Is the Sun to Blame for Your Uneven Skin Tone?

Could the Sun be to Blame?

The sun can cause more than temporary sunburn. From cancerous growths to streaky spots, sun damage can wreak havoc on an even, healthy skin tone. Here are some of the main ways too much sun exposure can wreck your complexion.

Uneven Pigment

If you’ve spent time in the sun, you’re familiar with sun-kissed, tan skin. This is caused by melanin, a dark brown pigment that your skin produces to protect itself from sun damage. But sometimes the sun causes an uneven melanin increase, leading to patchy pigmentation. Even worse? Sun exposure can result in red blotches caused from stretched blood vessels.

Solar Lentigines

Brown, black, or gray non-raised spots are known as solar lentigines, or more commonly, age spots and liver spots. You might think of them in conjunction with seniors, but they can also occur in young people who have spent ample time in the sun with no UV protection.

Labial Lentigo

A dark brown spot on the lip is referred to as labial lentigo. It’s the result of repeated sun exposure and mostly appears as a solo spot on the bottom lip.

smiling woman in summer clothes

Solar Elastosis

Collagen and elastin are two fibers that work to keep your skin supple and smooth. When these connective tissues are exposed to UV radiation, they begin to break down. The result is deep wrinkles and creases with loose or sagging skin.


Brown discoloration on the face is known as melasma. Sun exposure is one likely contributing factor, but others include female hormones estrogen and progesterone. It often occurs on those with dark complexions on the cheeks and forehead. In some cases, melasma fades after women stop taking oral contraceptives or hormone therapy, and after they give birth.

Lentigo Maligna

This is a growth that often develops on areas such as the face, hands, or legs. It starts as a flat dark spot that gradually darkens and grows. Lentigo maligna can evolve into melanoma.

Actinic Keratoses

If you develop rough, scaly patches on your skin, it could be actinic keratoses. The white, tan, dark pink, or brown patches commonly occur on light-skinned people with sun damage. Untreated, it can progress to squamous cell carcinoma.

Source: The Mayo Clinic

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