Dermatologists are bombarded daily with this centuries-old question: how to even skin tone? Unfortunately, this question puts them in great difficulty since there is no surefire way of alleviating uneven skin coloring. The most effective method mainly depends on what is causing the uneven complexion in the first place. These causes can include excessive and/or unprotected sun exposure, pollution, an excessive production of hormone, or skin trauma (scarring).
While in some cases the uneven coloring of the skin might go away with just treating its root cause, others will need additional local treatment to even out the skin tone. Another obstacle when treating patients with uneven complexion is the fact that no treatment is permanent unless the patient readapts his or her habits.
How to Even Skin Tone: Some Basics
There are plenty of practices that could be the answer to the old “How to even skin tone?” question. Some are more effective than others, but none will provide long-term results without a bit of discipline and consideration from the patients themselves. That being said, before jumping to how to get an even skin tone, check out these ground rules:
Some Ground Rules on How to Even Skin Tone
No matter your complexion or treatment of choice for an uneven skin tone, there are some ground rules that will improve the effectiveness and reduce the risk of needing such a treatment in the future:
Drink Lots of Water
Water is by far the most important factor for an overall healthy skin. It helps our body cleanse away the toxins and reduces the risks of skin imperfections like wrinkles or hyperpigmentation. Although other liquids go as well, do your best to avoid sugary drinks since sugar is the number one enemy of the skin. Patients should also avoid or at least reduce fizzy or alcoholic drinks, if not completely remove them. Alcohol removes moisture from our bodies and carbonated sugary drinks cause pimples and oily skin.
If the plain taste of water doesn’t appeal to you, add cucumber, lemon, or lime slices and a bit of honey for sweetness. They also have vitamins that are essential to a healthy skin.
Have a Healthy Diet
A vitamin-rich diet is compulsory for an even complexion and overall healthy appearance. Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables – blueberries especially – and fresh salmon meat, if your diet allows you to. They are full of antioxidants, which makes them effective against skin imperfections.
It is particularly important to avoid junk foods since they can increase the risk of dark spots indirectly. They are full of toxins and fat, part of which will be excreted through our sweat glands. This can clog the pores, leading to the appearance of pimples and blackheads. If not treated or treated improperly, they will cause small scarring that resembles dark spots on the skin.
Since sun spots are the most common cause of uneven skin tone, using sunscreen is a must in preventing new ones from appearing and the old ones from getting even darker. In addition, it also keeps the skin hydrated under the burning sun, which slows down the appearance of wrinkles.
It’s important to know that harmful sun rays are present in the atmosphere even on cloudy or rainy days. During winter, they are reflected by the snow and penetrate our skin even more, from different angles. Use a broad spectrum sunscreen with a SPF of at least 30 during day time and avoid tanning salons at all costs.
How to Even Skin Tone: the Most Effective Practices
The following methods are the most effective in how to even out skin tone, no matter the area of the body. However, these are only some guidelines which should help you put things in perspective. Always talk to your dermatologist about your medical history, allergies, and conditions since they are decisive factors in the best treatment for you.
1. Laser Treatments
Laser treatments lead to the fastest results, but they also come with a series of adverse effects and possible complications. Fraxel treatments, Q-switched Nd:YAG or alexandrite lasers, or pulsed dye lasers, are all efficient in relieving excessive pigmentation of certain skin areas.
Some are easier on the skin, while others will require extensive downtime and aftercare. No matter your laser treatment of choice, you need to understand that no procedure is risk-free. Scarring, nerve damage, or hypopigmentation are just a few of the unintentional outcomes of these procedures.
2. Hydroquinone Treatments
Hydroquinone creams and ointments are the most effective non-laser treatments for hyperpigmentation and uneven skin tone, according to many dermatologists. Over the counter products have a concentration of up to 2% active ingredient, while prescription ones usually have about 4%. However, recent studies concluded this ingredient might be a carcinogen, which led to banning it in multiple areas of the globe.
4. Kojic Acid Treatments
The popularity of kojic acid products began shortly after hydroquinone’s ban in several countries. More and more people became conscious about the products they use and turned toward this natural product. However, a high concentration can still lead to toxicity so scientists advise to only use 2% creams. In addition, it should not be used on irritated or cut skin since it can seep into the blood flow.
When using kojic acid creams, you should always stay out of the sun since it will cause the skin to burn faster. This treatment should be a short-term one because patients who used it for prolonged times reported an increased skin sensitivity, inflammation, or itchiness.
Other ingredients that could spark interest when shopping for products to even your skin tone are licorice root extract, vitamin C, niacinamide, turmeric, lactic acid, or retinoids. However, just as with lasers, these external treatments can present a series of side effects. The most common are skin dryness, flakiness, or even rashes. Some patients might even develop allergies to some ingredients they were not allergic to before the treatment. Therefore, respecting the doctor’s prescription and instructions is mandatory.
How to Even Skin Tone Naturally, at Home
Although the most effective methods on how to even skin tone are prescription or over the counter products, a series of natural ingredients could also be efficient. They might take longer to work and some require a bit of preparation, but they are great ways to treat mildly uneven skin tone.
Here’s how to even out skin tone naturally:
1. Citrus & Kiwi Juice
All citruses have acidic juices, which balance the skin’s pH and lighten up the skin tone. The most used one is lemon juice, which has a high concentration of citric acid. This substance fights against darker patches of the skin without discoloring the surrounding areas, which makes it a good natural skin tone evener. Simply apply the raw fresh lemon or citrus juice onto the affected area and let it sit for about 15 minutes, then gently wash it off.
How to use it:
Be careful when applying it on cuts or irritated skin areas, since it will cause burning and stinging. Also, avoid sunlight while having the juice on your skin since it will react and lead to redness, irritation, and burning.
Kiwi juice also helps in fighting sun spots and sun damaged skin. It can be used as a gentle exfoliator thanks to its seeds, and also acts as an antioxidant. However, be careful not to crush the seeds since their skin might cause small lesions and lead to rashes.
Milk is a natural moisturizer & skin softener that also acts as a gentle bleaching agent. If used regularly either by itself or in combination with other ingredients (especially honey & oatmeal), it will reduce skin scarring, blemishes, and undesirable tan lines.
How to use it:
For best results, use raw, unprocessed milk. Apply it with a cotton ball or disc and give it 20 minutes to act, then gently rinse with lukewarm water.
Milk powder can also be effective. To enhance the effectiveness of this treatment, you can mix milk powder with regular raw milk and apply the paste onto the desired area. Do this 4-5 times per week for 2 months or more to see significant results. This paste can be the best answer for natural home remedies on how to even skin tone.
Although honey doesn’t have bleaching properties, it does act as a moisturizer and antibacterial agent. Therefore, honey will reduce the risk of acne scars and blemishes. It also provides the perfect amount of moisture to the skin, no matter the type of skin you have. Thus, it helps reduce the risk of skin dryness, indirectly reducing the risk of uneven pigmentation. It can be used by itself or together with other ingredients listed in this section.
How to use it:
Honey can be added to numerous mask, scrub, and other treatments recipes. It provides texture and enhances the activity of many other substances thanks to its antibacterial properties. If you plan on using it together with milk and oatmeal, there is no right or wrong ratio – many choose equal parts to balance out the effects somehow. Note, however, that heat (including your own body’s heat) will make it more fluid, especially if used as a standalone treatment.
4. Oatmeal Paste
Oatmeal is a natural exfoliating agent that removes dirt and unclogs pores.
How to use it:
For best results, it can be mixed with any of the ingredients mentioned above to create a scrub/mask combo that also lightens up the skin tone. However, do not leave it on for too long since you will need some serious rubbing to remove it once it dries out. This can irritate the skin or can even injure its superficial layers.
Other natural treatments for uneven skin tone include green tea, Aloe Vera, papaya juice, and cucumber. They can be used as stand-alone treatments or in combination with other natural cures mentioned above.
Unfortunately, there is no easy and universal for how to even skin tone. It all boils down to what caused the unevenness and how big the tone differences are. But maybe the most important thing is how much the patient is willing to change his or her lifestyle.