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Why You Have Uneven Skin Tone and How to Improve It

Uneven skin tone is the general term used to describe skin that is discolored, mottled, or blotchy.

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A good concealer or foundation is the quickest way to keep redness and blemishes out of sight, but when your skin begins to sprout shadowy patches and dark spots, then faking a clear complexion with makeup may not be enough. Uneven skin tone is one of the most common skin concerns, and it’s also one of the trickiest to address. This is because it can be caused by a number of internal and external factors—including genetics—and figuring out an effective treatment often requires a deeper understanding of this skin condition.

Causes of Uneven Skin Tone

Hyperpigmentation and uneven skin tone are often considered one and the same primarily because the overproduction of the skin pigment melanin is the top reason that skin looks blotchy and discolored. However, the term “uneven” is simply a general way of describing skin that is blemished and mottled, wherein some areas suffer from partial discoloration and are darker than the rest of the face. Aside from hyperpigmentation, uneven skin tone can also be caused by the following:

Too much sun. That the sun’s UV rays pose a serious threat to your skin needs no further explanation. Aside from sunburn and sensitivity, too much sun exposure also contributes to uneven skin tone as your skin produces more melanin to protect itself from UV damage. This can lead to discoloration in the form of sun spots and dark patches. Uneven skin tone or pigmentation can be caused by a number of internal and external factors that include UV exposure, genetics, hormonal changes, and aging.

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Melasma. This is a hormone-related skin condition that causes gray-brown patches to appear on the face, chin, and neck. While its exact cause is still unclear, melasma is assumed to be the result of melanocytes (the skin’s color-making cells) producing too much pigment or melanin. Individuals with naturally darker skin are more prone to developing this condition, particularly women. Some of its most common triggers include sun exposure, hormonal changes (due to pregnancy or contraceptives), and irritants in makeup and skin care products.

Post-inflammatory pigmentation. This refers to the darkening of the skin as a result of scarring or lesions from acne or wounds.

Not enough exfoliation. Without regular exfoliation, dirt, product residue, and old skin cells can build up on the surface of the skin and lead to a dull, uneven complexion. That’s not surprising considering that our bodies shed thousands upon thousands of dead skin cells each day.

Aging. Age spots or liver spots are irregularly shaped tan, brown, or black patches that typically appear on the skin of adults who are older than 50. They are commonly found in areas that get the most sun exposure such as the top of the hands, face, shoulders, and arms.

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Toxins and pollution. Daily exposure to air pollution and toxic particles and gasses is one of the leading causes of the formation of free radicals. Tiny contaminants and UV light penetrate your dermal layers and deplete your skin’s oxygen levels and strip away nutrients. They contribute to the breakdown of collagen and tissue damage, cause inflammation, and increase the risk of skin problems like acne, pigmentation, and dermatitis.

How to Treat Uneven Skin Tone

Some types of pigmentation are harder to treat than others and may require in-office procedures to achieve your desired results. That said, treating uneven skin tone will not always require you to spend a fortune. Here are some tips on how you can restore your clear complexion even from home.

Exfoliate. If you’re aiming for blemish-free skin, then exfoliation is one skin care step that you can’t ignore. Whether using scrubs or acids, exfoliating regularly rids your skin of dead skin cells, prevents discoloration, encourages cell regeneration, and allows for better product absorption.

TRY: Oceanic Gold Crushed Pearls Facial Scrub – A mildly abrasive, deep-cleansing facial scrub that contains amino acids and antioxidants (from crushed freshwater pearls, Australian kaolin white clay and jojoba beads), Manuka Honey Bio Active 20+, macadamia oil, sea minerals, and aloe vera. It sloughs away dead skin cells, minimizes pores, and improves the appearance of blemishes, discoloration, and scars.

Pay attention to the ingredients. There are hundreds of skin care products that promise to restore and even out your complexion, but as we all know, not all ingredients are created equal. Go for tried-and-tested ones like vitamin C, niacinamide, and retinoids. Aside from their skin-brightening effect, they are also known for their powerful antioxidant and anti-aging benefits. Likewise, exfoliating acids like glycolic, lactic, and azelaic acids help in renewing the surface of the skin and improving tone and clarity.

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Protect, protect, protect. Considering that dark spots are primarily caused by sun-damage, using sunscreen daily—even when it’s cloudy outside—should be a no-brainer. Go for SPF 30 for everyday use and SPF 50 or higher is recommended when spending time at the beach or the slopes. It’s also important to choose a sunscreen with broad-spectrum coverage to protect your skin from both UVA and UVB rays.

Add more antioxidants. One way to counter the effects of free radicals and oxidative stress is by amping up your antioxidant intake (this goes for your diet too). Make sure to add an antioxidant serum to your routine to provide your skin with daily defense against environmental aggressors. Aside from vitamin C, niacinamide, and retinol, other potent antioxidants that help correct and brighten skin tone include resveratrol, coenzyme Q10 (coQ10), vitamin E, and glutathione.

Certain genetic or hereditary factors make some of us more prone to developing dark spots or pigmentation on our skin. But for the most part, uneven skin tone can be effectively prevented and treated with a good skin care routine, the right skin care ingredients, and diligent sun protection.