Dealing With Dark Spots: The Most Effective Options For Your Treatment Plan

Some skin concerns simply can’t be touched with over-the-counter creams and aromatherapy facials. Scratch that. MOST skin concerns can’t be touched with over-the-counter creams and aromatherapy facials. Sorry, but physician-approved skincare, medical-grade facials and aesthetic treatments are something we truly believe in, here at HintMD. You can keep your Crème De La Whatever, thanks very much.

To tackle fine lines, we look to the likes of Botox, Dysport and Xeomin. For thin, sagging skin, we like to arm ourselves with hard-to-beat hyaluronic acid fillers. And for skin discoloration? Well, it’s all about combining treatments and skincare to produce the perfect depigmenting plan that works for your specific concerns. And the earlier you start with this plan, the better. Leave dark spots alone and they will keep growing bigger. You have been warned.

Here, we’ve rounded up a few trusted favorites that have proved super-successful with beauty members at our key practices.

1. Sunscreen

Before you go even one step further, ensure you’re slathering your skin in broad-spectrum, medical-grade sunscreen. Every. Day. Of. The. Year. The main cause of uneven, pigmented skin is excess exposure to the sun, so avoiding the sun will not only stop discoloration from worsening, but it will also ward off future issues. Try adding Alastin HydraTint Pro Mineral Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 36 to your daily skincare routine – it’s a total winner.

2. IPL

Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) is a great recommendation for patients with age spots, unwanted freckles or other discolorations caused by sun damage. IPL works by sending a beam of light to seek out melanin. It then absorbs and breaks up the pigment, making it less visible to the naked eye. A series of treatments is always needed to make a significant difference to your skin, so speak to your aesthetic expert about the right option and frequency for your skincare plan. It’s also worth remembering that you should never use IPL or lasers on melanoma, so make sure your discoloration is properly checked and diagnosed before jumping in head first with the wrong treatment.

3. Chemical Exfoliants

Chemical exfoliants are the cat’s whiskers at correcting dark spots, and most fall into two camps: AHAs and BHAs. AHAs are naturally-occurring, water-soluble substances extracted from fruit or milk sugars, while BHAs are oil-soluble. This means that while AHAs are great for exfoliating the top layer of your skin and dealing with mild to moderate sun damage, BHAs are much better at exfoliating on a deeper level because they have the ability to penetrate into your pores. Try an AHA such as glycolic acid to treat surface discoloration concerns, or go for a BHA like salicylic acid for deeper dark spots. PS: salicylic acid is derived from aspirin, giving it antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and making it perfect for also treating acne-prone skin. We love SkinMedica AHA/BHA Cream which combines the medical-grade power of both. Genius.

4. Hydroquinone Cream

Hydroquinone is the most common topical solution for treating stubborn skin discolorations. And perhaps the most controversial. Often referred to as HQ, hydroquinone is a very effective skin lightener due to its ability to inhibit melanin production. Prescription-strength hydroquinone is seen as the gold standard for doctor treatment, but it can cause sensitivity and leave the skin susceptible to the sun, which is why alternative treatments are often preferred. The FDA currently recognizes HQ to be a safe ingredient, but due to dangers associated with the substance such as allergic reactions, ochronosis (a skin condition) and potential carcinogenic properties, it’s been banned in parts of Europe, Australia and Asia. Concerned about HQ? Always consult with your aesthetic physician to find out whether it’s the right choice for you. If not, they can recommend suitable alternatives.

5. Fractional Laser Resurfacing

Probably one of the most intense options for eradicating pigmentation, fractional lasers are not for the faint-hearted. They are, however, extremely effective for kicking serious, nothing-seems-to-budge-it discoloration out of the park. Similar to IPL, fractional lasers work by creating controlled micro injuries in the skin which stimulate its natural healing process. Many of our physicians offer the best resurfacing lasers on the market, including Fraxel, Clear + Brilliant and Halo as part of their aesthetic subscription offerings. You’d be wise to get in on one of these if long-term or stubborn pigmentation concerns are getting you down.

6. HydraFacial

The mighty HydraFacial is a big favorite with beauty members across our subscription platform. Why? Because like Steph Curry and Beyoncé, it’s pretty much good at everything. With small adjustments and modifications to your specific treatment, the benefits of regular HydraFacials (many of our aesthetic physicians recommend monthly, or six-weekly treatments, btw) include: smoothing fine lines, improving texture and tone, refining enlarged pores, hydrating your skin and removing congestion. But most importantly for you, because, after all, that’s why you’re here, HydraFacials work wonders for visibly lightening uneven pigmentation. And if this all sounds too good to be true for a treatment that is totally non-invasive? Believe us, it’s not.

7. Chemical Peels

Medical-grade peels that contain salicylic, trichloroacetic or glycolic acid are particularly effective for melasma. They work by injuring the skin on a superficial level to provoke a wound-healing response that sheds and expels unwanted dark patches. It really is as simple as that. Chemical peels can eliminate new discoloration issues in one session, but if you have older, deeper concerns, a series of three or four appointments is usually recommended, followed by maintenance treatments on a less regular basis. We’re big fans of The Perfect Derma Peel and VI Peel.

8. Retinol

Retinol is highly effective at lightening the skin and brightening the complexion. Due to its ability to stimulate cell replication and collagen production, when used on a regular basis (ie: nightly) retinol significantly helps improve and even reverse sun damage. Our product pick for tackling such issues? Neocutis Nouvelle + Retinol Correction Cream which includes 0.6 percent retinol as well as the brand’s patent-pending, hydroquinone-free Melaplex ® to help diminish the appearance of dark spots and uneven skin tone.