Whether it's hyper pigmentation, sun or liver spots, freckles, acne marks, scars, or birthmarks, most people don't have evenly coloured skin. According to a panel of dermatologists and plastic surgeons, the key to lightening these types of uneven skin pigmentation is essentially exfoliation. Exfoliation is a method of sloughing off the outer, dead skin cells to reveal a newer, softer, more evenly coloured layer of skin.
In addition to laser peels, chemical peels, and photo-facial treatments, several commercial products are available to exfoliate the skin, thereby lightening unwanted dark spots. However, as exposed on the Tyra Banks show, some of these commercial concoctions have scary and outright dangerous ingredients. These controversial creams may contain such ingredients as mercury, alpha hydroxy acids, arsenic, and hydroquinone--a chemical used in developing photographs. Many are concerned they may cause cancer.
Home remedies are safe, easy, and far less costly, although results take longer to achieve. These home recipes basically use natural acids to dry and bleach the skin and fine-grit pastes to act as exfoliants. As with all of these recipes, apply the mixture all over or spot treat with a brush. Allow to remain on skin for recommended duration, then rinse off with cool water.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Small make-up brush
- Mortar and pestle
- Mixing bowl (non-metal)
- Spoon (non-metal)
- Face towel
- Gram powder (ground chickpea flour)
- Milk (regular, powdered or raw--unpasteurised--depending on your organic zeal)
- Almond oil
- Limes & lemons
- Fresh mint leaves
- Coconut milk
- Pineapple juice
- Dried orange peels
- Egg white
To make this milk and lime mask, mix 1 tablespoon of gram flour (easily found at health food stores) with 2 tablespoons milk and 2 to 3 drops of lime juice. Leave mixture on for 15 minutes, then wash off. Use daily for 4 weeks, then taper off using only once a week.
Here is a paste using almonds: in a glass of water, soak 4 almonds overnight. Drain and grind into a very fine paste. Use 1 teaspoon almond paste, 1 egg white and 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice. Apply to face and neck. Rinse off with cold water. Apply daily for two weeks, followed by two times a week.
Almond oil is a little easier to use than making almond paste. For this almond and honey pack, mix together 1 teaspoon milk powder, 1 teaspoon honey, 1 teaspoon juice, and 1/2 teaspoon almond oil. Apply mask to face and wash off after 10 to 15 minutes.
For a completely different approach, grind fresh mint leaves into a paste and apply to face for 20 minutes. Rinse with cold water; use for 15 days.
While you are in mashing mode, make this tomato & lime mask: mash a tomato and add 2 to 3 drops of lime juice. Apply to face and let sit for 20 minutes. Rinse. Apply two times a day for a few weeks.
Returning to milk, combine equal parts fresh coconut milk and fresh pineapple juice. Apply this coconut pineapple juice with a brush and rinse after 20 min. Use daily until desired results are achieved.
This final mask takes a little preparation. Scrub pesticides off orange peels and dry in warm place for several days. Grind dried orange peels and add enough milk to form a paste. Apply milk and orange paste to face, rinsing after 15 to 20 minutes. Use until skin lightening results are achieved.
Tips and warnings
- As these techniques provide gradual results, they are most easily used by adopting into a daily skin care routine.
- If you do not already, use a sunscreen daily.
- Avoid the area around the eyes.
- If irritation occurs, stop applying immediately and contact a dermatologist.
- Always rinse off lemon juice before going in the sun.
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