening agent. I believe that it could definitely work as a lightening agent just fine. I am also glad to hear that it worked for you. My concern with the product is that it retails for $109.00 for 1 oz. That is VERY expensive and out of the price range for many many people. The DCL skin Brightening Treatment is 43.00, and I sell a product made by a company called Arbonne called Revelage that retails for about 45.00. So I could buy 2 of them AND pay for shipping for the cost of one bottle of Ace Ferulic.

  8. Hello! Thank you for posting information and your experience with Melasma. I’m suffering from it and starting to feel really terrible about myself; don’t want to look in the mirror and feel very self conscious even talking to people. I noticed you are in Hampton Roads. I live in Suffolk. Are you still offering free consultations?

    Thank you!

  9. Great post, Carol! After I broke out with acne in high school, it left behind a lot of scars on my face. I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on a laser treatment, so I tried a lot of skin lightening creams. I really noticed a difference after I used the day cream with spf from Porcelana.

  10. hi everybody,

    I have the same problem as you…how nice !
    Just cam back in UK after 2 weeks holidays in south of france where I am from. My face spent nearly one year not seeing the sun as living in the UK now. I had a few sun exposures, as every summer, and with 50 SPF all the time. I got a realy nice tan and after a few days, realised that I had a kind of brow-grey moustache on my upper lip.
    This is basically ruining my life, like all of you I guess. I am crying every day, hiding from everyone, my self esteem goes down the more I look at my face in the mirror.

    I called dermo to get an appointment, I have to wait like 2 months before I get something.

    I am only 25, and I read this is more or less permanent…You can make it fade but never deseapear.

    When it’s due to hormonal issues, it probably has to be treated differently, but Please for those who had sun exposures and moustache episode after that, PLEASE, tell me you found a solution to completely get rid of it ?


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