You had a great vacation on a beautiful beach in the Caribbean. You put on sunscreen … sometimes.
A few weeks later, you notice some dark spots on your face. Where did they come from! What could they be?
Sorry, but they could well be ‘age spots’!
What Are Age Spots?
Age spots are small flat dark spots on your skin. They are round, brown or black, with a well-defined margin. And are normally found on your face, arms, back of your hands and shoulders.
They are known by various other names too including liver spots, brown spots or sun spots – there’s a good reason for that last one!
They also have a technical sciencey name of ‘solar lentigo’ – which sounds almost nice 🙂
(If you need more detail about various dark skin blemishes you can also read what causes hyperpigmentation?)
How Do You Get Age Spots?
Age spots occur when the outer layer of the skin expands with extra pigment, developing into what is effectively a ‘large freckle’. They are part of the normal aging process. Thus, they tend to occur more often in those over the age of 50.
However, sun exposure over time is the major cause of these spots. Hence why they seem to pop up more regularly as we get older. But younger people who spend a lot of time in the sun will tend to have them earlier in life.
Can You Do Anything To Get Rid Of Or Remove Them?
The good news is YES. There are some options you can use to try and get rid of them. Your ideal age spot solution could be any one of these:
- Dermabrasion: This is the surgical sanding of the top layer of skin. It can be a very expensive procedure, ranging from several hundred to several thousand dollars. The recovery time is minimal as there is very little pain and swelling. This is suitable for removing age spots from your face and hands.
- Chemical peels: In this process, a chemical solution is used to remove the top layer of skin. The recovery is not as simple as that of a dermabrasion. This is because you will experience a reaction quite like a sunburn. In addition, you will need to wear bandages on the treated area for many days.
- Laser resurfacing: In this process, a laser is used to remove the top layer of skin. This will cost you $1750 to $2300. When you are recovering, you will wear bandages. You will also need to clean the treated area 1 day after treatment, and then 4 to 5 times a day after that. After, you will need to apply petroleum jelly to prevent scabs from forming.
- Cryosurgery: A freezing agent such as liquid nitrogen is used to freeze and peel the age spots away from the body. You will fork out $500 to $900.
- Topical treatments: Here, a prescription cream is applied to the skin. The most common topical creams for age spots are hydroquinone (a bleaching cream) and tretinoin (an acne cream). Though more natural alternatives are now available. With topical creams, age spots fade over time. As a result, you need to allow the cream a couple of months for the full effects to be seen. Typical cost will be around $50 to $200. A little goes a long way though when only treating very small areas like brown spots.
What’s The Best Age Spot Remover?
Unfortunately, prevention is the absolute best treatment. Sorry — but at least you know now!
Dark spots are caused by sun damage – if you avoid the damage in the first place you won’t get anywhere near as many.
Probably the next best option in terms of being lower cost, but still effective in a reasonable time, is to use a topical lightening cream (such as one of these). You need to be diligent in applying it though, and patient for results. Nothing is going to remove them overnight!
Other salon or skin specialist based treatments can defnitely get results faster, but the price does increase quite dramatically. If patience is not your virtue, then this is your option 🙂
Are There Any Cheaper Ways?
So, the bad news is that beauty can be expensive — who knew! 🙂
But are there cheaper ways to get rid of age spots? The answer is a resounding “hmm, maybe”. There are various items in your pantry that you can apply on your skin that may help reduce the visibility of age spots.
The results vary a lot from person to person, so you may have some luck with these — or none at all!
So here are some options you can try if you’re looking for a near zero budget solution. Just be careful as although natural some of these ingredients can still be very strong and/or acidic.
Also be very careful anywhere near your eyes, and be extra careful if you have sensitive skin. Obviously always stop any treatment immediately if you get any adverse reactions! And seek professional advice if need be.
1. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar naturally contains alpha hydroxy acids (substances that lighten age spots). The same type of ingredient found in some expensive anti-aging creams. So there is some sense to this, but be careful as it is very acidic.
Lemons may be one of the best home remedies for fading age spots. They contain citric acid which removes dead skin cells, to reveal the lower layers of the skin. Its action is similar to some medical procedures for the treatment of age spots. Lemons also contain vitamin C, a natural skin lightener.
A note of caution: Do not go in the sun immediately after you apply lemons. They can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight and cause the age spot to get even darker. Also, if you have sensitive skin, be aware that lemons can be a strong irritant – the juice is very acidic.
Onions contain acids that help to remove dead skin layers from the skin, revealing new skin. Onions also contain vitamin C, a natural skin lightener. Vitamin C can lighten age spots, helping them to fade. Onions may be a good alternative if you find lemons too irritating.
Papaya contains alpha hydroxy acids and certain enzymes that can help remove dead skin cells and potentially fade age spots. Papaya can cause allergies. The first time you try it, apply it to a small area of your skin and wait for 24 hours to see if you react to it.
Yogurt contains lactic acid, which may help age spots by removing dead skin. Yogurt also seems to have a minor skin bleaching effect which lightens the affected darker brown areas.
6. Red Currants
Red currants contain antioxidants which help to protect your skin from UV rays, which cause age spots and make existing ones worse. You’re probably better of eating these though than applying them!
Tomatoes are great for age spots as they contain high amounts of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant. Tomatoes also have bleaching properties which may help fade age spots.
Potato juice is acidic, which helps remove dead skin cells. Potato juice also mildly bleaches the skin which may help to lighten age spots somewhat.
OK, My Age Spots Have Faded – What Can I Do To Avoid Getting More?
You can prevent age spots by using sunscreen on a regular basis. And avoiding the sun as much as possible.
It’s that simple. Just don’t forget your hands get as much sun exposure as your face so you need to protect them too.