If you get small or medium-sized flat, dark markings on your skin, they might be sun spots (solar lentigines). These are basically collections of pigment that often start to appear after you’ve been exposed to ultraviolet light. Because your hands and face are often the parts of your body that get the most sun, you may see them there first, but they get more noticeable with age. Before you do anything else, though, check with a doctor to make sure your sun spots aren’t cancerous moles.
At-Home Remedies for Sunspots
Trade your regular facial cleanser for an exfoliating cleanser. These often have salicylic or glycolic acids to remove dead skin cells with excess pigment. Add a brightening serum or vitamin C to your skincare routine, which will help smooth your skin so that it reflects light more evenly. A serum might also contain melanin inhibitors, antioxidants to prevent discoloration, and exfoliating ingredients. Look for products with kojic acid, alpha-arbutin, licorice extract, and vitamin C – a combination can be more potent. Also, use retinol to target hyperpigmentation and speed skin cell turnover.
Prescription Medication for Sunspots
A doctor can prescribe skin solutions that are stronger than anything you can get over the counter. These may include hydroquinone, which halts the production of melanin and inhibits tyrosinase, the enzyme that controls melanin production. This is a powerful product, and not suited to certain skin types, so it’s best to use it under the direction of a doctor. It is also important to know that you cannot stay on hydroquinone for extended periods of time.
After completing a 6 month treatment plan with hydroquinone it is recommended to move to a maintenance plan which would include the use of products with kojic acid, alpha-arbutin, licorice extract and vitamin C. Some can experience a rebound effect after stopping the use of hydroquinone, where you may notice your pigment return.
Remember that hydroquinone suppresses the melanin and when you stop use the melanin can surface again, that is why it’s important to begin using maintenance products as soon as you stop using hydroquinone.
We compound our own WIFH Reluminate Pads with 4%, 6% and 8% hydroquinone (60 day supply). The liquid mixture is poured over dry pads making application simple an easy. The liquid is also absorbed faster than other prescribed hydroquinone creams.
Microdermabrasion and Chemical Peels
If your sun spots resist other at-home methods, you may wish to look at professional procedures. Microdermabrasions help exfoliate and remove the superficial layer of dry and dead skin cells. With a series of treatments it can help remove some of the pigments lesions, but it also allows lightening products and treatments to penetrate deeper and better.
Basically, a peel consists of a chemical solution being applied to the skin, to destroy the buildup of dead skin cells on the surface, reveal the new skin underneath, and stimulate collagen production. By removing the skin you are lifting the pigmented areas as well. Again, by removing dead skin it will allow your at-home brightening products to work better too.
Laser Skin Resurfacing
Using a laser to rejuvenate your skin can improve skin tone and texture, and is quite effective in reversing sun spot damage. There are two different types.
The first is ablative, which requires a little recovery time and uses micro-fractional carbon dioxide laser to destroy the upper layers of skin to reveal dramatic results.
The second option is non-ablative laser resurfacing which requires no downtime; the laser energy is absorbed so deeply that it leaves the surface skin intact, but stimulates the body’s natural healing response to contract the skin for better tone and texture.
It also stimulates collagen and elastin production which are the building blocks to skin tissue to further the rejuvenative process. The non-ablative laser skin resurfacing option such as Affirm does require a series of treatments for best results.
But don’t forget – you still need to protect your skin from the sun. If your sun exposure has resulted in sun spots, invest in a stronger sunblock to make sure the pigmentation on your skin does not become larger and darker over time. A hat is also recommended when you are going to be outside.