Medically reviewed by Minimalist Health Specialist - Written by Rithi Choudhary (Journalist) on 09th Jan 2021
How To Treat Dark Knees And Elbows
So many things in life are uneven, but your skin does not need to be. Dark knees and elbows are a cosmetic concern among several people except for genetically blessed supermodels. But guess what, even if you believe you didn’t win the gene pool for flawless skin, you're still lucky for having stumbled across this article. Bid farewell to dark patches on your knees and your elbows because we have the best and effective ways curated for you to erase them. Read on to find out how.
To address any problem, we must get to its root first. If your skin on the knees and elbows is several shades darker than your overall skin tone, then it is most certainly hyperpigmentation.
But what is hyperpigmentation, and why do you get it?
Hyperpigmentation is a skin condition where excess melanin is produced in some patches of the skin. As a result, the affected area appears darker than the rest of the skin. This is a primary cosmetic concern among people, so even though it does not physically affect the body, it needs to be treated.
But why does melanin production gets triggered, which leads to hyperpigmentation?
Let us start from scratch. Melanin is the natural pigment that gives our skin, hair, and eyes their respective color. The melanin pigment present in the skin determines the skin tone - light or dark. While lighter skin has less melanin, darker skin has more melanin. When exposed to sunlight, the melanocytes (cells where melanin is produced) make more melanin defense against the damaging UV rays.
That is why people of color often get a suntan when exposed to the sun for a long time. White skin is more likely to get a sunburn than a suntan because of very little melanin in their skin. Now melanin production can be triggered by other factors such as - after an injury (post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation), hormonal imbalances, aging, etc.
Why is the skin on knees and elbows particularly affected?
The skin on the elbows and knees is thicker than the skin on the rest of the face and, therefore, prone to dryness and accumulation of dead skin cells.
They also have many folds and creases, making it easier for dirt and grime to get trapped and appear darker.
These areas (the knees and elbows) go through a lot of friction in our day-to-day lives (leaning on our elbows, kneeling, etc.), which further accelerates melanin production in these areas as a form of defense mechanism to protect the skin.
Moreover, when going out in the sun, these areas are often ignored and not given enough protection in the form of sunblock or sunscreen.
How to get rid of dark patches on knees and elbows?
The obvious solutions are to reduce friction in these areas, protect these areas and the rest of the bare skin from sun exposure, and exfoliate with the right ingredients that shed dead skin cells, and even reduces excess production of melanin. Do not worry, as we have curated a list of the best and safe skin lightening ingredients to treat your hyperpigmentation.
Vitamin C, also known as Ascorbic Acid, does not need any introduction. Not only does it lighten and brighten the skin by reducing the production of melanin by inhibiting the activation of tyrosinase (the enzyme needed for the synthesis of melanin), it being a powerful antioxidant reverses the damage done on skin cells by free radicals. This helps in rejuvenating the skin, boosting collagen production, and keeping the skin looking young.
But at this point, we must tell you that Vitamin C is a tricky ingredient to work with. It oxidizes quickly when exposed to bright light and higher temperatures. Hence it should always be stored in a cool and dark place. Secondly, the type of Vitamin C derivative used in a formulation plays an important role in delivering the promised results.
Pure Vitamin C or Ascorbic Acid is extremely unstable, and therefore it is not soluble in water. This is why Minimalist Vitamin C serum uses a very stable form of Vitamin C derivative called Ethyl Ascorbic Acid with 86% Vitamin C content, which is way higher than the typical 40-50% Vitamin C content present in other Vitamin C derivatives.
Also, since Vitamin C reduces melanin production and promotes cell turnover ratio, it is important to never skip the sunscreen as the newly revealed cells are vulnerable and susceptible to sunburn.
Lactic Acid is naturally produced when milk that contains lactose sugar curdles, and the lactose sugar is acted upon by bacteria and converted into lactic acid. Chemically speaking, lactic acid belongs to Alpha Hydroxy Acids, which effectively solves skin exfoliation and promotes cellular turnover.
Lactic acid is the mildest AHA and is tolerated well by even sensitive skin if used in the right concentration. The small size of its molecules can penetrate deep into the skin and break the bond between dead skin cells, thereby helping the skin shed them.
Lactic acid has also been studied as a tyrosinase inhibitor; that is, it affects melanin production. Apart from its exfoliating properties, it is the only AHA that hydrates the skin simultaneously and promotes collagen production, according to studies.
Kojic Acid is obtained from various fungi, including mushrooms, fermented foods like soya sauce, and rice wine. It acts as a mild skin bleach and helps in lightening dark patches without irritating the skin, unlike more potent ingredients like Hydroquinone, making it suitable even for sensitive skin.
Kojic Acid helps in fading hyperpigmentation by inhibiting tyrosinase activity, an enzyme responsible for melanin production. Kojic Acid is also a powerful antioxidant, and therefore, it helps repair the skin from the effects of free radicals.
But raw Kojic Acid is extremely unstable, and this is why Minimalist Kojic Acid 2% + Alpha Arbutin 1% serum uses a stable kojic acid ester - kojic dipalmitate that has been clinically proven to be one of the best antioxidants that help protect from UV damage and neutralize free radicals.
To avoid the side effects of dermatitis or any other kind of skin irritation, it is recommended to use a concentration of 2% or less. According to studies, treating hyperpigmentation with a combination of KA and Glycolic Acid might be a far better option than Hydroquinone.
Arbutin is the naturally occurring skin bleaching ingredient derived from bearberry, mulberry, blueberry, cranberry, wheat, and some pears varieties.
But arbutin in its raw form is not very effective and stable, which is why Minimalist Alpha Arbutin 2% serum uses Arbutin in its stable form - Alpha Arbutin, which is glycosylated Hydroquinone, a pure water-soluble, biosynthetic active ingredient.
Arbutin is considered a natural alternative to Hydroquinone, a widely used skin lightening ingredient. The hydroquinone group allows Arbutin to act as an inhibitor of tyrosinase and directly inhibit melanin production, resulting in brighter, blemish-free skin.
All skin types can try Alpha Arbutin, as it mostly suits all. It can mildly lighten pigmentation and is suitable for all skin tones. Pair it with Vitamin C or an AHA to get the best results. However, some studies have shown that arbutin is less effective than kojic acid when treating hyperpigmentation.