(There are a few and none of these are freckles!)
Post Inflammatory Erethemia (PIE) Redness after acne –
This discolouration is not being caused by excess melanin, it is a post-inflammatory condition. The inflammation needs to be soothed, you do not need to apply anything at this time to change the pigment of your skin.
If your skin is naturally dark, or if you have paler skin and exposed the inflamed area to the sun, it is possible to develop PIH (see below). Any damage to the skin can result in more melanin being produced as this is part of the skin’s healing mechanism. So treating the inflammation quickly is very helpful.
Treatment: Hydrosols are very effective especially: Lavender, Rose, Honeysuckle, Rosemary and Bladderwrack seaweed. Alternatively, extracts: Cucumber,, Green tea and Aloe vera or elixirs using essential oils: Lavender, Rose, Honeysuckle, Rosemary Roman Chamomile. For treatment of acne whilst it is still active, see article.
Post inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH)
This can appear as light red right through to dark brown spots and follow an inflammation of the skin. The inflammation will trigger melanocytes to produce excessive melanosomes and this is the colour you see. The worse the inflammation, the more they will produce. People with dark skin will often see a more prominent mark and tend to find them more problematic. Some people find the sun helps skin infections to heal, including acne, but this can add more melanin to the area and make them darker.
Treatment: They will fade in time anyway, so you don’t have to do anything, but this may take many months. Hydroquinone and Glycolic Acid are known to help, but can be rough on sensitive skin. The hydrosols that will help are Lavender, Rose, Roman Chamomile, Cucumber, Bladderwrack and Neroli. A serum, moisturiser or elixir with AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids), Vitamin A (Retinol and it’s derivatives), Vitamin C and E will be gentler and can use the synergistic effect of the oils to aid faster healing. Do not put undiluted essential oils on your skin, but mixed with Jojoba or Sweet Almond at the correct dilution (Robert Tisserand is an excellent source for doses), Tea-tree, Lavender, Sandalwood, Lemon and Sweet Orange are all oils that have been used to help this. Only use them at night unless you are sure they are free from coumarins and therefore safe in the sun.
This usually looks like splotches in a series of little islands, around the sides of the face, on the forehead, and around the mouth. This is caused by the combination of sun exposure and a surge in hormones chloasma (darkened skin caused by hormonal changes). This is a reason to take particular care with sun protection during pregnancy.
It can also be a symptom of Addison’s disease. Even those diagnosed and taking cortisol replacement can be susceptible to this.
This is difficult to correct entirely. It is stubborn and takes up to 3 months to fade, and then probably only to about 75%. And, it will come back if the skin is exposed to sun again after treatment. So using a high sun protection factor over these areas is essential.
Treatment: It responds well to Retinol (Vitamin A), AHAs; Vit C at between 7 and 17%; Kojic Acid, Hyaluronic Acid (Seaweed hydrosol) and for those who are desperate, Hydroquinone 4% (although we do not use this in any of our products). Hydrosols for this include: Bladderwrack and Rose with Aloe Vera. A good moisturiser including AHAs, Vitamins A, C and E and Kojic acid. Alternatively elixirs with: Argan and Rosehip oils with Lemon, Sandalwood, Frankincense, Helichrysum, Bergamot and Carrot seed Essential Oils. Do make sure that you do no wear anything containing coumarins, especially Bergapten (in Bergamot and others) if you are going into sunlight (coumarins can cause very nasty burns with very little sun). This includes most citrus oils, sandalwood and a few others. To be sure, only use these oils at night, unless you are sure that they are distilled and not cold-pressed, or have had the coumarins removed (in which case, the bottle will be marked FCF).
Sun spots –
These tend to be lone-spots or in small, localised areas. These are simply little clumps of melanin from the sun, we pretty much all get them as we age! If you treat them as soon as they appear, you can get rid of them pretty well. The longer they’ve been there, the darker they become and the longer they will take to go and can take 3 months to fade. After treatment, again, you must cover that area when in the sun. These respond well to the same treatment as Melasma, but have been shown to respond to AHAs at 10%
These don’t need anything too exotic to shrink them, mixing 10ml castor or jojoba oil with 2ml baking soda and 6 drops of Frankincense oil, 2 drops of Lemon oil (see above regarding coumarins). Leave this on the area overnight and repeat three times a week. Stop immediately in the area becomes inflamed and treat for two weeks, stop for a week and only repeat if the mole is not irritated or inflamed. You can repeat the process for two months.
Gerenrally lighting Jojoba, Argan and Rosehip, Apricot fixed oils, Lemon, Frankincense, Bergamot; Carrot seed; Sandalwood Essential oils. Kojic acid at 3%; Licorice; Alpha arbitin, Hyaluronic acid and Glycolic acid can all help as can AHAs used at 5% Licorice root – brightens and lightens.
When in doubt, be gentle! Skin can become irritated quite easily and tends to respond better to a slower, gentler process.