If stubborn blemishes have become the bane of your existence, you’re likely familiar with spot treatments. Known to help reduce the appearance of various skin care concerns, spot creams have become a must-have for many skin care lovers. But understanding the difference between various spot treatments and which kind is best to address your specific skin care needs can be difficult. Below, we’re sharing what you need to know about spot treatments, including how to add one to your skin care routine.
WHAT IS A SPOT TREATMENT?
A spot treatment, as you may already have guessed, involves targeting specific areas on your face to help address skin concerns such as blemishes, dark spots, age spots, sun spots as well as uneven skin tone. You can also choose from various formulas, including creams, gels, lotions, serums, and patches to suit your needs.
WHAT TYPES OF SPOT TREATMENTS ARE THERE?
Beyond containing different formulas and issues they address, a big differentiator between spot treatments is their main ingredients. Often, acne spot treatments are formulated with benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. Dark spot and age spot treatments may have the same ingredients or be combined into one product—niacinamide is a common ingredient in these types of products. The L’Oréal Paris Youth Code Dark Spot Correcting & Illuminating Serum Corrector is a great option to target these concerns as it’s formulated with niacinamide which helps to lighten spots and protect against further sun damage. The serum corrector formula helps to fade age spots, dark spots, sun spots, and post-acne marks.
HOW TO USE A SPOT TREATMENT IN YOUR ROUTINE
Now that you know what spot treatments are and what skin concerns they can address, check out how you can add one to your skin care routine, below.
PREP YOUR SKIN
In order for spot treatments to work effectively, they need to be applied to clean and exfoliated skin. Cleansing your face day and night is the foundation of any good skin care routine. This staple step removes dirt, oil, and other impurities from the surface of your skin, allowing treatments to sink into the skin further. The L’Oréal Paris Pure-Clay Detox & Brighten Cleanser, is formulated with three-pure clays and charcoal to get the job done.
Next, be sure to exfoliate as this crucial step works to remove dead skin cells that have built up on the surface of the skin. The L’Oréal Paris RevitaLift Bright Reveal Brightening Daily Scrub Cleanser is a great option because it contains gentle beads that aren’t irritating—they lightly exfoliate the skin to rid it of excess dead skin cells. How frequently you should exfoliate varies from person to person. Some people’s skin can only handle exfoliating once a week, while others can exfoliate a few times per week. Pay attention to your skin and do what feels right for you. If chemical exfoliants are more up your alley, the L’Oréal Paris RevitaLift Derm Intensives 10% Pure Glycolic Acid Serum is a great option because it not only evens the skin tone and reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, but it works to resurface the skin making it buttery smooth.
APPLY YOUR SPOT TREATMENT
Now for the star of the show—your spot treatment! In order to ensure you’re using the treatment properly, be sure to read the directions on the product you choose. This is extra important for treatments as the suggested application methods can greatly differ between products. For example, a product like the L’Oréal Paris Youth Code Dark Spot Correcting & Illuminating Serum Corrector should be applied to the skin before moisturiser morning and night. However, formulas with different ingredients or concentrations might be better off applied once daily or even weekly. Let the treatment dry before moving on to the next step. If you start smoothing products on top right away, the treatment will end up migrating to other parts of your face.
FINISH OFF YOUR SKIN CARE ROUTINE
Then, complete your skin care routine with a broad-spectrum sunscreen. You can knock out both steps with a moisturizer formulated with SPF, like the L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Triple Power Day Lotion SPF 30. Aside from SPF 30, this staple is formulated with glycolic acid, vitamin C, and pro-retinol for a moisturizer that helps to correct uneven skin tone, brighten skin, and reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
Photo Credit: Chaunte Vaughn
Spot treatments come in many different formulas but their main aim is to help to speed up the healing process by reducing inflammation and redness. They also help to reduce the appearance of acne.
There are also spot treatments that help fade post-acne scars, sun spots or dark spots. These formulas will often include brightening ingredients like L-ascorbic acid or retinoids. According to Dr. Henry, niacinamide is also a popular choice for treatments like this because it can be used for skin brightening. Furthermore, The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology reports that topical niacinamide can decrease skin hyperpigmentation and reduce redness and blotchiness.
How to Use a Spot Treatment
Some spot treatments are applied directly to blemishes, while some are applied all over the face. “We always want to treat and prevent,” says Dr. Henry. “I prefer all-over treatments, and then spot treatments if you have something that breaks through your all-over treatment.” An all-over treatment would be a facial serum that’s applied to the entire face to help brighten the complexion, while a spot treatment would be a formula that’s applied only on specific areas of the skin to address concerns like dark spots or active breakouts.
Pay attention to the packaging on your skin care to ensure you’re using you’re treatment as intended, and always consult with your dermatologist before adding a new product or ingredient to your skin care routine.
While you should also thoroughly read the directions on the product packaging or brand’s website, there is a right way (and wrong way) to apply a spot treatment. Here’s a general guide on how to use a spot treatment in your skin care routine.
1. Prep the Skin
Before applying a product or spot treatment, cleanse your skin. Applying any type of facial serum or spot treatment on dirty skin will have abysmal effectiveness and may even lead to potential irritation.
2. Apply Your Facial Serums
If you’re using a facial serum to target specific skin concerns, such as dullness, dark spots or acne breakouts, apply it all over the skin. Follow the instructions on the packaging for the correct application. Products like these aim to prevent and improve certain skin concerns and are most effective when they’re applied to your entire face.
3. Apply Your Targeted Spot Treatment
After all-over serums comes targeted treatments. The difference is that a targeted treatment is going to be applied directly to blemishes or dark spots (depending on what you’re treating), not all over the face. A spot treatment serves to target blemishes that break through your other treatments and facial serums, as per Dr. Henry.
No skin care routine is complete without moisturizer, regardless of your skin type. It will help to lock in hydration so your serums and spot treatments can penetrate the skin and work effectively.
How to Know if a Spot Treatment Is Working?
According to Dr. Henry, a good way to determine if your spot treatment is working is simply if you see improvement in the skin concern you’re trying to address. If you notice a rash forming or any type of skin irritation, that’s a good sign that your spot treatment is not working. In this case, you should cease use immediately, and check in with your dermatologist.
L’Oréal Paris Products That Can Help Improve Dark Spots
As Dr. Henry mentioned, it’s always a good idea to treat your skin as a whole to target and prevent different types of skin concerns. Here are a few L’Oréal Paris products that can help address dark spots in your routine.
This niacinamide serum is applied all over the skin to visibly reduce the appearance of dark spots with continued use over time. It includes ferulic acid and amino sulfonic acid to lightly exfoliate and brighten the skin. Skin looks clearer after just two weeks of consistent, daily use,
This lightweight night cream contains niacinamide and retinol to smooth wrinkles, even skin tone, brightens and counteracts the drying effects of retinol. Plus, it doesn’t feel heavy or greasy on the skin.
Vitamin C is a very popular antioxidant when it comes to brightening the skin and targeting visible signs of aging. This potent formula helps to increase radiance, even skin tone and minimize the appearance of large pores and fine lines. L’Oréal Paris experts recommend applying it in the morning and using the aforementioned niacinamide serum at night to effectively improve visible dark spots.
Glycolic acid is a popular alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that can help exfoliate and brighten the skin. This toning liquid works to gently remove surface level dead skin cells to reveal smoother, brighter skin, with continued use over time. It’s even infused with aloe vera to soothe the skin, and it’s suitable for all skin types.
Sunscreen is not a spot treatment or facial serum that improves skin issues per se, but it’s the best tool you can keep in your skin brightening regimen. This lightweight formula has UVA and UVB filters to protect against the sun’s rays which can cause aging and burning. If you’re actively working to fade dark spots but you’re not wearing SPF daily, you’re negating all the work that you do with your skin care routine because you're exposing your unprotected skin to the sun.
Photographer: Stephanie Price
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