Sun spots are like uninvited houseguests: once they show up, they’re usually here for the long haul unless you take action to get rid of them. Here, I'll describe what they are, what they mean, and a few ways to address them if they bother you!
What are sun spots?
Sun spots are small, flat areas of increased pigmentation, also commonly called age spots, liver spots, and solar lentigines. They occur as a result of chronic exposure to ultraviolet light, which speeds up the production of melanin, which can clump together over time and create a darker color. They are more common in (but not limited to) people with lighter skin tones, and tend to look more pronounced on lighter skin tones, which have less melanin at baseline. They tend to occur on areas of the body that get the most sun exposure over time, like cheeks, hands, bald heads, and shoulders. If your “sun spot” has any texture to it, if it itches or bleeds, or if it contains multiple colors, it’s important to have it examined by a dermatologist.
Do sun spots go away?
Left alone, they will not go away. And there's no need to try to remove them if they don't bother you, but they can show up in prominent places, so sometimes people want to diminish their appearance.
How to prevent sun spots
Wear zinc sunscreen, big hats, sunglasses, and long sleeves! Try to avoid the sun between 10am and 2pm, when the rays are the strongest. And consider a supplement like Heliocare, which helps prevent damage from harmful UV rays. Limiting your skin’s exposure to UV light NOW is the best way to prevent sun spots in the future, and to prevent other chronic sun-related damage, including skin cancer!
How to get rid of sun spots
Do you have to get rid of sun spots? Absolutely not! But they can become annoying if they’re in the wrong place. I have one on my upper cheek that always looks like a little bruise (especially in my photos) so I decided to look into my options for reducing its appearance.
Natural Solutions to Sun Spots
If you’re not frantic about your sun spots, and are willing to take the slow and gentle route, look for ingredients that can help increase cell turnover and repair oxidative damage. These products are suitable for sensitive skin, and can often be used where other treatments have caused irritation or other side effects.
Dermatological Solutions to Sun Spots
1) Laser and IPL
3) Cryotherapy (Freezing)
This is essentially sanding down your face. It can help with sun spots, and microdermabrasion may cause slightly less trauma, but be careful if you have sensitive skin or any concerns about rosacea, because it can make those conditions worse.