A Comprehensive Guide to How Skin Colour Transforms Over Time

How often have you looked into the mirror and wondered, "Have I gone a shade darker?" Well, someone who has hit middle age or older may have encountered various issues with skin pigmentation, but the reasons seem to be unanswered. So, does skin colour change with age? To help you get your answer, here's to welcoming you to this post.

Scaly patches might be apparent in areas like the chest, neck, shoulders, and forearms. These alterations might seem disturbing, but they can dent your confidence and lower your self-esteem. So, why does skin pigmentation occur? Let's find out.

Understanding skin pigmentation – why does it occur?

So, how does ageing impact your skin colour? Before you learn anything on this front, it is imperative to understand your skin mechanism. Your skin's prime pigment is melanin. It is produced by melanocytes that are situated in the epidermis. 

Notably, melanin is the natural pigment that can protect your skin from the harmful rays of the sun. It determines skin colour. There are two main types of melanin present in the skin. They are eumelanin as well as pheomelanin. Eumelanin is the brownish-black pigment that results in darker skin tones. 

It offers the most protection against the ultraviolet rays. On the other hand, pheomelanin is the reddish-yellow pigment present in people with a lighter skin complexion. It offers less protection against the ultraviolet rays of the sun. 

Does skin colour change with age?

So, how does skin colour change with age? With ageing, different changes occur in your body. That might be the changes in the production of melanin pigments. Such changes may have an impact on the differences in skin colour and pigmentation. The following are the common reasons why ageing changes your complexion:

Exposure to the sun 

Excessive and prolonged exposure to the ultraviolet rays radiation of the sun is a prime reason behind changes in skin pigmentation. Note that ultraviolet rays can damage melanocytes and result in the overproduction of melanin. On the other hand, it may reduce melanocytes in other skin areas, resulting in hypopigmentation.

Changes in the hormones

Hormonal fluctuations (especially during pregnancy or menopause)  may disrupt the process of how melanin is usually produced. It may result in hyperpigmentation.

Environmental parameters

Another reason for skin issues is environmental pollutants. Amidst the hectic schedule, smoke, dirt and toxins can also influence skin pigmentation over time. These external factors may trigger inflammation as well as oxidative stress. At the same time, it may negatively impact melanocyte function and production.

In fact, certain medications like antibiotics and other anti-seizure drugs may result in changes in skin pigmentation. Besides, certain lifestyle parameters also result in skin pigmentation changes like diet, smoking, and stress levels. 

Types of skin pigmentation resulting from age-related aspects

So, how does skin colour change with age? Here are a few types of skin pigmentation that result from ageing:

Age spots or uneven pigmentation 

Age spots, also known as liver spots or solar lentigines, are one of the most visible changes in skin pigmentation that occur with age. These are flat and brown spots occurring clusters of melanocytes and are exposed to prolonged ultraviolet rays of the sun. With ageing, melanocytes become active and produce additional melanin. This results in hyperpigmented spots. They are usually found on body parts receiving sun exposure. You can find these spots occurring when ageing in areas like arms, face, and hands.

Changes in skin tone 

Aside from age spots, many people see an overall change in their complexion as they age. Many people's complexion seems more yellow or sallow. On the other hand, you may notice an ashen or greying tone. These changes are frequently linked to a mix of reasons, like decreasing blood circulation and skin thinning. In addition, it may also result in the skin's capacity to regenerate. As a result, the skin might seem less bright and smooth with an uneven or dull complexion.

Hypopigmentation or skin-lightening 

Lightening skin or fading out may occur in specific regions of your body. This may happen when the melanocyte reduces, resulting in lowered production of melanin. Other aspects that may result in skin-lightening issues include hormonal changes and other medications.


It's worth noting that the amount and form of age-related skin colour changes can differ greatly between people and ethnic groups. Individuals with darker skin tones typically suffer more significant pigmentation changes with age, like a change in appearance or uneven pigmentation.

Those with lighter skin tones may notice more subtle changes, such as a faint yellowing or greying of the skin. Furthermore, genetics, lifestyle, and environmental exposure can all impact the extent and pattern of skin color changes over time. So, the next time someone asks how does skin colour changes with age, you already know the answer.


1. Why do age spots or "liver spots" develop on the skin?

Age spots, also known as solar lentigines or liver spots, are flat brown spots that occur due to clusters of overactive melanocytes (pigment-producing cells). These spots commonly appear on sun-exposed areas like the face, hands, and arms. Their development is primarily caused by prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun over many years, leading to excess melanin production in concentrated areas.

2. Is it normal for skin colour to change as you age?

Of course, it is quite common for skin colour to change with age. These changes may occur due to various factors. A few of them include sun exposure and hormonal fluctuations. Even reduced melanocyte production and other medical conditions result in skin colour changes. 

3. What can be done to manage or minimise age-related skin colour changes?

There are several steps that can help manage or minimise age-related skin colour changes. Adopting a consistent skincare routine with gentle exfoliation, broad-spectrum sunscreen, and brightening agents can help even out skin tone. Professional treatments like chemical peels, laser therapies, or topical creams containing hydroquinone or retinoids may also be effective for reducing pigmentation irregularities. Additionally, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet, regular exercise, and stress management, can contribute to overall skin health.

4. Is there a difference in how skin colour changes with age among different ethnicities?

Yes, there can be variations in the extent and nature of age-related skin colour changes among different ethnic groups. Generally, individuals with darker skin tones tend to experience more pronounced pigmentation changes, such as the development of age spots and uneven pigmentation. Those with lighter skin tones may notice more subtle changes, like a slight yellowing or greying of the skin. Genetics and melanin levels play a role in these differences.

5. Can hormonal changes affect skin colour as we age?

Hormonal changes, particularly those associated with pregnancy, menopause, or certain medical conditions, can indeed influence skin colour and pigmentation patterns. Fluctuations in hormones like oestrogen and progesterone can disrupt the normal production and distribution of melanin, the pigment responsible for skin colour. This can result in hyperpigmentation (darkening) or hypopigmentation (lightening) of the skin in various areas.


Zandu Ayurvedic Team

Zandu Ayurvedic Team has a panel of over 10 BAMS (Ayurvedacharya), boasting a collective experience of over 50 years. With a deep-rooted understanding of Ayurveda, they are committed to sharing their expertise & knowledge through our blogs.
We use all kinds of Ayurvedic references in our content. Please use the contact form for any editorial queries.

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