While we may be tempted to worship the sun, overexposure to ultraviolet rays can lead to sunspots and skin damage. The problem is that many existing treatments for these conditions peel or bleach the skin, making it more vulnerable. Luckily, there are also nourishing natural remedies to help combat sun-related inflammation.
A natural healer
These natural remedies diminish discoloration not by exfoliating, but through repair and restoration. Rosehip oil in particular has been found to be exceptionally effective in healing damaged complexions and darkened spots. This oil is packed with antioxidants and rejuvenating acids that not only treat pigmented lesions and texture, but also bolster the skin’s immunity, preventing future skin damage.
Damaging skin lightening treatments
One of the most common concerns of sun damage is pigmentation. This can appear as freckles, dark spots or large patches of discoloration. Most treatments today involve bleaching or resurfacing the skin, but unfortunately this can be counterproductive. These methods can strip our complexions and lead to increased sensitivity, broken capillaries, inflamed acne or facial bruising. Chemical peels in particular exfoliate darkened skin cells but can thin the skin’s tissue, making it more susceptible to damage.
Bleaches and lightening agents also have concerning implications for our skin and bodies. The melanogenesis inhibitor hydroquinone is one of the most common and effective active ingredients included in pigmentation treatment products, and is also a substance found in paint varnishes, photographic developer, motor fuel and cigarette smoke.
Studies have shown that this inhibitor can cause DNA damage and has also been found to lead to depigmentation and create new pigmented spots, worsening the conditions it is used to treat. For these reasons, hydroquinone has been prohibited in cosmetics in Australia and the EU, while the US Food and Drug Administration currently allows over-the-counter formulations of up to 1.5 to 2 per cent. In Canada, formulations of up to 4 per cent hydroquinone are still available from the pharmacist without a prescription.
In addition to being potentially harmful to the skin and body, peels and lightening creams can also hinder the skin’s healing process, as they tend to be dehydrating when applied topically. Skin damage and wounds have been known to heal faster and more effectively when moisture balance is obtained, so dehydrating products are not ideal for skin regeneration.
Hydration supports collagen production and cellular growth while facilitating the production of proteins in the skin. Since making moist, balanced skin is critical for tissue regeneration, protective skin care and rich oils are excellent for treating scars and marks, as they lock in moisture that allows skin to renew.
Rosehip to the rescue
Studies have shown that rosehip oil is excellent for fading pigmentation and regenerating the skin. Derived from the seeds of the rosehip fruit, this oil is concentrated with fatty acids, including omega-6 and -9, which deeply moisturise and help to rejuvenate damaged complexions. It is also packed with powerful antioxidants vitamin C, lycopene and provitamin A that treat free-radical damage and diminish discoloration.
Rosehip oil is an excellent natural alternative to conventional lightening products, as it heals sun damage and pigmentation without compromising our skin’s health. Instead, it restores tissue and treats sunspots by supporting it with replenishing nutrients.
The rosehip regimen
Rosehip oil is easily incorporated into our skin care regimen. It can be used day and night after cleansing as a natural moisturiser and is safe for all skin types. However, the rejuvenating properties of rosehip can stimulate acne-prone skin to break out, so blemished complexions should only apply rosehip oil on alternating nights, or as a spot treatment on acne scars.
When choosing rosehip oil, it is important to find one that is undiluted by chemicals or synthetics. This can be determined by examining its colour and scent. Pure rosehip oil is bright orange and has an earthy smell, reminiscent of coffee beans.
The manufacturing process of this oil is also critical, and while many sources use hexane, a petroleum-derived chemical solvent, to extract it, the best quality rosehip oil is cold-pressed or produced using supercritical CO2. Check labels for information on how it is derived, or inquire with the manufacturer if this information is missing. Ethical companies that make high quality, authentic rosehip oil will be transparent about their manufacturing methods.
While rosehip treats sun damage and sunspots, it is also used for many other beauty ailments such as
- conditioning dry, damaged hair
- diminishing stretch marks
- fading acne and surgical scars
- nourishing weak and brittle nails
- softening fine lines
- preventing premature ageing