Are you tired of seeing freckles on your skin every time you look at yourself in the mirror? Well, here’s some good news: You can get rid of freckles and hyperpigmentation once and for all. From serums, creams and natural home remedies to laser treatment, there are many ways you can make your skin look clear and evenly toned.
In this article, we’ll discuss what causes freckles and hyperpigmentation, in what ways you can get rid of them, and how you can prevent them. So, without further ado, let’s jump right in to it.
Freckles are flat, brown spots that appear on your skin. They mostly appear on your face, chest, shoulders, and arms, and they usually appear after exposure to the sun. They are harmless and painless, but some people find them annoying.
Hyperpigmentation occurs as a result of overproduction of melanin which is a natural pigment from which our hair, skin, and irises get their color. Hyperpigmentation can be caused by the following factors:
Although some freckles and dark spots can lighten without treatment, they do require some time – around 6months to a year.
And now let’s see what treatments for freckles and hyperpigmentation there are:
Microdermabrasion is a procedure which involves the use of small particles or a special applicator to sand away dead cells of the skin. It doesn’t require recovery period, but it can cause the skin to become swollen or irritated.
Chemical exfoliators are acids which are used to remove the dead cells of the skin. They contain acids, such as:
The overuse of chemical exfoliators can cause inflammation or irritation. So, if you’re using such products, use them in small amounts because your skin requires time to repair.
One study which examined how effective hydroquinone was in treating facial melasma, which commonly causes hypepigmentation, showed that hydroquinone was an effective hypopigmenting agent in treating this condition and led to fast clinical improvement (1).
The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) labels hydroquinone as GRASE (Generally Regarded As Safe and Effective) active ingredient and classifies it as a bleaching drug product for skin (2).
As an ingredient in cosmetic products, hydroquinone can be safely used. However, a higher concentration of this compound can be harmful or toxic. So, if you’re using cosmetic products that have hydroquinone, use them for a short period of time. And if you notice any unwanted side effects, stop applying them on your skin.
Laser treatment is an aggressive method for fading dark spots. There are laser treatments which remove pigmentation and there are others which work by burning off the skin’s dark layers. So, this method is definitely one that can help you get rid of freckles and hyperpigmentation fast.
One 2015 study which included 50 participants who had freckles, aged 6-43, has found that 1,064 nm Q switched Nd:YAG laser is an effective tool for treating freckles. There was improvement in almost all participants (3).
Laser treatment is usually a safe method. But, it may have side effects as well, such as:
If you’re considering receiving laser treatment, consult your doctor first as they may recommend that you take certain creams or medicines before the treatment. They can also advise you to avoid taking certain prescription drugs before the laser treatment. Also know that it may take you up to 14 days to recover from the procedure, and in order to achieve good results, several sessions are generally required.
A lot of fading creams have hydroquinone, which is considered to fade darkened areas of the skin and inhibit the production of melanin. Fading cream is also known as bleaching cream, and you can buy it by a doctor’s prescription or over the counter.
This type of cream can have unwanted side effects. For instance, it can cause:
In addition, there’s evidence that hydroquinone can cause cancer in mice and other rodents, but there’s no information about the carcinogenic effect of this compound in humans (4).
Chemical peel is treatment which involves applying a chemical solution to remove areas of the skin that are damaged. Freckles are removed by using skin peel which has trichloroacetic or glycolic acid and which is inserted in the middle layers of the skin. When the damaged skin is peeled off, the epidermis forms new skin cells. Potential side effects of chemical peels include:
In addition, if you undergo this treatment, it’ll take you around two weeks to recover. You’ll also be required to apply ointment to your skin as well as avoid exposing to the sun until you’ve recovered completely.
After the treatment, your doctor may advise you to use a retinoid cream or hydroquinone, or maybe both of them, so as to avoid side effects.
Cryosurgery is a local treatment which involves using extreme cold that liquid nitrogen produces to remove skin cells which are abnormal. People who consider undergoing this treatment should know that it doesn’t require long recovery time and anesthesia and it is usually safe. However, cryosurgery may have side effects, such as:
Products such as Renova and Retin-A have retinoic acid that helps increase the production of collagen and elastin, thereby lightening age spots and promoting the growth of new skin. One piece of research has shown that retinol can be used in treating photoaging. Retinol is a substance that belongs to the group of retinoids and it’s known for its ability to improve dyspigmentation and the texture of the skin (5).
However, retinoid solutions can have unwanted side effects. They can increase skin sensitivity to sunlight. So, if you’re using such products, ensure to wear sunscreen before exposing to the sun. Other potential side effects of retinoid solutions include:
Besides the above-mentioned ways to get rid of freckles and hyperpigmentation, you can use natural home remedies for the same purpose.
All the above-mentioned natural remedies are generally harmless. However, some people may be allergic to some of the compounds present in them. Additionally, you should not use essential oils or lemon juice undiluted.
Hyperpigmentation on the neck can occur as a result of skin disorders, exposure to the sun, certain prescription drugs, or hormonal disorders. Getting rid of neck hyperpigmentation usually requires medical treatment, but the following natural home remedies may help you get satisfactory results as well:
When buying such products, look out for these ingredients: Vitamins E and C, beta hydroxy acid, and alpha hydroxy acid. These acids may help decrease pigmentation.
To reduce neck pigmentation, you can prepare masks by using natural ingredients at home. For example, you can mix lemon, honey, papaya, banana, and gram flour. Apply the paste to the skin of your neck, leave it for 2o minutes and then rinse it off with warm water. This mask is packed with vitamins and minerals that can help lighten the darkened skin. You can use the mask twice or thrice a week.
Milk can help lighten the darkened skin thanks to the lactic acid present in it which is known to fade dark spots. All you need to do is soak a cotton ball in a glass of milk and rub it over the skin. You can rinse it off after approximately half an hour.
The acetic acid present in this vinegar is known to fade pigmentation. However, do not use plain apple cider vinegar – dilute it with water and then apply it to your skin. You can do this once or twice daily.
Skin-lightening products may have unlisted compounds like steroids, which can lead to rashes, pimples, and permanent discoloration. Other products may have mercury present in them, which is toxic.
The above-mentioned laser treatment can remove freckles for good, either after a single session or several sessions. However, if you often expose your skin to the sun without protecting it by using sunscreen with SPF of 30 or higher, new freckles can appear on your skin.
Does this question sound familiar? Well, like we already said, freckles can be removed by using certain methods, surgical procedures, or homemade remedies. Removing freckles takes time, usually up to 2 weeks. However, you can try using certain ingredients or foods that you already have in your kitchen to get rid of them. Those are the following: Lemon, apple cider vinegar, almond oil, and turmeric. These are all believed to fade freckles.
Maintaining the health of your skin is the best solution to prevent freckles and dark spots. You can take care of your skin in the following ways:
Wearing sunscreen when exposing to the sun, or even on cool days, prevents new freckles from appearing on your skin. Good sunscreens are those that have avobenzone, titanium dioxide, or zinc oxide and SPF of higher than 30. You should apply sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes prior exposing to the sun and reapply it right after sweating or swimming.
Using products that contain hyaluronic acid or glycerin moisturizes your skin. Using products containing retinol may help increase cell turnover. Additionally, high-quality moisturizers can restore the fat barrier of the skin, thereby protecting it from the sun’s rays.
Stay away from skin-care products that burn, cause skin rashes or sting. You don’t want to make hyperpigmentation worse by irritating it.
We know how hard sometimes it is to keep yourself from picking at blackheads or acne and scratching pimples or bites, but it’s a fact that doing so will only make them worse. Moreover, it can further increase the inflammation which causes discoloration of the skin.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), applying liquid bleach to the skin should be avoided at all costs (6). Liquid bleach is harmful and it can cause burns.