What Causes Uneven Skin Tone?
Uneven skin tone refers to skin tone that has inconsistencies in color, usually in the form of hyperpigmentation and other discoloration, which can be caused by several different factors. Let’s take a look at each one to help you pinpoint which is most applicable to you and determine what changes you can make to get back your bright, healthy, even glow.
Have you noticed any dark patches in areas that are regularly exposed to sunlight? Unprotected exposure to the sun’s harmful UV rays can have negative effects on the skin. Sun damage can take the form of darkened sun spots, premature fine lines and wrinkles, and even dry skin.
Dead Skin Cells
Your body naturally sheds dead skin cells but sometimes they remain on the surface of the skin. This buildup is a common cause of dull skin and an uneven skin tone so keep those unwanted dead skin cells off your face by exfoliating consistently. Exfoliation also encourages regular cell turnover and reveals smoother, softer skin.
Hormonal fluctuations due to pregnancy or birth control pills can also cause an uneven skin tone. This is known as melasma, a hormone-related form of hyperpigmentation that results in dark patches on the skin that are much larger than age spots or freckles. These spots typically appear on the forehead, cheeks, nose, and above the upper lip, but can also appear on other areas of the body. Melasma may fade on its own, but it doesn’t go away for everyone. Fortunately, there are treatments available.
Let’s say you’ve been battling a breakout for several days and decide to just pop it. You then find that it’s left behind a discolored spot on your skin, which ends up sticking around much longer than the pimple itself. Ugh. Sound familiar? This type of discoloration is known as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, or PIH, and it’s typically caused by an injury or wound on the skin’s surface.
PIH is the body’s natural response to inflammation and often takes the form of those pesky red or dark spots that are left behind after a pimple heals. PIH is very common and affects people of all skin types. These spots can be even more frustrating than the pimples themselves. The more inflamed a breakout is, the worse the PIH will be, which is why it’s so important to resist picking or popping pimples. Doing so will only lead to increased inflammation and an increased chance of developing PIH. Like melasma, PIH generally fades away on its own over time, but there are treatment options available to help speed up the process.
How to Even Skin Tone
Now that we’ve covered the different causes of uneven skin tone, let’s get into the things you can do to help get rid of it. You can fake it until you make it with some good concealer or foundation but if you’re seriously looking for a healthy, even complexion, keep reading!
Use the Right Ingredients
Your skincare routine is only as strong as the ingredients you choose to use. Here are some key ingredients to look out for when trying to get rid of uneven skin tone:
Just as it’s important to get enough antioxidants in your diet to fight off free radicals, your skin benefits from applying antioxidants topically. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that fights premature fine lines and wrinkles by promoting the production of collagen and elastin. It also plays a key role in the skin’s natural regeneration process and helps protect against sun damage by neutralizing free radicals.
How does vitamin C help with uneven skin tone? This antioxidant is a brightening agent that helps inhibit melanin production and fade those pesky dark spots on the skin.
Add It to Your Routine: One of the best ways to add vitamin C to your daily routine is in the form of a serum. A vitamin C serum works hard to visibly lighten discoloration and brighten up your skin.
Interested in getting vitamin C in more ways than one? Eat more of it! Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, and grapefruits are rich in vitamin C.
When searching for how to even skin tone, you’ll notice that licorice root extract is a popular ingredient in skin-brightening products. Licorice root has anti-inflammatory properties and has a reputation for soothing the skin, protecting against sun damage, and combatting discoloration by preventing dark spots from forming as well as fading existing ones.
Add It to Your Routine: Licorice root extract can be found in our Zen Ultracalming Serum, which is designed to put stressed, blotchy skin into a state of peace and calm. Apply a few drops of this antioxidant-abundant serum to your skin twice daily to help even skin tone and texture and keep skin from feeling flushed.
Let's Get Zen
Ultracalming serum packed with plant power to soothe, calm and nourish the skin.Calm Skin
Being a natural astringent, witch hazel has proven to be an effective ingredient from clarifying skin and reducing the appearance of pore size. It has soothing, anti-inflammatory properties, making it perfect for calming redness, balancing skin, and treating discoloration.
Add It to Your Routine: Witch hazel is commonly found in toners to help soothe skin after being cleansed. You can find this ingredient in our Dewy Dew facial mist, a toner that also works as a makeup setting spray and mid-day refresher. Witch hazel can also be found in Restore, our gel-based treatment formulated to help reduce redness and hyperpigmentation, thereby helping to even skin tone and texture.
Do You Dew?
Prep and perfect your skin with this alcohol-free toner that will also leave you dewy and glowy.Glow On The Go
Exfoliate Your Skin
When searching for how to even skin tone, exfoliation is often recommended, although it’s important to learn how to exfoliate properly. Exfoliation gets rid of dead skin cells lingering on the surface, which then allows your skincare products to penetrate the skin more effectively.
First, you’ll need to choose between a physical exfoliant or a chemical exfoliant. Physical or manual exfoliants include scrubs, brushes, and loofas that physically remove dead skin cells. Because this exfoliant type involves rubbing motions, it’s not recommended for those with sensitive or dry skin. As for chemical exfoliants, the two most popular options are salicylic acid and glycolic acid.
Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) that helps the outermost layer of skin shed dead skin cells by loosening the bonds between the cells, plus it’s effective in fighting off whiteheads, blackheads, and other blemishes.
Add It to Your Routine: You can find salicylic acid in many different facial cleansers but our favorite way to add this ingredient is through our acne treatment gel, Treat. It contains 2% salicylic acid and oat kernel so it’s best to use it as a spot treatment. A little goes a long way so be sure to use it sparingly!
Glycolic acid is an alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) that’s known to help treat skin discoloration and dullness, fight the signs of aging, and brighten skin. It contains smaller molecules so it can penetrate the skin at a deeper level and promote skin cell turnover at a faster rate.
Add It to Your Routine: Glycolic acid often comes in the form of a chemical peel. You can have a professional perform the treatment, but there are a variety of peels, pads, and other products containing glycolic acid that are available to use in the comfort of your own home. Depending on the concentration, add glycolic acid to your routine slowly to give your skin time to adjust.
Protect Yourself from the Sun
Always Apply SPF
Many people forget that sunscreen is a crucial part of any skincare routine. Sunscreen protects your skin from the sun’s UV rays, thereby helping prevent skin cancer and other forms of skin damage. Keep in mind that the sun emits harmful UV rays every day of the year, so slather on the sunscreen even during those cold, winter months.
However, you’ll want to pay attention to sunscreen ingredients, which will help you determine the safest option. Chemical sunscreens are very common but these are often formulated with ingredients that have been tied to hormone disruption and skin irritation. Stay away from chemical sunscreens made with oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate, and octinoxate.
On the other hand, mineral sunscreens use zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide as active ingredients that sit on top of your skin and physically block UV rays from penetrating the skin. These are generally safer than their chemical counterparts. Use a mineral sunscreen that offers broad-spectrum protection, has an SPF of 30 or higher, and is water-resistant. Apply it to any areas of your body that will be exposed to the sun, and remember to reapply!
Wear Protective Clothing
Let’s not forget that sunscreen isn’t the only way to protect your skin from the sun. Be more mindful of what you wear whenever you’re outdoors; wear sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat to shield your eyes and face and try to stay in the shade whenever possible.
Abby Vinas has long been an active member of the holistic health community, advocating in favor of its benefits to both our physical and emotional well-being. Her commitment to leading a healthy lifestyle has made her an authority on self-care practices. Abby is passionate about fitness, nutrition, and proper skincare, and is also an avid lover of avocado toast and dog-petting.