Whether they're dark spots, acne scars or pregnancy melasma, hyperpigmentation of the face is a skin care issue many women dread. If you're like me, panic and confusion arise every time a new dark spot or blemish pops up: Is my mirror dirty? Is that dirt or makeup residue? Was this there yesterday? Ahhh! While you can opt for expensive peels and visits to the dermatologist, there are gentle and effective ways to fade dark spots and brighten overall complexion. Especially during pregnancy -- when up to 70% of women report experiencing "the mask of pregnancy" -- pregnancy skincare is particularly important.
Natural skin brighteners to fade dark spots
The market is flooded with products that claim to whiten and brighten. Here are safe, toxin-free skin lighteners you want to scope out.
Skin brightening vitamins
Vitamin C is a natural antioxidant that works to prevent further dark spots while reducing discoloration you may already have. Vitamin A increases the rate of cell turnover to help shed damaged, scarred skin. Vitamin B3, also known as niacinamide, has anti-inflammatory properties. It helps repair sun damage and increases the rate of cellular reproduction. We recommend: The Spoiled Mama's Rehab Serum for Pregnancy Blemishes
With a small molecular structure, this pregnancy acne serum uses vitamin A to penetrate problem areas and reveal new, healthy skin at a speedy rate. Rehab, a best-selling part of our Glow maternity skin care collection, is an effective treatment for chloasma ("the mask of pregnancy"), sun spots, blemish scars and wrinkles.
Skin brightening herbs
Licorice is a natural anti-inflammatory that has shown significant skin brightening results. The plant inhibits pigmentation, according to the National Center for Biotechnology, and helps protect against harmful UV rays and reduce skin sensitivity. Kojic acid is another natural skin brightener that can be found in mushrooms or as a by-product of rice fermentation. It especially targets melanin caused by UVB radiation. We recommend: The Spoiled Mama's Lucid Serum for Melasma (Mask of Pregnancy)
This powerful serum uses licorice and fruit acids and kojic acid to help you bid farewell to dark spots. Meanwhile hyaluronic acid hydrates and helps skin look youthful. With regular use, this lightening serum for the mask of pregnancy helps suppress uneven pigmentation and lighten your skin to new levels of luminosity.
Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)Sometimes known as fruit acids, alpha hydroxy acids penetrate skin to encourage the shedding of old, damaged skin. This improves skin texture and reveals new, healthy skin. Even those with sensitive skin can benefit from weekly or biweekly use of AHAs. Two common types of AHAs can be found on the market: Glycolic acid is derived from sugar cane and acts as an exfoliant and natural skin brightener. Lactic acid is made from sour or fermented milk, and is particularly good for people with sensitive skin. Both glycolic acid and lactic acid have a small molecular size that allows penetration of the top layers of skin.
Buyer beware: toxic skin whiteners
Hydroquinone is a popular ingredient found in skin lightening products is a big no-no, especially if you're pregnant. According to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, hydroquinone may increase skin cancer risks due to UV exposure. In some case, hydroquinone may actually cause darkening of the skin -- eek! It has been banned in Europe since 2001 and the FDA has proposed banning it in the US. Mercury is a dangerous metal that can destroy your kidneys and nervous system. Since 1976 in Europe and 1990 in the U.S., mercury has been banned in skin whitening formulas. Despite its dangers, it's a cheap and effective whitening ingredient that can be found in many bootleg products.