My mind immediately starts racing when I see a new pimple creeping up on my otherwise clear skin. The pimple itself is not the biggest problem — having oily skin and poor skin routines most of life has given me loads of experience in how to treat my pimple. I'm not about to pop that thing all willy-nilly and I'm confident that with ice and my homemade spot treatment, that pimple will see its death before I see anyone I'm trying to impress. What has me ripping through my closet of essential oils and natural skin treats and turning my kitchen into a science lab is what happens after the pimple: I need to find out how to treat dark skin spots.
For us brown-skinned babes, those dark spots are often darker than our skin and many topical treatments are treating the redness acne leaves behind, rather than lightening the remnants of our blemish. While I've used spot treatments that claim to alleviate both redness and dark spots, I wasn't happy at the length of time (several months) it took OR the long list of ingredients that were surely drying out my skin. The best place I have found dark spot faders and removal remedies has been in nature and for only a fraction of the cost.
There are plenty of different reasons for dark spots to show up on our face that have nothing to do with acne or a poor skin routine. Hyperpigmentation is one of the most common and one of the hardest to get rid of. Often, melasma is caused by the UVA rays from the sun which is why suncreen OR natural protection from the sun is essential in our skincare. Unfortunately, while preventing sun damage is incredibly easy, reversing the effects can be a long, grueling process. Even if you're diligent about your daily SPF, hyperpigmentation or melasma can also occur from hormonal changes from pregnancy and birth control.
Good news for pregnant ladies is that your pregnancy AND melasma will most likely be over soon. According to the Dermal Institute, natural and conventional treatments for hormonal melasma should only be started when birth control is stopped or else you'll be fighting an uphill battle with your skin.
Lucky for those of us suffering from acne spots, age spots, or hyper pigmentation, the treatment doesn't need a prescription or a bank loan. These natural dark spot removers have been tested by yours truly, but I'm not the only one bragging about the results of these natural remedies!
For Hormonal Melasma: Sugar, Nutmeg, and Coconut Mask
Start with 1/4 cup of brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of nutmeg, 1 tablespoon of coconut milk, and add 2-3 drops of clove essential oil. Leave the mask on your face for at least five minutes and rinse off with luke warm water. Be sure to apply a moisturizer with UV protection.
Why It Works:
Brown sugar is high in glycolic acid, which is known to improve melasma and often found in pricy chemical peels for that very reason. Coconut milk is high in lactic acid, another great way to treat melasma. According to DermNet NZ, both lactic and glycolic acids are able to remove the topical layer of infected skin and promote tyrosinase activity. Tyrosine not only helps pigmentation and melanin, but according to the University of Maryland Medical center, it regulates hormones as well. Clove essential oil is well-known in the homeopathic community for balancing hormones and it won't cause further pigmentation issues when applied topically. This mask requires diligence and time, so repeat daily on makeup free skin for best results.
For Cystic Acne Spots: Turmeric and Lime Juice Spot Remover
This recipe is super easy to make: Just squeeze fresh lime juice over a tablespoon of turmeric and form a paste. Apply directly on your dark spot or the affected area twice daily. I noticed a visible difference in my horrible cystic acne spots (or holes) in as little as a week, and the outbreak was completely clear in a month. You definitely need to be advised that this treatment can be extremely drying (since that is what clears up the cysts); to avoid dryness apply directly on the affected area and not your entire face.
Why It Works:
Turmeric is a natural antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and skin brightener. It also helps balance and restore skin's pH level which aids in healing dark spots quickly. Lime juice is rich in vitamin C which is one of the most popular home remedies to remove dark spots. Limes are incredibly acidic though, so I recommend using the lime juice remedy only with a balancing agent like turmeric to avoid irritation.
For Age And Sun Spots: Rose Water, Lemon Juice, and Aloe Vera
Mix 1/4 cup of homemade rose water, a teaspoon of lemon juice, and a tablespoon of aloe vera together, then add an essential oil like frankincense to your mixture. Apply after your cleansing routine as a toner before you moisturize.
Why It Works:
Rose water is rich in vitamin C, balances pH levels, and because it's a natural anti-inflammatory it's not only going to work to lighten your dark spots, it's going to treat existing pimples as well. Lemon juice has been my favorite addition to toners, cleansers, and exfoliates because of the bleaching properties. I've learned using lemon juice on its own can result in additional pigmentation problems, so adding this vitamin-C packed fruit to rosewater is a great way to get the bleaching benefits without going too overboard on skin lightening. Aloe vera contains an incredibly high amount of vitamin E, literally one of the most popular and effective ways to remove scars, and naturally restores skin's pH level.
For Hyperpigmentation: Raw Onion, Hydrogen Peroxide, and Vitamin E
Use 1 part hydrogen peroxide and 2 parts vitamin E, then place sliced raw onion into the mixture. Allow it to soak up the ingredients for a few minutes and then place directly on the affected area.
Why It Works:
Hydrogen peroxide has bleaching properties and a high level of acidity. It can be very drying, which is why adding vitamin E is essential for both treatment of the affected area and to avoid further irritating your skin. Raw onions are super effective at scar treatment because of the high content of vitamins A and C. They are also known to rejuvenate dead skin cells and improve complexion while protecting us from UV rays — super important for melasma sufferers.
For Blemishes: Raw Honey, Cinnamon, and Nutmeg Spot Treatment
Take 1/4 cup of raw honey and a teaspoon each of cinnamon and nutmeg and mix well. Apply this as a mask for 15 minutes or a spot treatment for at least an hour. Spot treatments should be done daily until faded and the mask can be done as often as twice a week.
Why It Works:
This has been my fave natural spot remover since I first tried Crunch Betty's version years ago. It begins fading my dark spots while my pimple is still active. I already know I'm going to have a dark spot as soon as the pimple becomes raised and inflamed. The nutmeg and cinnamon are excellent anti-inflammatory agents with lightening and cleaning properties. Raw honey is amazing at restoring pH levels, cleaning, and improving skin tone.
Test these recipes on the inside of your arm to make sure your skin won't become irritated from new ingredients. While some conventional methods may appear to work faster, these natural remedies are perfectly safe and carry vitamins and nutrients that OTC products can't offer to actually heal dark spots, not just bleach them.
Image: jypsygen/Flickr; Giphy; Kristin Collins Jackson