What to do about those dark spots on the skin.

Sunspots, age spots, these dark spots can creep up when we least expect them. Such telltale signs of sun damage, hormonal influence and exposure to the elements take their toll on our complexion- even as early as in our twenties.

The culprit? Hyper-pigmentation. This occurs when melanin (a brown/black pigment that is naturally produced in the skin to act as a protective gshieldh) goes into overdrive when triggered by free radical oxidation damage from the sun, hormones, stress, and other environmental and lifestyle factors. This leaves a build up of pigment on our skin that we experience as gdark spotsh. Signs of hyper-pigmentation damage can actually lie beneath the surface of the skin and not be visible for years.

Anti-oxidants are the first line of defense. They help maintain the health and vitality of the skin, especially as it ages and the levels of natural anti-oxidants decline. Anti-oxidant compounds such as vitamin E, glutathione and coenzyme Q10 are known to decrease significantly with age, lowering the anti-oxidant protective capacity of the skin against damage. Anti-oxidants are capable of stabilizing free radicals before they can cause harm.

Wear sunscreen year-round. Use broad spectrum (UVA/UVB protection) sunscreen with a SPF of 15 to 25 year round. Apply sunscreen at least 20 minutes before going outdoors to all skin that will be exposed. Reapply after sweating or being in water. Wear a hat if you know youfll be directly in the sun.

Remove sugar, corn syrup and fructose from your diet as much as possible. Excessive consumption of simple sugars has been linked to hyper-pigmentation as well as a myriad of health conditions. Sugar upsets body chemistry and inhibits proper digestion of nutrients.

A side note regarding Hydroquinone (beware of this one) which is usually associated with use in skin lighteners. It’s one of the most harmful ingredients used in personal care products. Hydroquinone lightens skin by reducing melanin, it simultaneously increases exposure to UVA and UVB rays deep in the skin. This increases skin cancer risks due to UV exposure, in addition to the carcinogenic effects of the chemical itself. The chemical is allowed in personal care products in the U.S. in concentrations up to 2%. Although it is banned in Europe.

What to do about those dark spots on the skin. Hyper-pigmentation can take years to develop on the surface of the skin and is not likely to go away overnight. However, with time and consistent effort it can often be treated naturally. I recommend a multi-pronged approach which includesantioxidant-rich skin care products for daily use, professional facial treatments to target areas of concern, in combination with the above suggestions and a balanced diet of organic seasonal vegetables, whole grains and beans. Your plate should contain at least 3 colors of mainly veggies, fruits, and grains with a small amount of protein, such as cold-water fish, beans, nuts or seeds.Varying your diet to include a wide range of vital nutrients is important to remember when planning your meals. See our attached colorful food chart for a list of foods rich in anti-oxidants.

Teresa Moore, Skin Care Specialist, at Pret-a-Porter Salon & Spa.
Contact me for a complimentary personalized skin care consultation.

The above information is presented for educational purposes. It is advised to consult with your doctor before starting a new diet.

Recommended reading:
Lick The Sugar Habit. By Nancy Appleton, PhD
Glow. By Christina Pirello