updated 21 Jun 2013, 11:29
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Fri, Feb 24, 2012
Philippine Daily Inquirer/Asia News Network
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Get smooth, even complexion in a few easy steps
by Kelly Misa

Hi Kelly. I'm your follower on Twitter and I need your suggestion. I have uneven skin tone: My T-zone is yellowish and I've tried some products, but they didn't work. Since I just turned 20, I don't want to use makeup when I don't really need it. Can you recommend effective (but not expensive) products that will even out my complexion? Also, for my body, half of my arms and legs are fair but the exposed parts are darker. I've been struggling with this problem for a long time now. I am hoping you can help me.

-Yna Hernandez

Resolving uneven skin tone does not happen overnight. It usually takes weeks of meticulous product application, or if you want faster results, a pricey package of treatments from your dermatologist. Without a doubt, getting results requires patience and dedication on your part, but not without considering your lifestyle, too.

It may seem harmless to go out of your house bare-faced, running errands or going to school or work with the sun constantly hitting your face, but that's where the problem most likely begins.

One of the major stimulators of pigmentation is sunlight. You see, our skin produces melanin as a way for our body to protect itself from harmful UV light. And over time, constant sun exposure can cause considerable damage to the pigment cells that lead to sunspots and uneven skin.

Finding a way to include sun protection into your daily skincare routine will help prevent uneven complexion from worsening.

Your basic broad-spectrum SPF 30 (or higher) is your daily shield against sun damage. The trick to wearing it everyday is to find a formula that is non-sticky, goes on clear and isn't thick or hot to wear.

Lately, we've seen a new range of this kind that is very different from the ones you use when at the beach. These can be sheer, spray-on sunscreen or light and watery ones that glide on smoothly.

Once you've made it a habit to apply sunscreen, you'll find that pigmentation will be in check and you can start to focus on treatment options for your uneven complexion. Below is a mini-list of things you can do to get a smoother, more consistent tone.

Exfoliate. I can't tell you enough how important exfoliating is when you want to regulate your skin's cycle. Skin renewal happens on an average of 28 days but can slow down with age.

Exfoliating every three to five days will slough away dead skin cells and remove built-up layers of sun-damaged skin. For your face, using a scrub, buffing brush or sponge will help, just as long as they are not overly abrasive.

(Tip: if your skin has developed redness or is too raw or squeaky clean, you're overdoing it.)

Look for exfoliating products with skin-lightening Vitamin C and cell-renewing lactic acid or alpha hydroxy acid.

Use a brightening moisturizer. Aside from nourishing skin, these are targeted to even out your complexion using its lightening properties. Unlike some whiteners that contain skin-bleaching ingredients, brightening products work on erasing dark spots and giving skin a natural radiance.

This means your skin won't necessarily look whiter after a few weeks of use, but develop an overall even color. Finding the brightening product in a moisturizing form will ensure skin stays soft and supple as you use it. To get a consistent tone for your body, make sure to use sunscreen on exposed parts daily and apply a skin lightening lotion at night.

If you have the budget, try a laser-resurfacing treatment. Skincare innovations of late include treatments that improve skin's tone and consistency with the painless blast of a laser. Many dermatologists can recommend this option if you're looking for quicker results. These are usually offered in a package deal of five to 10 sessions, depending on what your skin needs.

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