What Causes Uneven Skin Tone?

Skin is the largest organ and, of course, the one that everyone sees. If you have uneven skin tone, this may make you self-conscious or, on the other hand, it might not bother you at all.

What Causes Uneven Skin Tone?

However, if it does, protect your skin from the sun at all costs and learn how to treat dark or white spots that may appear on occasion.


Everyone has pigment in their skin. A darker person has more pigment, or melanin, than a fair skinned person. According to Nutra Legacy, the upper layer of the skin, which is called the epidermis, is where melanin is produced by cells that are in the epidermis. A chemical, melanin is responsible for changing the tone of an individual's skin. Skin color is genetically determined. Genes tell cells how much melanin to release. UV rays from the sun also tell these cells to release more melanin in the areas that are exposed to the sun.

Skin Pigmentation Disorders

The two main types of skin pigmentation disorders that result in uneven skin tone, include hyper-pigmentation, where too much melanin is produced, and hypo-pigmentation, when not enough melanin is produced.


If you have a condition called melasma, which is an outcome of hyper-pigmentation, you may have brown or tan splotches on your skin. Sometimes when women are pregnant this occurs and it is referred to as the "mask of pregnancy." It can happen to men, too. Using a prescription cream will help fade these dark spots.


Another condition called vitiligo, which Michael Jackson reportedly had, is an outcome of hypo-pigmentation. When this occurs, white patches appear on the skin. It is believed that this happens because the immune system is attacking the melanin-producing cells. According to the Antivitiligo site, Anti-Vitiligo Oil, which is reportedly a natural herbal recipe, is used to treat vitiligo and other conditions that come about due to hypo-pigmentation. This is an external treatment.

The Mayo Clinic notes that there are various treatments for vitiligo, including topical corticosteroid therapy, topical psoralen plus ultraviolet A (PUVA), topical immunomodulators, oral psoralen photochemotherapy, depigmentation and narrowband ultraviolet B (UVB) therapy, as well as surgical procedures, including autologous skin grafts, tattooing (micropigmentation) and blister grafting. One new option, according to the Mayo Clinic, is autologous melanocyte transplant, where a sample of an individual's normal skin is used to grow melanocytes in a lab. The new melanocytes are transplanted onto the areas of the body where pigment is lacking. Another new treatment involves using a compound found in black pepper that is called piperine. Used in combination with UV light, piperine appears to result in re-pigmentation of the skin.

Age Spots

Age spots can cause an uneven skin tone. These spots are caused, primarily, by sun exposure. Melanocytes, which are skin cells, are prompted to appear after years of sun exposure. Melanin production ramps up and older people often develop what is referred to as liver spots. However, age spots can appear even if you aren't old. These spots are areas where pigment has collected. An age spot can also occur if a bruise occurs and blood pigment is left to pool in a specific area. Those with freckles are at a higher risk of developing age spots than those who don't have them.


Patches of skin that have the most melanin in them are apt to get darker if they are not exfoliated on a regular basis and that is when the uneven skin tone appears according to the 30 Glycolic site. When you exfoliate, the cells that come into contact with the sun, which are the surface cells, will help even out your skin tone.

Oily Skin

If you have oily skin, you may be at a greater risk of having uneven skin tone because oily skin produces very little of the cellular binding material called sebum. As a result, dead skin cells will stick to the skin's surface for longer than they should and solidify. If an individual does not exfoliate, these patches of darker skin on the surface of the skin can actually crack. It this continues, these cracks can travel farther into the dermis, which causes permanent scarring. Consult with a dermatologist about the best approach to uneven skin tone. Some may recommend using a glycolic acid to exfoliate. Wearing sunscreen and keeping your skin clean are also crucial.