Age is just a number, but age spots can make you look — and feel — older than you actually are.
While no products or treatments can make them magically disappear immediately, there are ways you can minimize their visibility.
Fading the appearance of age spots requires a combination of effective active ingredients, cosmetic treatments, consistency and patience. We're sharing several tips you can start using today to improve the appearance of age spots.
What are age spots?
Age spots — also known as dark spots, lentigo (liver spots) or solar lentigines (sun spots) — are areas that are darker than the rest of the skin. These areas can be individual or occur in groups, often on parts of the face that have the most sun exposure.
Why are these spots darker? The answer has to do with an increased production of a pigment called melanin in those areas. Increased skin pigmentation can be the result of any of a number of different factors, including:
Certain skin conditions
Hormonal fluctuations (especially during pregnancy)
General skin irritation
Skin injury (after scabbing or scarring)
Changes in skin color and discoloration can exist on the top layer of skin (the epidermis) or even further into the dermis (the middle layer). The depth of the affected skin cells directly impacts how long it will take to fade their appearance — deeper spots may take a higher percentage of active ingredients or a more targeted cosmetic treatment to make a visible difference.
Four tips on how to fade the look of age spots
Regardless of their trigger, there are steps we can take to help fade the look of age spots. Below are four tips for how to minimize the appearance of age spots and discoloration. Remember — when applying these tips to your routine, consistency and patience are key!
1. Use the right actives
Even the most expensive, high-quality skin care products won’t work if they don’t have the right active ingredients for the job. Knowing what ingredients to use to tackle specific skin care issues is crucial for developing the most effective routine possible — not just for age spots, but for all aesthetic concerns.
Stick to products with active ingredients that have been proven effective for reducing the visibility of age spots — these may include alpha-hydroxy acids like glycolic acid, beta-hydroxy acids (specifically salicylic acid), kojic acid, retinoids and antioxidants (like niacinamide and vitamin C).
Many of these ingredients can be found in a variety of skin products, including cleansers, toners, moisturizing lotions, skin-lightening creams and spot treatments. While they're effective, be careful not to overdo it with these ingredients — you don’t want to have the same active ingredient in every product, as that can lead to side effects like skin irritation (especially for those with a more sensitive skin type).
2. Consider your cosmetic treatment options
Depending on how significant the age spots are, regular over-the-counter skin care may not be enough to make a visible difference. For larger or darker areas of pigmentation, cosmetic treatments may be beneficial.
There are a variety of cosmetic treatments that work to combat the appearance of age spots. The popular vampire facial — a treatment performed with PRP (platelet-rich plasma) — is one of the most effective. Other cosmetic treatments that can help to manage dark spots include microneedling, chemical peels and IPL (intense pulsed light) or BBL (broadband light) photofacials.
The goal of these treatments is to resurface the skin, even out the skin tone and remove dead skin cell buildup, leaving you with a refreshed complexion. As an added benefit, these treatments can also help support the skin’s natural collagen production!
Make sure to follow your skin care provider's post-treatment guidelines and be consistent with your routine to help maintain your results as long as possible. After any cosmetic procedure, moisturizing is crucial for maintaining the strength of the skin’s protective moisture barrier.
3. Know when to consult your skin care provider
If you’ve tried everything and haven't noticed a significant change in the visibility of your age spots, it may be time to schedule a consultation with a board-certified skin care provider. Certain topical medications are only available with a prescription, as they have a higher percentage of active ingredients that make them far stronger than over-the-counter options.
There are also different procedures, like cryotherapy (performed with liquid nitrogen), dermabrasion or laser therapy, that will need to be done in the clinic setting.
4. Practice good sun protection
One of the leading causes of age spots is chronic, unprotected sun exposure.
Because of the significantly negative effects the sun can have on health and wellness, as well as physical appearance, sunscreen is crucial. However, not all sunscreens are created equal.
It’s important to look for one that hits three specific criteria — broad-spectrum protection against UV rays, an SPF of 30 or higher and water resistance.
In addition to using high-quality broad-spectrum sunscreen (even when you don’t plan on being outside for an extended amount of time), it’s also recommended that you wear protective clothing and accessories like hats and sunglasses (with UV protection). A lip balm with SPF can also be helpful — lips can get sunburned, too!
Skipping the tanning beds (and the ultraviolet sun damage that comes with them) can also help preserve your youthful complexion. If you miss having tan skin, you can always schedule an appointment for a spray tan or use a tanning lotion to recreate that sun-kissed look without damaging your skin.
The bottom line...
Learning how to remove age spots involves a combination of the right products, consistency and patience. Our providers would love to help you develop an effective routine and get you the results you deserve — book a skin consult with us to get started!
Want long- and short-term benefits from your next appointment? Stack Skinvive with another treatment!
Skinviveis now available at all Skin Pharm clinics! This skin-boosting treatment improves hydration, smooths texture and boosts collagen for a lasting glow. After about four weeks, you’ll notice a more radiant complexion and enjoy results for up to six months!