When exposure to sun, pollution and other factors has damaged skin to the point of an uneven skin tone, using Vitamin C-based skincare can correct and remove those dark spots.
First, what are dark spots
Dark spots, also known as liver spots, age spots, or solar lentigines, can be the result of aging, ultraviolet (UV) exposure, acne, hormones, genetics, tobacco or pollution. A darkening of the skin develops when an excess of melanin, the brown pigment that produces normal skin color, forms deposits in the skin.
Primarily first developing on middle-aged and older skin, dark spots generally increase in size and number over the years as a person ages.
damage caused by the sun has been found to lead to wrinkles and sagging as well as sun spots
What causes dark spots
Known as hyperpigmentation, the production of melanin-forming skin cells (melanocytes) increases and accumulates in the superficial layer of the skin due to a number of factors. As the years roll by, a cumulative effect of UV exposure, pollution and hormones can lead to an increase in melanin production and the intensity of hyperpigmentation. When exposed to UV rays, the skin produces melanin to protect itself, leading to the gradual development of tanned skin. However, this melanin can accumulate and lead to permanent dark spots on the skin, making the sun one of the primary causes of dark spots.
Changes in the skin brought about by UV radiation are due partly to the formation of free oxidizing radicals that cause deterioration of cell structures and functions (lipid peroxidation), DNA damage (oxidative stress) or proteins, leading to deregulation in the expression of some genes (Source: Niki, 1991). This process of photoaging – damage caused by the sun, has been found to lead to wrinkles and sagging as well as sun spots(1).
How to prevent: UV protection
For decades, Western culture has attached much aesthetic value to skin tanning. However, as early as the 1930s, specialists warned about the likely long-term negative impact of sun exposure on skin aging. Since then, a large body of research has confirmed this negative effect: proving that exposing skin to sun without protection leads to skin damage, be it immediate effects such as sunburn, or longer lasting repercussions like sun spots(2). Using skincare that incorporates filters to protect and restore our cells is imperative in preventing against and removing age spots(3). By the time dark spots have appeared, you may be thinking it’s too late for sun protection to make a difference. But actually, when skin is protected from the sun, it can restores its natural functioning.
Vitamin C and the body
There are 13 vitamins indispensable to the body and holding an important place for the skin is Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, a naturally-occurring antioxidant. Vitamin C is well known for its protective and preventive properties in countering fatigue and infection, but it also offers other important antioxidant indications, particularly in dermatology(4) – and particularly when it comes to dark spots.
The human body is unable to produce Vitamin C molecules by itself, and so must absorb it through sources such as citrus fruits, leafy vegetables and certain berries(6). With age, sun damage and exposure to pollution cause a depletion in normal levels of vitamin C.
Vitamin C and the skin
To remove age spots, look out for topical skincare containing Vitamin C. Vitamin C corrects UV-induced dark spots - the natural solution for the results of a peel. Vitamin C helps remove dark spots in two key ways: By neutralizing the free radicals that age our skin, to prevent the damage caused by UV radiation, together with reducing the intensity of melanin formation, and thereby hyperpigmentation(7).
To remove age spots, exfoliate weekly
Exfoliation can help to even out skin tone by removing dead skin cells. Go further with an exfoliation routine containing Vitamin C to create a more homogeneous complexion, as it keeps your complexion fresh and smooth by allowing all the potent ingredients packed in your skincare to penetrate into skin(8).
1: Telang, P.S. 'Vitamin C in dermatology' in Indian Dermatology Online Journal 4.2 (2013) pp. 143-146 [Accessible at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3673383/]
2: Vashi, N.A. et al, 'Aging Differences in Ethnic Skin' in The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology (2016) pp. 31-38 [Accessible at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4756870/]
3: Darr et al: Protecting activity on cutaneous structures exposed to UV (1992)
4: Farris, P.K. ‘Cosmetical Vitamins: Vitamin C’, in Procedures in Cosmetic Dermatology. 2nd ed. New York: Saunders Elsevier (2009) pp. 51–6.
5: Geesin et al Dossier Roche Collagen I and III synthesis (2002)
6: Lykkesfeldt, J. 'Vitamin C' in Advances in Nutrition 5.1 (2014) pp. 16-18 [Accessible at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3884093/]
7: Farris, P.K. ‘Cosmetical Vitamins: Vitamin C’, in Procedures in Cosmetic Dermatology. 2nd ed. New York: Saunders Elsevier (2009) pp. 51–6.
8: Rashmi, S. et al, ‘Cosmeceuticals for Hyperpigmentation: What is available?’ in Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery 6.1, (2013) pp. 4-11