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Why the Top 12 Dark Spot Removal Remedies Don't Work

Written by KD Gates


What Really Does Work?

We've heard it, seen it, and believed it all – but when it comes to dark spots on our skin, hype doesn’t mean success. For example, using lemon juice to get rid of dark spots is recommended all over the Internet. Unfortunately, while lemon juice may have lightening properties, the acidic compounds found in lemons irritate underlying skin cells, therefore causing further damage and harm beneath and atop the skin.

Below are 12 dark spot removal remedies that you thought would work -- but don’t.

1: Lemon Juice
Lemons, while great for lemonade, in salads, and on seafood, aren’t great for skin. Lemons contain 5 to 8 percent citric acid thus making their use too acidic for skin. When applied topically, the juice of lemons are highly irritating, thus bringing more harm to skin than good. With exposure to sunlight, the acidic fragrant compounds left behind from the juice of lemons can cause phytophotodermatitis (darkening of the skin, blistering, and or redness). Further, as lemon juice is the most common fruit extract used in cosmetic preparations, its low pH, along with its high citric acid content, gives lemon juice a high potential for causing allergic reactions and should be avoided.

2: Apple Cider Vinegar
A primary irritant to skin, apple cider vinegar contains acetic acid, a natural acid found in fruits such as apples, grapes, and strawberries and is proven to cause dryness. However, apple cider vinegar does have disinfecting properties.

3: Castor Oil
Besides the fact that castor oil has no properties proven to lighten dark spots, it is a natural vegetable oil derived from the castor bean. Castor oil is used primarily as an emollient in cosmetics and works to protect the skin against water loss.

4: Sandalwood Oil
Sandalwood oil is a fragrant essential oil used to bring an enticing smell to cosmetics. It's proven to cause dermatitis, irritation, allergic reactions, and skin rashes. Those with extra sensitivity should steer clear of all essential oils (excluding tea tree oil). Sandalwood oil does not have the natural ability to lighten skin.

5: Aloe Vera
Used by women for centuries in ancient Egypt as a skin softener, aloe vera does have documented benefits for skin. Such benefits include wound healing, antioxidant protection, and anti-inflammatory benefits. However, aloe vera is 99.5% water and does not contain any components proven to lighten skin.

6: Horseradish
Trust me, horseradish is better on hot dogs than skin. Horseradish is said to lighten skin due to its vitamin C content. However, the large amounts of mustard oil in the plant not only gives horseradish its pungent odor but can be extremely irritating to the skin. Horseradish when used in cosmetics acts as an antiseptic rather than a skin lightener.

7: Papaya
We've seen papaya in facial scrubs, organic makeup, and other exfoliating products, but papaya, derived from the enzyme papain, can be extremely irritating on skin and may cause allergic reactions. Likewise, papaya does not contain the structure / components to lighten dark spots.

8: Yogurt
Yogurt, while good for smoothies, isn't so good for skin. Ranking average on the topical health scale, yogurt shows no proven research indicating positive effectiveness for skin. Although some tout yogurt as an emollient, this ingredient can cause additional harm to those experiencing atopic dermatitis.

9: Onion Juice
Think about what happens when you slice or cut an onion. Your eyes begin to water and burn. This is due to the onion's natural irritating properties and when applied to skin, those same irritating properties apply. Onion juice harms the healthy skin cells beneath the skin. However, medicinally, onion extract is currently being used in the experimental treatment of keloids and hypertrophic scarring. Unfortunately, onion juice does not have the capacity to lighten dark spots.

10: Honey
Honey is one of the BEST ingredients for skin. Honey’s vitamin, peptide, and amino acid content makes it effective for wound healing and provides antioxidant and anti-inflammatory protection for skin. Sadly, the composition of honey does not enable it to lighten or brighten marks on the skin.

11: Vitamin E
Another BEST for skin, ranking excellent on the health scale, vitamin E is usually touted to have skin lightening benefits due to its ability to protect the skin from the damage of ultraviolet light. And while I'm not saying that it can't be extremely beneficial for dark spots when applied topically, the direct application of vitamin E alone does not lighten dark spots. However, combining vitamin E with other beneficial ingredients such as vitamin C will aid in the correction and prevention of dark spots.

12: Turmeric
Used in anti-acne and sunscreen applications, it's extract, curcumin, while a potent antioxidant when applied to skin, can cause irritation. Lastly, turmeric does not contain any compounds to lighten dark spots.

Beneficial Ingredients Proven to Lighten Dark Spots

When searching for products designed to lighten dark spots, look for the following well-researched, documented, and proven ingredients on the list:

  • Sunscreen SPF 25 or higher
  • Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)
  • Bearberry extract
  • Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs)
  • Hydroquinone
  • Licorice
  • Retinol (Vitamin A)
  • Vitamin B3 (Niacinamide)
  • Vitamin C (sodium ascorbyl phosphate, ascorbic acid, tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, L-ascorbic acid, ascorbyl palmitate, sodium ascorbyl phosphate, retinyl ascorbate, and magnesium ascorbyl phosphate)
  • Vitamin E in combination with Vitamin C

The new Celsaderm Skincare line was created with these ingredients to uncover skin’s innate beauty by repairing the skin cells starting at the cellular level. Healthy cells generate beautiful, healthy skin. Celsaderm’s Rapid Bright Ultra-Brightening Serum quickly brightens dark spots, erases discolorations, and evens skin tone.



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