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Are Clay Masks good for Dark Spots?
Skin, our largest organ, is also that part of our body which takes the most damage every day. Constant exposure to intense sunlight and pollution does not help at all.
Our skin is constantly working to protect itself from harmful damage but also working to repair damage that has been done.
For example, our body has to work to repair damage done by popping a huge acne volcano and leaving a scar in it’s wake.
These are often referred to as “dark spots” or “acne scars”.
So today, let’s dig a little deeper into what they are and if clay can help fade acne scars.
At a glance,
What are dark spots?
Dark spots are areas on your skin with higher pigment concentration. This pigment is called melanin and it is responsible for imparting color to our skin.
Why do you have these dark spots?
By far the most important cause of dark spots or hyperpigmentation is damage from excessive sun exposure. Other causes include inflammation like acne or rosacea, ageing or hormonal imbalance such as pregnancy or use of contraceptives.
Does clay help with dark spots?
Clay can reduce inflammation of the skin, prevent acne and break outs and over time. The wound healing ability of clay will stop the source of acne caused dark spots, also called hyperpigmentation. Some types of clay also helps in exfoliation which is another important treatment for dark spots.
One of the most common skin concerns today includes these dark spots.
I get asked about this all the time, so I thought it was about time that we get some answers.
What are Dark Spots?
The color of our skin is determined by the amount of melanin in our skin. Melanin is a pigment produced by special types of skin cells. These cells are conveniently called melanocytes.
The function of this pigment is to provide protection against harmful UV light damage. We also see increased melanin production on areas of our skin which are most exposed to the sun. Like our forearms and face.
A dark spot is a localized area of high melanin concentration. This is also termed as “hyperpigmentation”. Which as you can guess is mostly a result of sun damage.
Dark spots often take 6 to 12 months to fade. If the color lies deep within your skin, it can take years.
But there are also other reasons of hyperpigmentation, which we will discuss.
What is the cause of Dark Spots?
There are many causes and diseases associated with hyperpigmentation. It is one of the most prominent issues people take to a dermatologist.
Some of these causes include:
- Ultra-Violet Light
- Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (aka acne scars)
Let us go through the most common causes of dark spots.
Ultra-Violet (UV) Light
UV Light from the sun is called a “complete carcinogen”. It penetrates the cells and cause structural damage and DNA mutation. This can lead to problems like wrinkles all the way to skin cancer.
Melanin act as a filter and stops UV light from reaching the deeper layers of our skin. This is the reason excessive sun exposure forms areas of intense melanin accumulation.
This is by far the most common cause of hyperpigmentation.
Fun Fact: clays have been studied for it’s efficacy for use in sunscreens to protect your skin from UV damage. Even more potent against sun damage than commercially available sunscreens.
Also called maturational dyschromia mostly effects dark skinned people. This usually occurs on the sides of forehead and cheekbones.
Although hyperpigmentation due to ageing can present in areas not exposed to sun light. The cause can still be traced back to chronic photo-damage of the skin.
Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation AKA acne scars
Any injury or inflammation of the skin such as acne or rosacea can also lead to aggravated discoloration of the affected area.
This is called post inflammatory hyperpigmentation or AKA acne scars.
This condition is again more prominent in people of color. Mainly, because of higher number of active melanocytes.
Melasma is a skin condition affecting mostly women. It presents as dark colored patches mainly on the central areas of face. But can also involve on other parts of the body.
Malasma occurs not only due sun exposure but hormones play an important role. It is sometimes called the “mask of pregnancy”.
Use of contraceptives is also one of the causes.
4 Common Derma Treatments for Dark Spots
Hyperpigmentation is extremely common in both men and women and people of any age. Their existence wont cause harm, but some people prefer to remove them for cosmetic purposes.
There are a variety of therapies developed for treating dark spots. At home products and creams can work. Procedures are more expensive and tend to sometimes work faster. Some of the most popular procedures include:
Micodermabrasion is a form of physical exfoliation. Either a device in professional settings or a scrub at home is used. The rough surface is used to exfoliate the surface layer of skin.
This brings new healthy skin cells to the surface. Reducing the appearance of dark spots.
2. Chemical Peel
It is also a form of exfoliation. Chemicals such as acids are used instead of physical scrubs. The acid penetrates into the skin and dislodges the damaged surface layer. In this way new cells can take their place.
Pulse light laser is used to treat dark spots. The laser is targeted onto the affected area of the skin. The light breaks down melanin inside the cells and lightens the skin.
Cryotherapy uses chemicals like liquid nitrogen. It is applied on the damaged skin (most often lesions or keratosis) to freeze it. This forms a blister and encourages the skin underneath to renew itself. The damaged surface skin then peels off.
At Home Treatments for Hyperpigmentation
There are many options to help your skin heal with products and treatments you can easily use at home.
The first step to taking in stopping hyperpigmentation.
Always wear your sunscreen and stop picking your pimples.
Doing these 2 very simple steps will help with your dark spots, because you won’t get them to begin with.
If only it were that simple. I know how tempting and how hard it is to not pick that pimple.
And some people are quick to reach for the whitening creams, but beware, some of these can contain mercury.
The most popular creams for fading dark spots include:
- Vitamin C Serum (and it’s also amazing for balancing your complexion)
- Aloe vera
- Rosehip seed oil
- Retinoid (your skin will be super sensitive to the sun with use of this ingredient)
- Manuka honey
- Clay Face Masks
Obviously I am a big fan of clay face masks. Except serums and retinoids, all the ingredients listed above can also be added your any of your dry clay face masks.
Does Clay help Dark Spots?
Clay is a natural compound which is full of minerals.
The most important quality of clay is absorption. This is why it is widely used by people with oily skin. Mixing different types of clay with moisturizing agents can bring the benefits of clay to those with all skin types.
Clay masks are most effective with dark spots caused by acne because it focuses on fixing the cause.
Clay helps skin with dark spots and hyperpigmentation mainly in two ways.
Clay is anti-inflammatory in nature. It calms and soothes the skin. Some clay has anti-bacterial properties as well (our bentonite clay does). Both these qualities help reduce break outs, acne and rosacea which are an important cause of hyperpigmentation.
There are limited studies in regards to clay for hyperpigmentation. But a simple youtube search will find many people who have lightened their acne scars with bentonite clay. This Bentonite clay study with rats found that those receiving a bentonite cream daily improved the rate of wound healing quicker than the control group.
Less breakouts and inflammation over time lightens the appearance of dark spots on the skin.
Regular exfoliation replaces the sun damaged cells. It renews the surface of skin for an even complexion.
Kaolin clay is very popularly used in skincare. The special property of kaolin is that, when mixed into a paste, it does not dissolve entirely. Tiny solid particles are left floating in the mixture. They help to gently exfoliate the surface layer of skin.
All types of clay masks are effective for adsorbing impurities from your skin including dead skin cells and clogged pores.
Here are my favorite complexion balancing face masks:
- Try exfoliating and masking with our cup of java exfoliation mask
- Papain is known for it’s natural brightening effects with a papaya clay mask.
- Turmeric Bentonite Face Mask
Dark spots, uneven skin tone and conditions like Melasma are extremely common and affects our quality of life. I know it has caused me a ton of embarrassement from having dark spots from years of acne.
Among all the professional and expensive treatments for this condition, clay provides a safe, affordable and natural alternative.
The question for if clay is good for dark spots is part of our clay mask FAQ series. We also answer:
- Are clay masks good for mature skin?
- Can a clay mask tighten pores?
- Should I use a clay mask before or after a shower?
Disclaimer: Our content does not constitute a dermatologist or medical advice.