Age spots on the skin really darken up from summer sun exposure. They tan better than normal skin and really stand out, even after the briefest sun exposure. There are three things I tell my patients to help prevent age spots (also called solar lentigo) from darkening during the summer. People who do all three get the best results.
3 Easy Steps You Can Take to Help Prevent Age Spots:
- Keep the sun from penetrating your skin.
- Exfoliate regularly.
- Use skin lightening products to 'turn down' your skin's ability to add melanin tan to the age spots.
Step 1: The best way to keep the sun from penetrating your skin to prevent the darkening of age spot.
The best way to keep the sun off of your age spots is by covering them with UPF 50+ clothing. For areas of your skin that you can’t cover (e.g. your face), wear an SPF 30+ broad spectrum sunscreen that contains 5% or more zinc oxide. Click here to see the sunscreens and accessories I trust and recommend to help prevent age spots and sun damage. My favorite sunscreen for age spots is my Sheer Strength Pure Physical Spray!
Step 2: Exfoliate to lighten age spots.
Exfoliating lightens your age spots because the dead skin cell layers above them are extra thick. The brown color in an age spot (sun spot) is carried up through every dead cell layer. I like to think of age spots like little speed bumps on your skin. When you exfoliate, the dead skin on the age spots gets worn down the fastest because the age spots sit higher than the rest of your skin. This really lightens up the dark color. The best way to exfoliate age spots is with my Ultra-fast Body Smoothing Triple Action Kit. This kit includes products for physical exfoliation along with a strong AHA and BHA exfoliation. There is nothing more effective!
Over the years, I've had many thousands of patients use this kit. It works beautifully to lighten age spots. I've used the same process for over 30+ years for my own skin (now 61 at the time of my most recent update of this article), and have watched my age spots actually go away. I created the first version of this particular kit for my 40th birthday when I got my first age spot on my arm and decided to take strong and deliberate action. The unwanted spot went away in a few months after using my new kit, which was a great 'happy birthday to me' from my dermatologist self!
Step 3: Add skin pigment lightening ingredients in your skin care routine to fade age spots.
I also have my patients ‘turn down’ pigment production with ingredients that turn down melanin production in the skin. The best ingredient is hydroquinone. It is available without prescription up to 2% concentration. We combine this with botanical ingredients that also turn down melanin synthesis in the skin in my Pigment Fading Pads. These pads contain the best ingredients to lighten age spot color.
The good news about age spots is that it really is possible to get through the sunny weather without getting spottier and spottier. Using any one of these steps to prevent age spot darkening will help, and doing all three is even more effective. You might even see them get lighter and lighter even when you are outside enjoying the sun!Cynthia Bailey, MD, Board Certified Dermatologist
A final note on age spots:
Remember that not every brown spot is an age spot. Melanoma, a deadly cancer, can often start looking like one of your age spots. If you have age spots, you've probably also had a lot of sun exposure in your life and would be well served by getting an annual skin exam by your dermatologist. Early detection of skin cancer really does save lives, I see it every day.
Photo Mik Hartwell Flickr