As we age, so does our skin, and if you’ve spent time in the sun, you probably have a few spots that are a bit darker than others. Some people call them age spots or liver spots, but they really have more to do with sun exposure than anything else. If you have them on your face, chest, hands, or arms, chances are good you’ve spent time in sunny locations, and they’ve developed over the years. With all that said, you probably don’t especially care for them, so let’s explore how they came to be and what you can do about them. And yes, you can do something about them
The Birth of a Brown Spot
Most brown spots, also known as hyperpigmentation, develop over time due to sun exposure. You skin contains cells known as melanocytes that produce pigment when the skin is exposed to sunlight. While a little melanin might be a good thing, your skin doesn’t have an on or off switch, so sometimes extra pigment rises to the surface causing that discoloration. Some skin conditions, like melasma, also cause hyperpigmentation. This one primarily effects women, especially during pregnancy, but it can be triggered by sun exposure, hormones, and even birth control pills.
Tips for Prevention
You’ve likely heard this many times, but it bears repeating. It’s easier to prevent brown spots than to get rid of them. That being said, sunscreen should be your primary line of defense, but it may not be effective enough as is. To ensure that your skin is fully protected, start practicing some better habits. Sport a fashionable wide-brimmed hat when running around on sunny days. It can be both a fashion statement and a skin savior. Next, stake out the shadiest spot at the pool party or picnic. It adds yet another layer of defense against UV damage.
Lighten Dark Spots with These Ingredients
If you’re already dealing with these pesky spots, take heart. There are things you can do to help fade them. Medical-based skincare is a great starting place. L-ascorbic acid, the purest form of vitamin C, works to reduce hyperpigmentation. It also inhibits melanin production, so when used together with sunscreen, it lessens the likelihood of future spots. Other effective ingredients include niacinamide, kojic acid, and arbutin. Ask your dermatologist about prescription strength azelaic acid if you’re battling melasma.
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Whether you’re treating existing dark spots or trying to prevent them all together, remember to apply sunscreen everywhere whenever you’ll be outside. Dark spots don’t just take up residence on your face. They’re very common on the backs of the hands as well (because we wash them frequently and forget to reapply sunscreen). When it comes to your skin, Benjamin Franklin’s advice is spot-on: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Be diligent!
Wishing you good skin days,
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