Age spots are the flat brown, black or yellow spots that appear on the neck, hands and face. They are primarily caused by sun-exposure, and usually start to appear once people hit 40. Age spots are not dangerous in any way, so there is no medical reason to get rid of them. However, they can reveal a person’s age, so many men and women want to remove them for aesthetic reasons. You can get rid of age spots using a number of different methods: using OTC and prescription products, using home remedies, or using professional skin treatments.
Using OTC and Prescription Products
Use hydroquinone. Hydroquinone is a very effective bleaching cream which can significantly reduce the appearance of age spots.
- It is available in concentrations up to 2% over-the-counter, but higher concentrations will require a prescription from your doctor.
- Be aware that hydroquinone has been banned in many European and Asian countries, due to its potential carcinogenic properties. However, it is still widely available in the US.
Use Retin-A. Retin-A is an excellent anti-aging skin care product which is used to combat fine lines and wrinkles, improve the skin’s texture and elasticity and fade discoloration and sun damage, including age spots.
- Retin-A is a vitamin A derivative which is available in cream or gel form, in a variety of different strengths. It is only available by prescription, so you will need to see your doctor before you start using it.
- It helps to eliminate age spots by exfoliating the skin, removing the outer hyperpigmented layer and revealing the fresh, new skin underneath.
Use products containing glycolic acid. Glycolic acid is type of alpha hydroxy acid which is commonly used in chemical peels. It works by exfoliating the skin, diminishing the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and age spots.
- When sold OTC, glycolic acid is found in cream or lotion form, which is usually applied and left to sit on the skin for a few minutes, before being rinsed off.
- Glycolic acid can be quite harsh on the skin, sometimes causing redness and discomfort. You should always moisturize your skin after using glycolic acid products.
Use sunscreen. Sunscreen won’t actually help to reduce the appearance of your existing age spots, but it will prevent new ones from forming (as they are caused primarily by sun damage).
- In addition, the sunscreen will prevent your existing sun spots from becoming any darker or more noticeable.
- You should wear a sunscreen with a zinc oxide base and an SPF of at least 15 everyday, even if it’s not hot or sunny.
Using Home Remedies
Use lemon juice. Lemon juice contains citric acid, which can help to bleach age spots. Simply dab a little fresh lemon juice directly onto the sun spot and leave to sit for 30 minutes before rinsing off. Do this twice a day and you should start to see results in a month or two.
Use buttermilk. Buttermilk contains lactic acid, which bleaches the skin in the same way as the citric acid in lemon juice. Apply a little buttermilk directly onto your age spots and leave for 15 minutes to half an hour before rinsing off. Do this twice a day.
- If you tend to have very oily skin, it’s a good idea to mix the buttermilk with a little lemon juice before applying, as this will prevent your skin from becoming greasy.
- For added benefit, mix a little tomato juice in with the buttermilk, as tomato also contains bleaching properties which can help to reduce age spots.
Use honey and yogurt. A combination of honey and yogurt is believed to be beneficial when it comes to reducing age spots.
- Simply mix equal parts of honey and plain yogurt together and apply directly onto the age spots.
- Leave for 15 to 20 minutes before rinsing off. Do this twice a day.
Use apple cider vinegar. Apple cider vinegar is an important ingredient in many home remedies, including one for age spots! Apply a little apple cider vinegar directly onto the age spots and leave for 30 minutes before rinsing off.
- Only use this treatment once a day, as apple cider vinegar can be drying on the skin. You should start to see an improvement in the appearance of the age spots after about six weeks.
- For added benefit, mix one part apple cider vinegar with one part onion juice (which you can extract by pushing chopped onion through a strainer) and apply this to the age spots instead.
Use aloe vera. Aloe vera is commonly used to treat a number of skin ailments, including age spots. Simply rub a little fresh aloe vera gel (taken directly from the plant) onto the affected area and leave to soak in.
- As aloe vera is very gentle, there is no need to rinse it off. However, you may want to rinse it off if it starts to feel sticky.
- If you don’t have access to the gel from an aloe vera plant, you can bu fresh aloe vera juice at the market or health food store. This works just as well.
Use castor oil. Castor oil is known for its skin healing properties and has proven effective in the treatment of age spots. Apply a little castor oil directly onto the age spots and massage into the skin for a minute or two until absorbed.
- Do this once in the morning and once in the evening, and you should start to see an improvement in about a month.
- If you suffer from dry skin, you can mix a little coconut oil, olive oil or almond oil in with the castor oil for added moisturization.
Use sandalwood. Sandalwood is believed to contain effective anti-aging properties, and is often used to reduce the appearance of age spots.
- Mix a pinch of sandalwood powder with a couple of drops each of rose water , glycerin and lemon juice. Apply this paste onto the age spots and leave to dry for 20 minutes before rinsing off with cold water.
- Alternatively, you could massage a drop of pure sandalwood essential oil directly onto the age spots.
Using Professional Skin Treatments
Use laser technology to remove age spots. During the treatment, an intense laser light penetrates the epidermis and causes the skin to rejuvenate. The intensity of the light scatters the skin pigments and destroys the discoloration.
- The laser treatment is not painful, but may cause minimal discomfort. An anesthetic cream is applied 30 to 45 minutes before the procedure to ease the discomfort.
- The number of sessions required will depend on the size of the area and number of spots to be treated. Generally, 2 to 3 sessions will be required. Each session can last from 30 to 45 minutes.
- The treatment requires no downtime, but redness, puffiness and sensitivity to sunlight may occur.
- Although laser treatment is extremely effective, its major downside is the cost. Depending on the type of laser used (Q-switched ruby, alexandrite or Fraxel dual laser) and the number of age spots requiring treatment, prices can range from $400 to $1500 per session.
Try microdermabrasion treatments to remove age spots. Microdermabrasion is a noninvasive skin treatment that uses a wand with air pressure. The wand blasts crystals, zinc or other abrasive materials directly against the skin, exfoliating the top layers to remove the dark, hyperpigmented skin.
- Microdermabrasion requires no down time and there are no side effects.
- A session can be from 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the area being treated. Treatment sessions are given in 2- to 3-week intervals.
- Typically, 2 to 3 sessions will be required. Prices range can be $75 or more per session.
Get a chemical peel. A chemical peel works by dissolving dead skin so new radiant skin will surface. During a chemical peel, the area to be treated is thoroughly cleansed and a gel-like acidic substance is applied. The area is then neutralized to stop the chemical process.
- Side effects include redness, peeling and sensitivity, which may require down time.
- Generally, two treatment sessions are required, which are given in 3- to 4-week intervals. The prices can be $250 or more per session.