Skin Care

#BrighterSkin: How to Remove Dark Spots

How to remove dark spots the right way

Before removing dark patches/spots, you have to make sure the underlying problem has been fixed. For example, if you’re having dark spots because of an acne outbreak, find out what caused the acne, stop it from re-occurring, and then remove the dark spots. This is really important because using the following without doing this could make the hyper-pigmentation even worse.

I talked about the HORRIBLE ways to remove pigmentation; this week I want to talk about the RIGHT ways to remove dark spots. An effective routine will combine as many of the following as possible. For example, the area is washed with kojic acid soap, toned with salicylic acid-containing toner and moisturized with alpha-arbutin in an AHA base cream.


Alpha-Arbutin or Bearberry extract is actually a glycoside of hydroquinone (hydroquinone attached to a sugar molecule). It has been proven to be very effective at skin lightening but without a lot of horrible effects associated with hydroquinone. Be careful though; German scientists discovered that alpha-arbutin can be broken down to hydroquinone in the intestine, fostering an environment for intestinal cancer.

So as long as you don’t eat it, you’re getting hydroquinone-like lightening without any drama and can be used for pretty much any hyper-pigmentation issue; I just got this cream that has relatively good reviews for a family member. I’ll be watching to see if it’s any good before recommending it. It seems good because it combines alpha-arbutin with AHAs and other lightening agents.

Kojic Acid

Kojic acid is a by-product of sake (Japanese wine). It is an effective skin lightener best used in soaps (in my opinion) because it turns brown and loses its effectiveness when exposed to air. It can also be used in lotions but they need to be stored in a cool, dry place. In most products it will not exceed 2% because it can be very sensitizing. Continued use over at least a month is required to see any change. I got this soap for me and my mum (and brother since he wouldn’t stop disturbing me)

For those in Nigeria, you can buy it here.

AHAs and BHA

Alpha Hydroxy Acids(AHAs) like glycolic or lactic acid dissolve the “glue” that holds dead skin cells together. Glycolic acid is the smallest of them all and most penetrating (and hence most irritating). I use a 12% Ammonium lactate cream to help keep my back as smooth as possible (sometimes I suffer from back acne). It also helps (although slowly) to remove previous dark spots.

Bright Ideas: Lemons and other citrus fruits are a source of AHA’s. Squeezed lemon juice three times a week on the darkened area will go a long way. Plus it also contains Vitamin C which is also great at removing dark spots.
You could also use yoghurt (which contains lactic acid) as a mask!


Beta Hydroxy Acid or Salicylic acid is derived from aspirin and helps shed skin at a faster rate. It is also an excellent anti-bacterial and helps fight acne.

It is also oil-soluble so it is able to get into pores and cut through the oil clogging them. I use a toner that contains salicylic acid (among other goodies) to wipe my face every night. A face or body scrub with it would also be really good and dealing with dark spots.

For those in Nigeria, the St Ives face Scrub has 2% Salicylic Acid which is a pretty good amount.

Using AHAs and BHA together will not only deal with acne, but remove the spots that have already formed.


Sometimes having a diet not rich in the vitamins you need might be causing your hyper-pigmentation. Vitamins C, E and B3 (Niacinamide)all help to lighten scars (and make you healthier). Vitamin C in particular is also an antioxidant and helps improve Gluthathione and Vitamin E levels in the body. Those are just the benefits when taken orally; they can be applied topically to interfere directly with melanogenesis.

In my opinion, it is better to take oral supplements than to use creams only because you get the added overall health benefits. But really the choice is up to you. Just be careful not to use Vitamin C and B3 topically together; they form a complex and “cancel” each other out. Use the B3 cream in the day and the Vitamin C cream at night.

B3 cream:  Olay Micro-Sculpting Regenerist Cream (Niacinamide is among top 4 ingredients!)

In my opinion, Vitamin C serums are expensive and not necessary but if you must; Vitamin C serum: Bellafab Skincare Vitamin C serum

Vitamin A: Also known as Retinoids. They are a class of compounds that “tell” the skin to make healthier cells. This increases cell turnover thereby removing pigment pooled over in the epidermis. There are a lot of retinol creams out there to buy. You do have to be careful with using them because they can make your skin dry and chapped without adequate moisturization.

I found this Aveeno Retinol tone corrector for 7 dollars on Amazon! Check it out! It will probably help most with darkness under-eye darkness.

The Rest

Azeleic Acid which targets over-active melanocytes leaving normal ones. Gluconic Acid, paper mulberry extract, licorice extract, beta-carotene(from carrot oil), Mitracarpus Scaber Extract, Curcumin(in turmeric), papaya extract. And countless other natural anti-oxidants. Look out for them in your products while shopping.

Yes, products with all of the above might be expensive, but I believe that your health is most important. A friend made me realize I didn’t include which creams may have dangerous ingredients. This was because a lot of the ones that do contain them are fakes of otherwise-okay products. But since it’s usually really hard to tell the difference, I hope the following will help.

There’s been an influx of fake Q7 lightening products in Nigeria (and maybe elsewhere). According to their pinned post on their Facebook page, they do not have a range of products called Q7 gold. The original products make use of the safe ingredients mentioned above. Their Nigerian distributors’ number is 070 6652 8850.

Avoid dermovate, lemonvate and movate creams! They contain the most potent steroid Clobetasol Propionate and can cause permanent damage if used for more than a week!

Finally, don’t forget to use a SUNSCREEN of at least SPF 30(SPF 45 is advised). All the ingredients mentioned here can be sun-sensitizing.

Today’s was a bit a long but I had a lott to address. I hope you enjoyed it and have a wonderful day (or night).

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