Illustrated by Refinery29.
When it comes to imperfections on our face, our dislike for 'em doesn't change depending on the spot — a mark is a mark. Similarly, when we cover one up with concealer and foundation, we use basically the same technique, regardless of a spot's origin. But, it turns out, when we're actually treating those marks, their differences are incredibly important.
"Not all brown spots are created equal," says aesthetician Deanna Stellato, director of aesthetics at the Geldner Center. "For example, acne marks are the result of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, which happens when the pimple is picked at (or even sometimes left alone) and white blood cells rush to the infected area to protect it." The pigmentation follows the white blood cells, leaving a lasting visible spot. Sunspots, though they can look similar, are a different story: These actually happen when the sun stimulates melanin production. In short, Stellato says, "Acne spots are created from the inside out, and sunspots are created from the outside in."
So, it makes sense that the method of getting rid of them would be very different. Since sunspots are close to the surface of the skin, Stellato says they're much easier to eliminate and can be treated by a professional with light therapy or chemical peels. She notes, however, that "acne spots are more difficult to treat since they're not just on the skin’s surface. Most of the time they do heal on their own, but that can take a while." Stellato recommends topical bleaching and retinol products to help that process.
That answers that question. Though they're similarly annoying, these marks need different kinds of attention. Our concealer, though, will continue to be an equal-opportunity product.
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