Uneven skin tone is more than a beauty concern—it can also add 10 or more years to our perceived age. This revelation was the result of a research study that was performed in Austria, and it has shaken women (and men) to the wrinkle-phobic core. In this study, participants were shown photos of women that were altered to remove wrinkles and furrows, so the only variable was skin pigmentation.
The overwhelmingly consistent result: Skin tone and luminosity play pivotal roles in how old we are perceived to be—and how attractive others believe we are.
Here are the top 3 causes of skin discoloration and what you can do to fix it:
- Sun exposure: Sun damage in the form of discoloration can take decades to appear, which can be especially frustrating when you’ve practiced safe sun for most of your adult life. Why the delay? Sun damage (even from a quick walk to and from the car) continues to accumulate, and it takes that long for the damage to collagen, elastin and pigment-producing cells to become visible on the skin’s surface.
- Hormones: Hormones like to “egg on” your pigment-producing cells, especially at times when they are abundant, like during pregnancy or when you’re taking birth control pills. Discoloration caused by hormones tends to be more patchy than spotty, and it’s most common on the cheeks, above the upper lip and on the forehead. This is also known as melasma (or chloasma during pregnancy).
- Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH): More common in those with darker skin, PIH causes long-lasting discoloration after an injury or irritation. Blemishes, cuts, laser treatments and even waxing can cause PIH.
To eliminate unwanted pigment and restore more even tone, make these essential moves part of your everyday beauty routine:
- Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen every day, rain or shine. This helps prevent new pigment from forming.
- Commit to a product with vitamin C, since this antioxidant is proven to improve discoloration and prevent damage caused by free radicals.
- Exfoliate regularly (the frequency depends on how tolerant your skin is). There are plenty of options from cleansing brushes to scrubs and masks. Adore Cosmetics’ brand ambassador, supermodel Erin Heatherton, told InStyle that one of her favorite products for her beauty regimen is this Calming Body Peeling Scrub. Both the Spirit – Calming Peeling Scrub & Body Butter from Adore Cosmetics are featured in Celebuzz!’s 28 Swoon-Worthy Holiday Gifts for the Makeup Lover and Beauty Junkie, ranking #11.
- Use products with organic plant stem cells, shown to help reverse sun damage by helping human skin stem cells renew themselves and slow down the aging process with their anti-aging powers.