Lighten It Up

Now that the summer is behind us, we are faced with the task of fixing the damage that has occurred from all of our sun exposure, namely dark patches: sun spots and uneven pigmentation. Our goal is to acquire an even skin tone and we can achieve this with many options for treatment.

Women who are on birth control pills, pregnant women, and those who take certain medications that increase their sensitivity to ultraviolet rays are most susceptible to discoloration. In addition, acne and certain skin rashes may result in irregular dark patches on the skin in people with darker skin types.

Treatment regimens vary, but research has shown that the most effective course of therapy in lightening the skin is hydroquinone. Hydroquinone works by interfering with the enzyme in the skin that produces pigmentation, resulting in an evening of the skin tone. In over the counter formulations, hydroquinone is usually found in 2% concentrations, and 4% in prescriptions.

Other ingredients that have been used to effectively lighten the skin include Vitamin A (tretinoin or retinol), AHA’s, azelaic acid, kojic acid, and arbutin, which is plant-derived. Some medical procedures including chemical peels and laser may also be helpful.

La Roche-Posay has just released a new product that contains 2% Hydroquinone coupled with a sunscreen: Mela-D Skin Lightening Daily Lotion. SkinCareLab is one of the first to carry this new product. For those who prefer plant derived ingredients, Phyto+ by SkinCeuticals, enriched with arbutin and kojic acid, may be an alternative. Check out for more information about these and other lightening agents.

Regardless of what course of treatment is pursued, it is imperative to incorporate strict sunscreen use while treating discoloration of the skin, as repeated sun-exposure on previously treated areas raises the risk for reoccurrence.



La Roche-Posay Mela-D: A lightening lotion formulated with 2% Hydroquinone to help lighten darkened pigmentation     $45