A dark shadow above your upper lip is unsightly and embarrassing. Whether it's the result of a hormone change, sun exposure or hair removal practices, the goal is the same: get rid of the shadow for a smoother, more even appearance. If after your apply over-the-counter remedies to your skin, and the dark areas above your lip remain, you may need the help of a dermatologist to correct the skin problem.
Apply a good quality sunscreen of SPF 30 or above to help lighten your darkened skin. Your dark shadow may be caused by melasma, the clinical term for the darkening of the upper lip, usually due to hormone changes in the body. Unfortunately, the sun can exacerbate melasma symptoms so the shadow is darker, so protecting yourself from UVA and UVB rays will help diminish dark pigmentation.
Wax your upper lip hair. Swap shaving for waxing if your dark shadows are the result of stubble. When you shave hair, it cuts the hair bluntly for short-term results. When the hair grows back, it often looks darker and thicker because of the blunt end. Waxing pulls hair from the root, notes KidsHealth.org, a division of the Nemours Foundation. This makes for longer lasting results, finer regrowth and less of a shadow over your upper lip.
Make an exfoliating scrub by mixing 1 cup of brown sugar with 3 tbsp. olive oil. Apply the scrub to the skin above your lip, rubbing in circular motions for up to a minute before rinsing it away with cool water. This will slough away dead skin cells that could be clogging pores.
Talk to your dermatologist about treatment options. For some, a cream or ointment containing tretinoin, kojic acid and azelaic acid can help to fade the dark pigmentation, notes Medline Plus. Your dermatologist may also prescribe hydroquinone cream, which effectively bleaches the skin so the shadow is less noticeable.
Take a pregnancy test. Melasma often plagues women when they are pregnant. If your dark shadow is pregnancy-induced melasma, the dark shadow will likely go away in the few months following the birth of your baby, without any special treatment or prescriptions.
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If your dark shadow is hormone related, you may be asked to undergo hormone replacement therapy to replenish some of the estrogen in your body, according to Deborah Sarnoff, clinical associate professor of dermatology at New York University Medical Center, in an article on Oprah.com