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Uneven Skin Tone: A Wholistic Guide to Treating This Skin Concern ----- Back

13.02.20 - Knowledge

Uneven Skin Tone: A Wholistic Guide to Treating This Skin Concern

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Words by Antoinette Barnardo

Pimples, dark spots, facial redness — these are all signs of an uneven skin tone.

Skin unevenness can be difficult to treat. This is because an uneven skin tone can be caused by numerous skin conditions such as acne or melasma. This makes identifying the actual cause of your uneven skin tone akin to finding a needle in the haystack.

To help you address this dermatological issue, we've put together a guide on skin unevenness. Read on to find out the underlying causes behind an uneven skin tone and the best treatments for it.

What Is an Uneven Skin Tone?

Uneven skin tone is a relatively broad term that covers all skin discolorations. It also refers to textural issues such as roughness and fine lines. Here are the common types of skin unevenness:

  • Acne: Clogged pores that lead to blackheads and whiteheads can manifest as angry, red pimples, resulting in an uneven skin tone and texture. 
  • Dark circles: Also known as periorbital hyperpigmentation, dark circles are often accompanied by under-eye bags.
  • Melasma: This skin condition mostly appears as brown or gray patches on the facial region (nose bridge, upper lips, cheeks, and forehead). It may also show up on the sun-exposed parts of your body such as the shoulders, arms, and legs.
  • Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH): This refers to the formation of brown spots in response to skin inflammation. PIH may also develop as a side effect of cosmetic procedures like laser treatments.
  • Post-inflammatory erythema (PIE): This consists of red spots that appear due to damaged blood vessels.
  • Rosacea: A skin condition characterized by facial redness and pimple-like bumps in the nose and cheek regions.
  • Sun spots: Due to accumulated sun exposure and sunburn, light brown or black spots may develop on the skin.

It's possible to experience more than one of these skin concerns at the same time which further compounds the difficulty of treating skin unevenness.

Causes of Uneven Skin Tone

The different types of uneven skin tone mentioned above can be due to a variety of intrinsic and extrinsic factors.

1. Hormonal Changes

Certain skin conditions that create an uneven skin tone may be triggered by hormonal changes. One prime example would be melasma which has been linked to increased levels of estrogen and progesterone, a 2010 study in the Annals of Dermatology points out.

This results in abnormal melanin production in the skin, surfacing as brown or gray patches. Melasma is commonly experienced during pregnancy or after taking oral contraceptives that alter your body's hormonal levels.

2. Cosmetic Procedures

Many cosmetic procedures such as intense pulsed light (IPL) and laser treatments have often been recommended by dermatologists to treat skin concerns like hyperpigmentation. While their efficacy cannot be doubted, these cosmetic procedures often bring about unwanted side effects.

A 2017 study by the International Journal of Women's Dermatology showed that most laser treatments used to treat melasma patients caused adverse side effects like erythema and PIH. These hyperpigmentations may take months to fade or even become permanent. Such potential risks are even higher for darker-skinned individuals.

3. Aging and Genetics

Skin concerns such as fine lines and age spots are part of your skin's natural aging process. Your genes also play a significant role when it comes to your natural skin tone.

Certain pigmentary skin disorders like vitiligo are hereditary. Vitiligo is an autoimmune skin condition that causes large, white, and uneven patches to appear all over your body. Upon the onset of this disorder, the discoloration may continue to spread over time.

4. Lifestyle Choices

What you eat and do daily can also contribute to an uneven skin tone. A high-glycemic diet has been known to increase insulin levels that promote skin inflammation and acne. Additionally, alcohol and spicy food are linked to flare-ups of rosacea, resulting in facial redness.

A lack of sleep causes dark circles under your eyes while chronic sun exposure can increase the risk of sun damage and associated skin concerns like age spots and fine lines in the future.

5. Product Use 

Besides your day-to-day actions, topical products used on your skin may also affect your skin tone. Some topicals may contain ingredients that your skin is allergic to, resulting in allergic contact dermatitis. You may then experience an itchy, red rash that leads to an uneven skin tone.

How to Treat Uneven Skin Tone

Now that we've understood the various possible causes behind an uneven skin tone, we will delve into how you can treat it.

1. Visit a Licensed Dermatologist

Before you embark on the journey to eradicate your skin's unevenness, it's best to identify the exact cause of it. Is your uneven skin tone due to leftover PIH from recent acne breakouts? Or is the discoloration linked to internal hormonal changes?

Whatever the cause may be, it's wise to seek professional advice instead of self-diagnosing your condition. Speak to a licensed dermatologist about your symptoms so you have a clearer understanding of the underlying causes. This way, you'll be better equipped to use the right products and take steps towards clearer skin.

2. Use a Gentle, Exfoliating Cleanser

Most of the time, an uneven skin tone is due to excess melanin deposited on the epidermis. As a result, dark spots, freckles, PIH, and other forms of hyperpigmentation appear on your skin.

To lighten such hyperpigmentation issues, leverage exfoliating ingredients in your skincare products. Start your skincare routine with a gentle exfoliating cleanser like YORA's Clarify Face Cleanser. It has chemical exfoliators such as glycolic acid and salicylic acid to remove dead skin cells and promote a smoother skin tone.

3. Make Use of Exfoliants

To further quicken your skin cell turnover rate, regular exfoliation is a priority. Use an exfoliant like our Revitalise Face Polish to fade away blemishes on your skin. It's formulated with glycolic acid to slough off dead skin cells and PENTAVITIN® for clearer-looking skin.

While this exfoliant is designed for your face, you can also apply it to parts of your body that would benefit from a good dose of exfoliation.

4. Dab on a Brightening Face Serum

Another way to brighten dark patches more quickly is to slather on a brightening face serum. Rich in active ingredients, serums are a potent yet safe way to target specific skin concerns like an uneven skin tone.

YORA's Revitalise Face Serum fits the bill perfectly with its mineral-rich Swiss glacial water to enhance your skin tone while intensely hydrating it.

5. Use an Anti-Aging Moisturizer

Even if you're only in your 20s or 30s, it's never too early to start on anti-aging skincare products. Most anti-aging products like a moisturizer contain active ingredients to combat age-related unevenness such as age spots and fine lines. 

For instance, the Revitalise Face Moisturiser contains tetrapeptides and a ginseng, fruit, and cereal complex to diminish the appearance of wrinkles while promoting an even skin tone. The lightweight gel texture makes it suitable for all skin types.

6. Level Up With YORA's Concentrates

Remember when we mentioned serums are loaded up on actives? YORA's concentrates are too. These single-use applications boost the effectiveness of other topical products in your skincare routine so that you achieve good skin health quicker.

Look for ingredients like niacinamide, retinol, and vitamin C to help brighten your complexion more effectively. A 2004 study by the Vitiligo and Pigmentation Institute of Southern California reveals that a combination of hydroquinone 4% and retinol 0.15% was safe and effective in treating melasma and PIH. 

As such, try YORA's Defence Face Concentrate which contains retinol to lighten hyperpigmentation and age spots.

7. Add an Eye Cream

To resolve dark circles and eye wrinkles, add an eye cream to your skincare routine.

YORA's Define Eye Contour capitalizes on the antioxidant property of seaweed extract to reduce the appearance of dark circles. The brand's hyaluronic acid blend of PRIMALHYAL 50 and PrimalHyal™ 300 also aids in minimizing fine lines around your eyes for a younger-looking eye contour.

8. Top Off With an Overnight Mask

Make the most of your beauty sleep by slathering on an overnight mask as the last step of your skincare routine. Go for one that contains brightening ingredients to even out discolorations more quickly.

The YORA Revitalise Face Mask is an ideal pick as it's infused with Axolight® to lighten unevenness by inhibiting your skin's melanin production.

9. Consider a Chemical Peel

For more stubborn cases, you may want to consider a chemical peel. Compared to IPL and laser treatments, chemical peels have a lower risk of side effects, particularly in darker skin tones. This is supported by a 2018 study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, in which only 3.8% of darker-skinned individuals experienced side effects like PIH and erythema.

To minimize the risk of side effects, be conservative in your approach. For instance, choose a superficial chemical peel that uses mandelic acid. Superficial peels only exfoliate the epidermis which makes them safer for darker skin tones. Additionally, mandelic acid has a larger molecular size compared to glycolic acid, making it less likely to irritate your skin.

Besides that, you should adhere strictly to the aftercare guidelines following a chemical peel. Limit sun exposure for at least a week after the treatment and use a gentle cleanser.

Last but not least, before going for a chemical peel, always consult your dermatologist first. He or she will be the best judge of whether your skin type and skin concern are suitable for this mode of treatment.

10. Don't Forget Your Sunscreen

You can layer on as many skincare products as you want but your efforts will be wasted if you skip out on sunscreen. Boost the overall effectiveness of your skincare routine by applying a broad-spectrum, SPF 30 sunscreen every day. This will prevent new sun spots from appearing and existing blemishes from darkening.

Follow up with sun-protective clothing to protect the rest of your body from an uneven skin tone too. Seek shade whenever possible and avoid the hottest times of the day (i.e., between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.).

Other Good Skincare Habits to Follow

  • Eat a healthy diet: Certain skin conditions that lead to an uneven skin tone is triggered by your diet. For more details on how to eat your way to good skin health, look into The Clear Skin Diet.
  • Get enough sleep: To ward off the dark circles and under-eye bags, aim for 7-9 hours of sleep every night.
  • Always patch-test new products: To avoid triggering contact dermatitis, apply the skincare product to a small patch on the underside of your jaw. This makes it easy to hide the affected area if you do experience an allergic reaction.

It's Possible to Even Out an Uneven Skin Tone 

Despite the difficulties associated with an uneven skin tone, evening out this skin concern is possible.

Start by making a trip to your dermatologist for an accurate diagnosis. Then tailor your beauty routine to include skincare products that target the type of skin unevenness you're facing. If needed, supplement your topical treatment plan with additional cosmetic procedures like a chemical peel.

Follow up by making small but effective changes to your diet and sleeping patterns. By altering your daily routine in a more wholistic manner, a clear and even skin tone is just around the corner.

Words by Antoinette Barnardo

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