How do you make dark spots go away? Are dark spots on your skin dangerous? In this article, you will learn about dark spots and the different ways to reduce their appearance, including 7 essential oils that you could try.
- 1 Dark Spots: Symptoms, Types, and Treatments
- 2 Best Essential Oils for Dark Spots
- 3 How to Use Essential Oils for Dark Spots
Dark Spots: Symptoms, Types, and Treatments
Dark spots on the skin—also called as age spots, hyperpigmentation, solar lentigines, or liver spots—are seldom a sign of a serious medical condition. They can appear anywhere on the body. However, they are most likely to appear on sun-exposed areas, such as your face, your back, your shoulders, your arms, and the back of your hands.
So, why do dark spots and patches appear on the skin?
Dark spots usually appear because something causes the skin to produce excess melanin, a group of natural pigments that give your eyes, hair, and skin their natural color. All people who have a medium to deep skin complexion are more susceptible to dark spots and patches because they have more melanin than those with a lighter skin complexion. This risk increases as they get older.
There are many types of dark spots. These three are the most common:
Age spots also go by the names liver spots and solar lentigines. These flat and oval spots are usually black, brown, or tan in color. They start to appear during the adult years, particularly at the age of 50 and above. 
It is not yet clear why people get them. Generally, they are caused by an excess production of melanin due to the normal aging process or exposure to ultraviolet radiation, such as sunlight and tanning beds.
True age spots are non-cancerous, thus do not require any medical treatment. If you want to lighten them, you have plenty of options to choose from. You could try bleaching products or nonsurgical cosmetic procedures, such as laser therapy and chemical peels.
Previously known as chloasma, melasma causes grayish-brown patches that could appear on your cheeks, forehead, at the top of your upper lip, chin, or nasal bridge. These dark patches are more likely to affect women than men, especially those who have a hormonal imbalance, such as pregnant women and women taking birth control pills.
Avoiding sun exposure is one of the best ways to treat melasma. Your skin doctor (dermatologist) may also prescribe a combination of topical treatments. For instance, tretinoin (retinoic acid) is usually used together with other specially formulated creams containing hydroquinone or azelaic acid.
Post-inflammatory pigmentation, or acquired melanosis, is the result of an inflammatory skin disease (e.g., psoriasis and acne) or trauma to the first and second layer of the skin (e.g., surgery and incorrect use of chemical peels). Anyone could get this, but it is mostly observed in dark-skinned people.
It is not easy to treat post-inflammatory pigmentation. On average, it could take 6 to 12 months before you could significantly lighten this type of dark spot. 
To avoid making post-inflammatory dark spots worse, avoid prolonged sun exposure. If that is not possible, be sure to apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen whenever you are going out. You could also use bleaching products or undergo cosmetic procedures, such as chemical peeling and laser therapy, to lighten them faster.
How can you prevent or completely fade dark spots?
To prevent new dark spots from forming or the old ones from becoming darker, avoid excessive sun exposure. It is also important to have healthy sun habits, such as:
- Apply sunscreen generously 15 to 30 minutes before going outdoors, even on a cloudy day. Reapply every 2 hours.
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat and protective clothing. Your clothes should be made from fabrics that are tightly woven or knitted, which absorb less ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Fabrics made from synthetic fibers, such as acrylic, lycra, nylon, and polyester, provide more sun protection than bleached cotton.
- Wear sunglasses that can block out 75% to 90% of visible light. 
One of the best treatments for dark spots is a topical cream containing hydroquinone. Most dermatologists prescribe 4% hydroquinone cream, although there is a 2% version of this cream that you could buy over the counter.  Hydroquinone cream works by slowing down the activity of melanocytes, which in turn lightens dark spots.
Prolonged used of hydroquinone, especially at high concentrations (4% or higher), could be irritating and toxic to the skin. Although they are less effective, dermatologists prescribe steroids or tretinoin in place or in a combination of topical hydroquinone.
Essential oils might also help. Each works in different ways, but most of them prevent or fade dark spots by reducing inflammation, treating various skin diseases, delaying premature skin aging, healing damaged skin, and lightening and brightening the skin.
These are some of the best essential oils that you could use alone or as ingredients to your homemade skin care recipes.
Best Essential Oils for Dark Spots
Carrot Seed Essential Oil
Carrot seed essential oil is one of the best essential oils for the skin. Due to its high levels of antioxidants, including beta-carotene, it can keep the skin healthy, young-looking, and free from blemishes. 
When produced in excess due to different factors (ultraviolet light, air pollution, stress, etc.), free radicals can wreak havoc on the skin by increasing inflammation. Chronic inflammation could damage collagen, the protein that gives your skin its elasticity and firmness. Thus, you develop wrinkles, fine lines, and skin sagging. It also increases the production of skin pigments (melanin), causing dark spots.
Antioxidants, such as beta-carotene, neutralize free radicals and stop them from potentially causing dark spots and other signs of skin aging. The great thing about carrot seed essential oil is it makes your favorite anti-aging and correcting creams more effective.  Just add 5 to 6 drops for every ounce of lotion, cream, or serum.
Side effects of carrot seed essential oil:
It could cause allergic reactions on areas of the skin that have been exposed to the sun or other sources of ultraviolet radiation. To avoid this, do not go outside in the sun within 12 to 24 hours after application.
Do not use it on children under the age of 6, pregnant women, and people with nervous system-related sickness, such as epilepsy.
Lemon Essential Oil
One of the many great uses of lemon essential oil is it can help brighten and lighten the skin. That is thanks to limonene, one of its major compounds that has bleaching, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties. 
It is common for people with acne-prone skin to experience post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Lemon essential oil is great for acne and other inflammatory skin diseases because it stops the growth or kills disease-causing microscopic organisms. 
Lemon essential oil may also help improve blood flow.  When your blood circulation is faulty, your skin (and body organs) does not get the nutrients and oxygen it needs. Some skin specialists believe that this could result in various skin issues, including uneven skin tone.
To take advantage of its skin benefits, simply dilute it in a mild carrier oil and gently massage a drop or two into your skin using circular motions. Do this at least twice a day.
Side effects of lemon essential oil:
Lemon essential oil is typically safe when applied to the skin or inhaled. However, like carrot seed essential oil, it could cause sun sensitivity reactions, such as blisters, itching, and sunburn. It does not have known interactions with oral medications and skin care products.
Sandalwood Essential Oil
Sandalwood essential oil is widely used in skin care preparations because of its ability to treat common skin problems, such as superficial wounds, acne, boils, pimples, eczema, psoriasis, dandruff, warts, and scars. It is effective in keeping your skin healthy and beautiful because of its various compounds, particularly santalol, which possesses antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial actions.  
The woody and sweet scent of sandalwood essential oil can help make you feel relaxed and peaceful. And according to a study published in The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, the essential oil derived from Indian sandalwood (Santalum album) is a promising treatment for psoriasis and other inflammatory skin diseases, such as eczema and acne.  Once a psoriasis flare up subsides, it often leaves dark spots or patches on the skin.
Side effects of lemon essential oil:
Sandalwood essential oil is usually considered non-irritating to the skin, although it could cause dermatitis (skin inflammation) in people with sensitive skin. Wait at least 12 to 24 hours before going outdoors in the sun because it could cause photosensitivity reactions. It has no known interactions with oral medications and skin care products.
Do not use it on children under the age of 6, pregnant women, and people with liver disease.
Rosemary Essential Oil
Stress can trigger or worsen skin problems, such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis—all of which could leave dark marks and scars on the skin as part of the natural healing process. A study shows that inhaling rosemary essential oil, along with lavender essential oil, for five minutes could significantly relieve stress. 
Your liver is the master cleanser of the body. If it becomes damaged, nearly every part of the body will be affected. For example, people with liver problems could experience jaundice (yellowish pigmentation of the skin) and/or small red, brown, or gray spots, especially on the face, back of the hands, or around the nose. 
Traditionally, rosemary is used to support the health of the digestive organs, including the liver. It is considered hepatoprotective, which means it could potentially protect the liver from damage. 
And it seems rosemary essential oil can offer the same benefit. In an animal study published in the BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, researchers discovered that rosemary essential oil in 5 mg/kg and 10 mg/kg doses has hepatoprotective effects. 
Side effects of rosemary essential oil:
Rosemary essential oil could cause irritation in people with sensitive skin. Consuming it is also highly discouraged because it could cause serious side effects, such as spasms, nausea, and vomiting. If you are pregnant, hypertensive (having a blood pressure of 120/80 mmHg and above), pregnant or breastfeeding, or have seizure attacks, limit or totally avoid using rosemary essential oil externally or internally.
Geranium Essential Oil
Many ancient Egyptians have used geranium essential oil for their beauty rituals. Today, it is considered one of the most effective essential oils for treating a variety of common skin issues, such as oily skin, eczema, wounds, and dermatitis, because of its antiseptic, antibacterial, and cicatrisant (wound-healing) properties.  These properties of geranium essential oil are the exact reasons why you should include it in your skin care regimen.
It may help reduce the appearance of scars and dark spots or patches by promoting good blood flow, reducing inflammation, and equally distributing melanin to make it appear your skin is uniform in color. 
To keep your skin free from infection, scars, and dark marks, simply dilute 2 to 5 drops of geranium essential oil in 2 teaspoons of mild carrier oil (coconut oil, almond oil, jojoba oil, etc.). Then, dip a Q-tip or cotton ball in the mixture and dab to the area of concern twice a day.
Side effects of geranium essential oil:
Geranium essential oil is considered a non-irritant, non-toxic, and non-sensitizing oil. However, there might be some people who will react negatively to it and experience rashes or burning sensations. That is why you need to be extra careful when applying it on your face or other sensitive areas of your body.
Do not use it on children under the age of 6, pregnant women, and people with health problems involving the heart and blood pressure.
Frankincense Essential Oil
Another great option is frankincense essential oil. This “king of essential oils” is a valued ingredient in skin care preparations because of its moisturizing, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic properties. A review published in the Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine suggests that it has a similar chemical structure as steroids, which work by reducing inflammation. 
If your skin is dry, inflamed, or itchy, you will most likely keep on scratching or picking the spot. This will only cause your skin to become more irritated and inflamed, which in turn could lead to scarring and discoloration of the skin. Not only that, the break in your skin could provide potentially harmful germs (bacteria, fungi, or viruses) a way into your body and cause different types of skin issues, such as acne, wound infection, and boils.
Perhaps one of the most interesting properties of frankincense essential oil is its cell-regenerative action. This means it promotes the production of new and healthy skin cells, without harming your existing skin cells and tissues.  This process keeps your skin glowing, smooth, blemish free, and young.
Side effects of frankincense essential oil:
Some of the possible side effects of frankincense essential oil are rashes, itching, hyperacidity of the stomach, nausea, indigestion (upset stomach), and difficulty in breathing. Aside from children and pregnant or breastfeeding women, it is not also recommended for people who are at risk for bleeding or taking herbs or medications for dissolving blood clots (anticoagulants). Overall, it is safe to use on the skin or through inhalation.
Rose Essential Oil
Every once in a while, it is great to splurge on an expensive essential oil like rose essential oil. This essential oil is fabulous for the skin for many reasons. Some people mix it with their favorite moisturizer, lotion, cream, or with a mild carrier oil because it is rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. 
If you always get acne or pimples, or if you have a wound or an inflammatory skin condition, such as eczema, take advantage of rose essential oil’s strong antibacterial activity. Out of the ten essential oils they tested, Chinese researchers found rose essential oil to have one of the strongest antibacterial effects. Just after five minutes, it was able to totally destroy the Propionibacterium acnes, the bacterium that causes acne. 
To keep your skin free from acne, dark spots, or other skin problems, try dabbing a drop or two of genuine rose essential oil on your skin thrice daily. You can mix it with a carrier oil if your skin is sensitive.
Side effects of rose essential oil:
Although typically safe, rose essential oil might irritate the skin of some people. To be on the safe side, test a small amount on your skin and wait for 24 hours for any hypersensitivity reactions, such as rashes, skin redness, and blisters.
Not much is known about the effects of rose essential oil on babies and children. However, pregnant women are recommended not to use it because it might cause a miscarriage.
How to Use Essential Oils for Dark Spots
Nighttime Lightening Cream
What you will need:
- 10 drops lemon essential oil
- 5 drops carrot seed essential oil
- 5 drops lavender essential oil
- 8 teaspoons of emu oil (or other carrier oil you like) – Emu oil is rich in fatty acids, which can reduce pain and inflammation (swelling).
- Amber glass cream jar
- 1/2 cup (170 g or 6 oz) of soft shea butter
- 1 tbsp distilled water
- Blender (or electric mixer)
- 1.Pour 1 tablespoon of distilled water and 1/2 cup of shea butter into the blender.
- 2.Next, add the essential oils one drop at a time. Mix well.
- 3. Pour the resulting mixture into an amber glass cream jar. Store in a cool, dark place. Use within 6 months.
Before applying to your skin, perform a skin patch test first to find out if you’re allergic to any of the ingredients.
Lemon and carrot seed essential oils are considered phototoxic, so avoid sun exposure within 24 hours after topical application.
Soothing Blend for Dry, Inflamed, or Itchy Skin
What you will need:
- 3 drops eucalyptus essential oil
- 3 drops German chamomile essential oil
- 3 drops rose essential oil (Alternative: geranium essential oil)
- 2 drops lavender essential oil
- 4 to 6 teaspoons of tamanu (Calophyllum inophyllum) oil – This oil is often used for treating acne, scars, inflammatory skin diseases (eczema and psoriasis), age spots, stretch marks, and rashes because of its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal, and other healing properties.
- 3 teaspoons of jojoba oil
- Amber glass bottle with glass dropper
- Pour the tamanu oil and jojoba oil into the amber glass bottle. Gently shake or stir using a glass or stainless steel rod to mix well.
- Add the essential oils one drop at a time. Stir to mix well.
- Store in a cool, dark place. Use within 6 months.
Before applying it to your skin, perform a skin patch test first to find out if you are allergic to any of the ingredients.
Don’t use tamanu oil if you’re allergic to mangosteen or bitter kola.
Fading Dark Spots Can Take Time
Essential oils are not magic bullet solutions to dark spots or patches. Spots that are are a few shades darker than your skin or lies deep within your skin could take 6 to 12 months to fade, especially if you are going to use natural home remedies.  If you treat the root cause and use depigmenting and exfoliating agents early, you might get more favorable results faster.
Dark spots are normally harmless. However, if you notice any odd changes to your dark spots, get them check by your dermatologist immediately. Some of the signs and symptoms you should watch out for are :
- Changes in color
- A sore that does not get better
- Swelling beyond the border of the spot
- Sensation changes, such as pain or itchiness
- A dark spot that is growing or spreads into the surrounding skin
What are your most effective tips for lightening dark spots naturally? Please leave a comment below. I would love to know your thoughts about essential oils for dark spots!
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