When it comes to dark spots appearing on my skin, the first question is always: I'm 20-something years old, how does this happen? The next question, of course, is: How to get rid of dark spots on the skin? And some days, concealer is not enough to cover stubborn spot(s). This might not be true for everyone, but I'm not much of a fan of those dark spots.
Unfortunately, no matter how many minutes we spend in front of the mirror every night or morning perfecting our beauty routine to protect our skin against acne and scars, dark spots are a result of either age or sun damage and cannot be reversed by a magic moisturizer or clay mask. I'm sorry to have to deliver the bad news.
One theory that has struck a chord with many beauty-conscious, however, is that limes can cure dark spots. The juices from limes are rich in Vitamin C, but also rich in acidity. While Vitamin C is great for the skin, filled with antioxidants and collagen, acidity dries out flesh. So could it really be a safe way to soothe your woes?
To find the real answer to this theory, I reached out to Dr. Jessica Weiser, a board certified dermatologist at the New York Dermatology Group. Dr. Weiser solved the lime theory and gave additional tips on how to get rid of those persistent dark spots.
If a client approaches her about a dark sport, Dr. Weiser says the problem is already too late. "While many people are looking to lighten skin lesions, this cannot be accomplished unless skin is fully protected from the sun. UV radiation causes further darkening of pigmented lesions so these dark spots are likely to recur or worsen upon sun exposure if not adequately protected," says Dr. Weiser.
Ultimately, in order to protect your skin from getting a dark spot, Dr. Weiser says the key is sunscreen and avoiding the sun's damage entirely. The most effective method to prevent dark spots are sunscreens that have "excellent UVA protection," according to Dr. Weiser, applied every two hours. This is particularly important during the childhood to teenage years.
But in the case a dark spot has already sprouted, Dr. Weiser says she typically does not write a prescription for limes. "I do not specifically recommend lime juice as a natural lightening agent given the potential for irritation and the potential for a phototoxic reaction with exacerbation of pigmentation," she explained. Dr. Weiser confirmed limes are high in Vitamin C, but also have an "intense acidic nature," which can cause phytophotodermatitis, a reaction to sunlight that irritates skin once exposed to lime juice.
And no, diluting the lime juice in water will not solve the problem. In fact, Dr. Weiser says it could make the acidity worse by elevating the pH balance. Instead, if you insist on trying it, she recommends diluting the lime juice with anti-inflammatory solvents, such as honey or yogurt — and both on their own, prevent irritation.
But don't lose hope. Though limes aren't the answer to dark spots, I had to take advantage of my time with Dr. Weiser and ask what could get rid of discoloration. "There are many means of lightening dark spots on the skin. The most conservative options are topical treatments including retinoids, hydroquinone, and other natural skin lightening agents such as vitamin C, kojic acid, licorice root extract, arbutin, SymWhite, etc. Chemical peels are another good option for improving pigmentation," Dr. Weiser says.
If you do find dark spots, Dr. Weiser says the most important step is to visit your dermatologist to ensure it's not a sign of skin cancer. And for now, leave your limes where they belong: in margaritas, guacamole, and gin and tonics.
Images: Getty (2); Giphy (2)