Age spots are those unsightly gray, brown, or black spots you get on your face, hands, shoulders, and arms as you age. Age spots, also known as liver spots and solar lentigines, are caused by exposure to the sun, and while mostly harmless, they can lead to insecurities and emotional scarring. Since it's impossible to avoid the sun all the time, age spots are very common in people 40 and over, but they can appear in younger people, as well.
Treatments vary for age spots depending on their severity and placement on the skin. Dermatologists use prescription strength topical products, microdermabrasion, chemical peels, chemical spot treatments, laser treatments, and light therapy to lighten age spots. Some of these procedures require only one treatment, others require several and can be quite expensive.
Retinol and hydroquinone are two of the active ingredients found in many age spot treatments. Retinol helps lighten the skin by gently removing (exfoliating) the pigment already pooled in the epidermis, and hydroquinone inhibits melanin production in the skin. Although there are many other ingredients found in age spot treatments, these are two of the most popular.
Prevention is key to keeping age spots at bay. Despite their name, age spots are not caused by age; they are caused by sun damage. Common sense will tell you that avoiding the sun at all costs is the best way to prevent age spots from appearing in the first place. We all know that isn't possible, so the next best option is to use a good sunscreen every day, even on cloudy days, even in the dead of winter.
With summer in full swing, the sun's rays are at their most potent, especially between the hours of 10am and 4pm. Use a sunscreen like SkinMedica Environmental Defense Sunscreen SPF 50+ with UV ProPlex each and every day, and seek shade or stay indoors when the sun is strongest to avoid dealing with age spots later in life.