Let's face it: we humans are vain and so we want to remove age spots whenever the darned things appear. But the truth is that calling those ugly brown spots "age spots" is inaccurate. Instead, what we need to do is fade "dark spots", because they are actually large, sun induced freckles with no relation to age. You can bet that Scarlett O'Hara with her parasols and avoidance of the sun didn't have to concern herself with age spots removal.
So why are they so-often called age spots? It's simply because repeated exposure to the sun causes these flat, rounded, brown areas that usually appear on the back of hands, but also on our face, neck and shoulders. Sun worshippers can get brown spots on their skin as early as their 20's or 30's.
In addition, as we age, our skin has a harder time regenerating from sun damage, unless we are wise enough to learn how to treat our skin naturally.
These spots are also called a liver spot but they seem to have no connection to the liver. I say "seem" because future research may show a connection that isn't obvious at this time.
Regardless of what we want to call them, they're definitely unsightly. So here are some ideas on how to get rid of age spots, and either prevent them from ever forming or not allowing any new ones.
Dark Skin Spots Prevention
#1. Stay out of the sun! Sorry, but the spots on your skin are caused by the sun's ultraviolet rays so if you don't ever get them in the first place, you won't have to wonder how to fade sun spots 20 years (or two years!) from now … cuz you won't have any!
#2. If you simply can't – or won't – avoid the sun then at least limit your hours of exposure. If you really want skin sun spots, then spend time outdoors during peak hours:
10AM – 4PM in the spring summer and fall
10AM – 2PM in the winter
If you're a gardener, or have other outdoor chores, try and avoid these times of day.
#3. If you're invited to an outdoor event that is simply irresistible, then look for shade. An umbrella, a pergola or a shady tree is a terrific alternative to full sun and just might avoid skin spots treatment in your future.
#4. Even if it's hot, wear clothing that is both light-colored and tightly woven. The light color reflects the sun's ray, rather than absorbing it and tightly woven fabric keeps out the sun's dangerous UV rays, unlike loosely woven garments.
#5. If you do go out in the sun, even if it's just to cut the grass, rather than bake in the sun for a sultry tan, use a high quality sunscreen. Frankly, this is a toughie because I've never found a sunscreen I really like since most of them are loaded with chemicals. Still, it's better to wear the chemicals – and wash them off as soon as you get out of the sun – than to overexpose your tender skin.
Another advantage of sunscreens is that you will prevent any more sun spots on your skin and keep the ones you already have from getting darker. Just remember to periodically re-apply your sunscreen since perspiration or water will wash its protection away.
For shorter periods, a sunscreen with an SPF [Sun Protection Factor] of at least 15 is needed.
For a all-day stay on the beach, tennis court or golf course, use at least a 30SPF cream.
And be sure to apply them 15-30 minutes before going outside.
#6. Wear a hat. I usually wear a baseball cap, but it doesn't really protect my ears or neck, so it's actually a pretty lousy choice. Researchers recommend a hat with at least a 4" brim.
Straw hats or hats with a porous or wide-weave fabric don't do the job because the sun can shine right on through. Actually, there are hats made with 'sun protective' fabric inside and if you choose one of these, wide a wide brim, that will be the best protection you can get from a hat or cap.
#7. Remember your lips: it's not impossible to get dark skin spots on your lips. Yuck! Lipstick is a slight protection, but unless it has a high SPF – and some do – it really isn't that much help. And besides, when we're outside we're often working, playing and sweating and so our lipstick wears off leaving … naked lips. Some lip balm is helpful, but remember this vulnerable area when in the sun.
Get Rid Of The Age Spots You Already Have
#8. If your age spots aren't too dark or too big, there are over-the-counter (OTC) products that might help.
* Well known products include Palmer's Skin Success Cream or Porcelana and they are frequently recommended as age spot treatments. But, I caution you NOT to use these products. They are loaded with dangerous chemicals. Palmer's, for instance, gets a hazard rating of 10 from the Cosmetic Safety Base … considering the highest possible hazard rating is a 10, this isn't too encouraging.
Porcelana has multiple hazardous ingredients in its innocent jar, including two forms of dangerous parabens.
Hydroquinone USP (2%), Octinoxate (2.5%). Inactive Ingredients: Water, Mineral Oil, Glyceryl Stearate, Cetyl Alcohol, Isopropyl Palmitate, PEG-100 Stearate, Propylene Glycol, Emulsifying Wax NF, Stearic Acid, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Tocopheryl Acetate, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Beta Carotene, Disodium EDTA, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Sodium Metabisulfite, Citric Acid, BHT, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Diazolidinyl Urea, Fragrance.
The most famous and most-used ingredient for removing brown spots is Hydroquinone but it is a controversial agent. It's been used for decades and it definitely is effective as a spot remover … but high doses have caused cancers in mice. Whether this has any relation to the human body is unknown at this time.
#9. A product called Wart Stick has an extraordinarily high concentration of Salicylate Acid: 40%. Some have recommended using it on brown spots but after searching the Net I was unable to find an ingredient list. So, its safety is unknown.
Home Remedies As Treatment For Age Spots
#10. A home remedy that some swear by is to mix 1/4 cup borax with one half cup granulated sugar in a glass jar. Cover and let stand for 48 hours. Once a day, stir the mixture and use a Q-tip to get this mixture on your spot.
#11. Another home remedy is to mix 1 teaspoon of borax with two tablespoons glycerin and 3/4 cup of water. Apply like above.
#12. Fresh lemon slices will get rid of age spots – on some people. Cut a slice of fresh lemon and place it on your spot for 10-15 minutes per day.
#13. Aloe vera gel is famous for promoting great looking skin and, if used twice per day, will gradually fade dark spots.
#14. Mix a couple of ice cubes with a handful of fresh dandelion leaves and liquify this in a blender. Strain before using on discolored skin.
#15. Grate horseradish into either vinegar or buttermilk and allow the mixture to sit for several hours. Buttermilk has been used as a skin lightener for decades.
Yes, these last remedies will take longer – but they're much safer. Whatever you choose, be patient because your brown spots won't fade quickly. They're stubborn!
Remove Skin Spots At The Doc's Office
If you're too impatient for OTC products, or you're unconcerned about safety, a doc can haul out her/his trusty prescription pad.
#16. Lustra is a prescription-only cream with a higher concentration of Hydroquinone than OTC products: 4%. Most people see results in about 28 days.
#17. There are even stronger prescriptions with stronger bleaching effects with even quicker results than Lustra. These involve adding vitamin A creams (like Renova & Retin-A) to Hydroquinone.
If topical creams and lotions don't handle the problem, more drastic measure are available.
#18. Cryotherapy is the use of extreme cold to destroy damaged tissue. This is effective with age spots – usually using liquid nitrogen to freeze your dark spots and they will peel off in less than a week.
#19. Chemical peels are sometimes effective for removing age spots. The peeling agent is usually either Trichloroacetic Acid or Glycolic Acid. The spots will be gone from your face in 2-3 days. However, be careful who does this procedure! If not done correctly, it can result in scarring.
#20. Laser resurfacing is very effective – and very expensive: $2000-$6000, depending on how much skin is to be treated. Healing takes two-six weeks, which is another downside.
If All Else Fails: HIDE The Spots On Your Skin
#21. Cosmetics may be your first – or last – answer. If none of the options above suit, use concealer to hide those nasty spots. A cream-based concealer has more covering power than a water-based one, but experimentation will discover what's best for you. Use a concealer that's lighter than your skin tone, for best results.
If skin sun spots really bother you, there are obviously a multitude of ways to fade dark spots. You will have to make choices that involve time for fading, safety, expensive and discomfort. Clearly, no one answer is right for everyone.