You’ll Never Guess What May Be Causing Your Dark Spots

For the few that don’t suffer from skin discoloration of any type, lucky you. For the rest of us that struggle with dark spots, it’s a constant uphill battle that consists of trying to cover them up and lighten them so that they’re barely visible on our skin. And, while the sun is the main culprit of dark spots—although they can also form due to hormones, acne, inflammation and damage—a new study shows that there is yet another culprit out there that’s responsible for spots.

Research published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology called out traffic fumes, aka pollution, as the newest cause of unwanted discoloration. Also cited in the paper was a direct link to air pollution and the appearance of pigmentation and signs of aging on the skin.

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If you’re lucky enough to live in an area with next to no traffic or pollution, then your skin may fare better than those who live in densely populated and polluted areas. The pollution emitted from the fumes contains a mix of solid particles and liquid droplets that can penetrate past the skin and cause inflammation to occur, which, of course, sets off the whole pigmentation process. The study also exposed this statistic: Pigmentation treatments have risen by 300 percent in the UK and Northern Ireland.

The best way to prevent the damage is by shielding your skin from pollution (and, of course, always the sun) with a good arsenal of free-radical squashing antioxidants, like PCA SKIN Sheer Tint Broad Spectrum SPF 45 ($49) or Context Antioxidant Serum ($50). In terms of erasing the spots, your dermatologist or plastic surgeon can perform any one of a number of peels or lasers to mitigate the darkness. And, hydroquinone can be used at-home, too. 

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