What Is Causing the Uneven Skin Tone On Your Body?








Reference Lab

MAY 16, 2022



Uneven skin tone on the body is a common skin concern among men and women, especially in the aging population. It includes facial flushing, hyperpigmentation, and blotches on your skin. Several factors can cause this condition, including hormonal changes and lifestyle habits.

While some people consult a dermatologist for medical treatment, others often seek cosmetic solutions first. So what causes skin discoloration and how can you even the skin tone on your body?

Why Do I Have Uneven Skin Tone on My Body?

Uneven skin tone is caused by several internal and external factors. Some include:


#1 Sun Damage

When skin is exposed to UV rays, its cells naturally increase the production of melanin - a pigment molecule that is designed to protect your DNA from UV damage. The more sun exposure, the more melanin is produced and the darker your skin becomes, leading to skin tanning and also hyperpigmentation. Excessive sun exposure resulting in the overproduction of melanin and subsequent skin pigmentation is a leading cause of irregularities in the skin tone, especially as we age, due to its cumulative effects. As a result, many start to notice uneven coloration on several parts of their face and body when they reach their 30s and 40s, especially those who have experienced extensive sun exposure throughout their lives.


#2 Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH) from Skin Injuries

Skin trauma, such as bug bites, acne, scratching wounds, or burns, can also lead to skin pigmentation on different parts of your body. These marks are known as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH). PIH is your skin's natural reaction to inflammation as a part of the healing process. Because of this, it’s important to protect wounds and scars from sun exposure, so as to avoid exacerbating the pigmentation in skin.


#3 Aging

You may have noticed that older individuals often present with a more noticeable uneven skin tone than their younger counterparts. As you age, it's common to experience increasing visible discoloration on areas of your skin most exposed to damage, including your face, neck, and hands. These patches are often termed "age spots," which are tan or dark brown spots that appear flat 4. In some cases, they can be even black or gray with a diameter of half an inch or more. The development of age spots can be caused by:

Less Collagen Production

People over 50 are more likely to experience uneven skin tone on their bodies, partly due to a decrease in their natural collagen production. Collagen is a structural protein in skin largely responsible for skin's plumpness and elasticity. Over time, as collagen production decreases, skin becomes thinner and drier. This thinner skin can make discoloration more visible.

Naturally Lighter Skin Tones

People with lighter skin tones have higher chances of developing age spots. This is because they naturally have less melanin content within the skin, which acts to protect skin cells from UV damage. Therefore, people with lighter skin are more susceptible to UV damage and subsequent hyperpigmentation, including age spots. Additionally, the contrast between their natural skin tone and age spots can be more evident.
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Is Uneven Skin Tone an Indicator of an Internal Issue?

Having an uneven skin tone on body and facial features can be a sign of an internal issue. For example, melasma is a skin condition that occurs due to increased hormone production, particularly during pregnancy 9.


Internal Contributors

Several internal factors can affect our skin's melanocytes (cells that produce melanin) and cause discolored patches. These include 10:
  • Genes
  • Allergies
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Hormonal changes during pregnancy or due to the use of oral contraceptives, intrauterine contraceptive devices, and hormone replacement therapy.


Skin Conditions

Multiple underlying skin conditions can also result in uneven skin tone on the body, especially as you age. These can include:
  • Seborrheic Keratosis. A skin growth commonly found in middle-aged or older people. It looks like a wart or precancerous skin growth. However, this condition is harmless. It can cause scaly, raised areas on several body parts 5.
  • Dermatosis Papulosa. A common skin condition in people with darker skin tones. The affected skin has small, discolored raised areas, often present on the skin of the face and neck. These are not dangerous, though many people seek treatment for aesthetic purposes 6.
  • Rosacea and dermatitis. These are some of the most common skin issues in people of all ages 8 and often result in an uneven skin tone that may look red.
Skin discoloration can also be due to the use of several medications, including antimalarials, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, amiodarone, tetracyclines, cytotoxic drugs, heavy metals, and psychotropic drugs 7.
If you believe your uneven skin tone is due to an underlying condition or use of a new medication, it’s best to consult a health care professional to confirm this suspicion and ensure nothing more serious is going on.

Does Uneven Skin Tone Have Long-term Effects?

Uneven skin tone can have permanent or temporary effects. However, if you seek medical advice as soon as you spot uneven skin tone on your body, the chances are that you can reduce the discoloration more easily and quickly.

How Can I Achieve Even Skin Tone on My Body?

There are many ways to reduce the appearance of discoloration on your body. These could be over-the-counter (OTC) products, lifestyle changes, and professional treatments.


Wait-and-Watch

Depending on the cause of uneven skin tone, you might just need to ride it out. In the cases of pregnancy-derived hormonal changes, hyperpigmentation usually goes away within 12 months of delivery without any treatment 11. This could also be the case with post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.


Identify and Treat the Underlying Cause

Uneven skin tone can often result from using a new skincare product or undergoing a lifestyle change. So, the first thing to do is evaluate whether you underwent any changes prior to the hyperpigmentation.


Use Sunscreen

Since sun damage is the leading cause of skin hyperpigmentation, especially with age, sunscreen can be your best defense against uneven skin tone. Regardless of the weather and your skin tone, using sunscreen all year round should be an essential step in your daily body care routine. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that everyone use water-resistant and broad-spectrum skin protection with an SPF of 30 or higher 13.


Find a Scientifically-Validate OTC Product

There are many a href="https://www.oneskin.co/">topical skin care products available for purchase online and in stores aimed at treating uneven skin tone on the body. Before choosing the right one, it's best to consult your dermatologist to identify any underlying conditions that may react to certain products. Most OTC products aimed at treating hyperpigmentation generally contain one of the following ingredients:
  • Vitamin C. A potent antioxidant that protects your skin against sun damage while suppressing melanin production 14.
  • Glycolic Acid. Reduces the signs of sun-related aging, acne and acne scars, and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation 15.
  • Salicylic Acid. This ingredient can work well for post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation 16.
  • Kojic Acid. Though effective at treating hyperpigmentation, this acid is a known skin irritant. It can actually cause dermatitis, including eczema, especially for those with sensitive skin. In fact, Kojic Acid has been banned as a potential carcinogen in Japan, Korea, and Switzerland 17.
  • Retinol. Also relatively effective at treating hyperpigmentation, overuse of retinol can strip your skin too quickly and reduce barrier function significantly, potentially compromising your long-term skin health.
  • Hydroquinone. Hydroquinone is usually used to lighten the skin. However, prolonged use (over 3 months), can cause ochronosis, a disease that causes blue/black discoloration of facial tissue.
Though these ingredients are common, they might not be the most effective and they could compromise your long-term skin health. Continue reading to find out how a peptide moisturizer could be the best ingredient for reducing hyperpigmentation.

Try OneSkin’s OS-01 Topical Supplements

When choosing a topical body supplement to help improve skin tone, it's ideal to pick one that is scientifically validated, with studies and data supporting its impact on hyperpigmentation and skin tone. OneSkin's Topical Supplements are powered by their proprietary OS-01 peptide - A powerful ingredient scientifically proven to reduce hyperpigmentation in skin superior to common treatments, such as kojic acid and retinol. Additionally, in a 12-week clinical study evaluating the impact of OS-01 FACE Topical Supplement on skin health markers, 95.5% of participants experienced an improvement in skin evenness, radiance, pores, and firmness.


Medical Treatments

Depending on the severity of your uneven skin tone and the underlying cause, your dermatologist may suggest one of the medical treatments below:
    • Laser Therapy. Ablative laser therapy rejuvenates the skin by removing the upper skin layer and enabling new skin to replace it. This treatment also stimulates collagen development. Most laser treatments also reduce post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) by lightening and depigmenting the affected skin 21.
    • Microdermabrasion. An exfoliating treatment for dead skin cells and hyperpigmentation with the use of tiny particles.
    • Chemical Peels. Another effective exfoliation treatment for uneven skin tone. Chemical peels use highly-concentrated acids to treat discolored skin. They minimize hyperpigmentation by resurfacing the epidermis (upper skin layer). More powerful chemical peels may also penetrate the dermis (middle layer) of your skin to deliver more apparent results, but with a longer recovery time. Additionally, this treatment has a risk of burning your skin if mishandled, which could result in additional skin damage.
    • With the above methods, you may see a difference in your skin within 6-12 months
12
    . However, it may take longer than that.

Lifestyle Changes that Lessen the Appearance of Uneven Skin Tone

Wondering how to boost skin moisture or how to get rid of uneven skin tone on the body without any topical products or medical treatment? The answer may lie in your lifestyle. Here are some lifestyle changes that can improve skin tone:
  • Stay hydrated and keep your skin moisturized on a daily basis.
  • Avoid sugary foods, as they contribute to the development of visible aging signs in your skin 224.
  • Reduce your intake of alcohol, spicy foods, dairy, and greasy foods, all of which have been shown to negatively impact gut health and skin health 23.
  • Include Vitamin-C-rich fruits in your diet, like oranges, strawberries, bell peppers, guava, and kiwis 24).
  • Opt for foods containing niacin, a nutrient that boosts skin and hair health 25. These include green peas, poultry, tuna, and mushrooms.
  • Avoid all tobacco products.
  • Apply witch hazel and rosehip oil to reduce discoloration 26.

Key Takeaways

  • Uneven skin tone refers to hyperpigmentation, acne scars, and facial flushing or redness. It can be temporary or permanent.
  • Several internal factors and external factors result in uneven skin tone on body and facial features, with the biggest culprit being exposure to UV rays.
  • Hyperpigmentation can be treated with OTC products, lifestyle changes, and professional treatments.
  • OneSkin’s proprietary peptide, which powers their line of Topical Supplements, has been scientifically proven to reduce hyperpigmentation superior to common topical treatments, such as Kojic Acid and Retinol.


Sources:

  1. https://www.skincancer.org/risk-factors/tanning/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2921758/
  3. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40266-018-00633-w
  4. https://www.aad.org/public/cosmetic/age-spots-marks/what-causes-spots
  5. https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/a-z/seborrheic-keratoses-overview
  6. https://www.healthline.com/health/dermatosis-papulosa-nigra#appearance
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11705252/#:~:text=The%20main%20drugs%20implicated%20in,heavy%20metals%20and%20psychotropic%20drugs
  8. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/dermatitis
  9. https://dermnetnz.org/topics/skin-changes-in-pregnancy/
  10. https://www.medicinenet.com/what_causes_hyperpigmentation/article.htm
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3183040/
  12. https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/skin-care-secrets/routine/fade-dark-spots
  13. https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/sun-protection/sunscreen-patients/sunscreen-faqs
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5605218/
  15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3875240/
  16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6785964/
  17. https://www.healthline.com/health/kojic-acid
  18. https://www.aocd.org/page/Retinoidstopical
  19. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17147561/
  20. https://www.oneskin.co/blogs/reference-lab/skin-hyperpigmentation-what-it-is-common-treatments-and-how-os-01-improves-skin-hyperpigmentation
  21. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4142815/
  22. https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/skin-diet
  23. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods-that-cause-acne
  24. https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/foods-that-boost-the-immune-system
  25. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/niacin-benefits
  26. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5796020/

Reviewed by Alessandra Zonari, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) and Co-Founder of OneSkin

Alessandra earned her Master’s degree in stem cell biology, and her PhD in skin regeneration and tissue engineering at the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Brazil in collaboration with the 3B’s Research Group in Portugal. Alessandra did a second post-doctoral at the University of Coimbra in Portugal. She is a co-inventor of three patents and has published 20 peer-reviewed papers in scientific journals.