Hyperpigmentation is a condition that causes dark spots to appear on the skin due to the overproduction of melanin. While physically harmless in most cases, these bothersome dark spots can certainly cause emotional damage, resulting in stress and frustration. If you've ever experienced hyperpigmentation, you understand the desire for a clear complexion, and in pursuit of a smoother tone, you may be tempted to reach for popular treatments that promise impressive results. However, since your skin plays such a crucial role in your overall health, it is important to consider a product's ingredients and their effects on your body.
Unfortunately, just because a particular treatment is widely used doesn't mean it is safe or healthy for your skin. In fact, many mainstream products contain hydroquinone as their main ingredient, which studies have shown is toxic to cells. The following information reveals just a few reasons why you should think twice about using hydroquinone to treat dark spots.
The way hydroquinone works is by inhibiting your body's natural production of melanin, which is your skin's primary defense against ultraviolet radiation. More effective than any store-bought sunscreen, melanin diffuses UV rays, protecting your skin from their harmful effects. If you suppress melanin production, you increase your exposure to UVA and UVB rays, which often leads to further skin discoloration.
Long-term hydroquinone use can lead to a skin condition known as ochronosis. Most likely to occur when using high concentrations of the substance, ochronosis causes skin to turn blue and black.
When exposed to the sun, hydroquinone turns toxic. The effects of this toxicity can range from leathery and bumpy skin to irritation, redness and dermatitis.
This harmful substance also has a thinning effect on the epidermis. Posing serious consequences in the event of a surgical procedure or wound, a thin epidermis takes longer to repair cuts, stitches or other lacerations.
Upon conducting a study on hydroquinone-containing products, the FDA reported the potential for cancer in rodents that were administered high doses of the material. With this in mind, the organization has suggested a ban on such products.
While hydroquinone may not be a friend to your skin, natural alternatives exist that are not only more effective but also safer. Azelaic and kojic acid are two of these natural treatments that can be used to combat dark spots.
Azelaic acid is derived from barley, wheat or rye. A by-product of nature, it is considered safe and even beneficial to your skin. In treating hyperpigmentation, several studies in the Philippines and South America revealed that a solution containing 20 percent azelaic acid is more effective than a product containing 2 percent hydroquinone.
As opposed to stripping away your body's natural protection against sunlight, it works by selectively targeting overactive melanin cells, leaving beneficial melanocytes to do their job.
Azelaic acid is also antibacterial and helps fight against free radicals, so its benefits to your skin extend further than simply treating dark spots.
Kojic acid is an all-natural by-product of fermented rice that acts as a bleaching agent while being gentle on the skin.
Kojic acid is able to lighten the skin by limiting its production of melanin. Instead of destroying melanin cells, it works in an alternative way to suppress tyrosinase, which is an enzyme that's needed to produce melanin.
Time tested and widely studied by scientists and dermatologists alike, kojic acid is proven to be both safe and effective.
Especially beneficial for people with the most sensitive skin, kojic acid does not cause redness, rashes or dermatitis.
Though hyperpigmentation is distressing, treating it with a dangerous substance would do more damage to your complexion than the actual dark spots. With this in mind, consider the many benefits of natural alternatives such as azelaic and kojic acid. Equally as effective as hydroquinone, both acids treat dark spots while nurturing your skin and allowing it to maintain the protective