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Women applying PCA SKIN serum to face
Filtered image showing discoloration in a woman's skin on her face.

Age doesn't have to come with spots

Discoloration, often referred to as hyperpigmentation, is uneven dark spots or patches (not freckles) on your skin. These skin discolorations can be caused by acne breakouts, hormonal shifts, birth control or sun exposure. The chain of events that causes pigment starts below the surface of the skin and can take years to appear on the surface of the skin. Once signs of unwanted pigment appear, they are often difficult to remedy. Be patient – depending on the cause of the discoloration, which sometimes takes years to form, it can be weeks or months before it starts to clear up with treatment.

Hyperpigmentation is caused by a complex chain of reactions that is started when the skin detects potentially harmful inflammation. Our sophisticated skin biology has a built-in defense system that stimulates the production of “packets” of pigment that migrate up into skin cells and act as umbrellas over skin cells, which hold our all-important DNA. These umbrellas of pigment protect our DNA from damage.

This pigmentation process is why the skin tans. As a response to sun exposure that causes inflammation in the skin, our cells release dark, protective pigment that shows up as a tan. This response is our skin protecting itself from DNA damage and skin cancer. Initially tanning is even across all skin, but after more years of exposure the pigment becomes more uneven and blotchy.

The skin cannot differentiate what is causing the inflammation, which is why other causes of inflammation such as breakouts, burns and hormonal changes lead to the same response. This inflammation is why many people’s skin darkens after a burn or a breakout.

Different sources of inflammation can cause hyperpigmentation in different depths in the skin. The deeper the pigment in the skin, the more challenging it is to treat and improve.

PCA SKIN recommends daily use of a broad spectrum SPF of at least 30 with a combination of professional treatments and daily care products to prevent and treat discoloration and hyperpigmentation. Find the best products for you and explore our discoloration essentials.