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Brown Blotches Be Gone

How Does Skin Get Its Color?

Skin tone depends on the amount of melanin (pigment) that is produced by melanocytes (skin cells). Uneven pigmentation occurs when melanin production differs in certain areas. Tyrosinase is the enzyme responsible for activating melanin production.

What Determines Skin Tone?

Genetics, including racial background, plays an important role. The melanocytes in Asians are more active and can produce up to 10 times more melanin than fair-skinned Caucasians. Lifestyle factors including sun-tanning and pregnancy also play a part.

What Are The Types And Causes Of Skin Darkening?

Three common types are solar lentigines (fiat brown spots also known as liver spots or age spots) caused by ageing and photo-ageing (sun-induced ageing); melasma (butterfly patches found usually on the cheekbones and forehead) due to ageing, sun exposure, genetics, hormonal changes during pregnancy as well as use of oral contraceptives; and freckles, caused by sun exposure and genetics. They are usually on the cheeks and shoulders. Less common causes include underlying skin problems like eczema that might leave scars behind, and drug allergies.

Can Dark Skin Fade By Itself?

Freckles may fade within weeks or months if you avoid the sun, but melasma and solar lentigines tend to persist. Injury marks, pregnancy-related melasma and scars may also fade over time.

What Are The Key Chemicals In Whitening Products?

Exfoliating agents like alpha hydroxyacids (AHA) and beta hydroxyacids (BHA, otherwise known as salicyclic acid) help increase the turnover of skin cells by removing dead cells and their pigment deposits. Examples of AHAs are glycolic acid (from sugarcane) and citric add. Others like hydroquinone, kojic acid, arbutin and liquorice reduce melanin production by inhibiting the tyrosinase enzyme. Some products also contain nanopartides of zinc or titanium oxide to reflect light.

How Do These Chemicals Get Absorbed Into The Skin?

The chemical molecules can start diffusing into the skin within minutes, but the dead skin cell layer on the surface, and even facial oil, may act as a barrier. The absorption amount is also determined by the ding's concentration and its water solubility. Gel or water-based products might evaporate before they diffuse into the skin. To help increase the diffusion, prime the skin first by cleansing and toning to remove facial oil, or else exfoliate.

Why Are We Often Told To Apply The Product In The Morning And/Or At Night?

To create an even distribution of whitening chemicals into the skin in a day. Some chemical effects may also be sun-sensitive, so it would be better to apply at night.

Is There A Limit To Skin Whitening?

A person's baseline pigmentation is determined mainly by genetics and sun exposure. The melanocytes will continue producing pigment fox skin colour, so any whitening effect will last only as long as you use the whitening products. The degree of whitening depends on the strength of the chemical agents and the individual's skin sensitivity to them. Topical agents are usually effective if pigmentation occurs hr the epidermis (upper layer of the skin), but not so if pigmentation occurs deeper within the skin.

At What Age Do Dark Spots Appear?

Age spots can occur from the late 20s onwards due to prolonged sun exposure and ageing.

Whitening Glossary

For a better understanding of whitening, you need to know these terms:

Desquamation: The shedding of the outer layers of the skin.

Hyperpigmentation: Dark spots on the skin or unusual darkening of the skin.

Keratinocyte: An epidermal cell that produces keratin,  tough, insoluble protein substance that is the main structural constituent of hair and nails. Melanin A pigment that is naturally present in skin and that protects the epidermis from UV rays.

Melonocyte: A pigment-producing cell in the skin that determines its color.

Tyrosinase: The enzyme responsible for skin pigmentation.

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