Remember when we were young and a little bit of sun gave our skin that beautiful glowy 'sun-kissed' look? As if that were a good thing?
Little did we know that for some of us, underneath that lovely, even, healthy glow were the future seeds of uneven, pigmented skin that would grow worse and worse as we grew older.
Uneven pigmentation and dark spots are a very visible sign of aging, and probably one of the easiest signs to treat.
Dark spots, age spots, liver spots, melasma, pigmentation, hyper-pigmentation - there are various names for pigmentation and the root causes can differ.
Dark spots are the result of uneven and over-production of melanin. Melanin is a broad term for a group of natural pigments in the skin that give it colour. When we are young melanin (other than freckling and birth marks) is evenly spread across the skin, but as we age melanin tends to clump.
Melanin might also condense where there has been trauma, such as from acne, or micro-inflammation from stress, deep in the skin layers. These traumas and inflammation surface as uneven pigmentation.
Uneven or increased melanin production, resulting in melasma, might also be caused by hormonal changes including going on the pill.
All skin types are susceptible to pigmentation. Fair skinned women are especially prone to age spots while women with deeper skin tones are more susceptible to pigmentation associated with acne scarring. All skin tones are susceptible to hormonal pigmentation. Evenly pigmented skin (sometimes called 'bright' skin) is universally culturally prized, even though there are no health risks associated with pigmentation.
Unwanted freckles and birthmarks can be permanently removed by lasers. However, melasma which is hormonally driven, and age spots, which are caused through aging and sun exposure, even if they are treated with lasers or peels, need close, ongoing management.
The most significant, and preventable, cause of age spots is the sun. Since melanin formation is a direct response to sun exposure, protecting skin from the sun will prevent age spots forming. Always using a 50+ SPF religiously is the most important preventative treatment for age spots and hyper-pigmentation.
For those age spots that have already formed, over a period of months they will eventually rise to the surface and shed. If the new, rising layers of skin cells have less clumped melanin, skin tone will improve.
When we say 'fade' dark spots, what do we mean?.
There are ways to hasten the shedding of the age spots. One is to laser them off. Another is to use acid peels. There is also the option to reduce melanin production and to break up the melanin deposits themselves.
Founder's Formula offers two products that target dark spots: our Vitamin C Serum - Wild Harvested Kakadu Plum Vitamin C Serum, and our Vitamin B3 Serum - FORTIFIED Australian Botanicals Pro-Aging Concentrate Treatment Serum . Both these serums work in complementary ways and will prevent dark spots and pigmentation from forming.
They will also help manage dark spots and melasma that are already present, either alone, or in conjunction with laser treatment and/or acid peels for particularly stubborn dark spots.
Wild Harvested Kakadu Plum Vitamin C Serum inhibits dark spots and hyper-pigmentation. With continued use it prevents new dark spots from forming and fades brown spots without altering normal skin pigmentation. Vitamin C works by inhibiting the enzyme tyrosinase, which helps to prevent melanin production.
Not all Vitamin C serums are equal. Studies have shown that a combining Ferulic Acid with Vitamin C can stabilise Vitamin C and increase Vitamin C efficacy and absorption. Founder's Formula Wild Harvested Kakadu Plum Vitamin C Serum includes Australian Finger Lime Caviar which is exceptionally high in natural ferulic acid to improve efficacy of our Kakadu Plum extract. Kakadu Plum has the highest percentage of Vitamin C of any known plant on earth.
FORTIFIED Australian Botanicals Pro-Aging Concentrate Treatment Serum is fortified with Niacinamide B3 to therapeutic levels. Niacinamide is an effective intervention for managing dark spots and melasma. It works by inhibiting melanosome transfer from the cells that produce melanin to the outer layer of the skin where the pigments are visible.
Australian Botanicals Pro-Aging Treatment Concentrate Serum also contains Australian Bush Lime with nine phyto-active compounds proven to support de-pigmentation, Native Orange Pearl which is rich in naturally occurring Vitamins A and C, Aniseed Myrtle with procyanidins with antioxidant activity 20 and 50 times more potent than Vitamin C and Vitamin E, and a potent anti-hyper-pigmentation active, as well as Pandanus, (Wild Pineapple) which contains enzymes Papain and Bromelain that dissolve dead skin cells and so hasten the shedding process. Pandanus is also one of the few plants to contain naturally occurring Niacinamide (B3).
Use Founder's Formula Wild Harvested Kakadu Plum Vitamin C Serum underneath moisturiser and/or oils and SPF 50+ in the mornings, and Founder's Formula FORTIFIED Australian Botanicals Pro-Aging Concentrate Treatment Serum underneath moisturisers and/or oils at night, to manage and prevent hyper-pigmentation.
Some very advanced age spots could be keratoses or potentially a skin cancer so it is always wise to have a regular skin cancer scan. In Australia we have dedicated clinics that specialise in skin cancer check ups, but any medical practicioner can determine if a persistant age spot needs further investigation.
Author note: Dr Annie Holden is an anthropologist and the founder of Founder's Formula. Annie lives on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia.