Age spots, sunspots, liver spots, solar lentigines…….whatever you call them, they are an unwelcome sight on your skin. These flat, dark areas that appear on the skin are a sign of over exposure to the sun and the spots are actually an attempt by your skin to protect itself from more sun damage (thank you??). But I have good news for you- you can get rid of age spots! As with all things skincare, nothing happens overnight but with diligent (read: obsessive) use, you will begin to see the age spots lighten and in many cases be completely erased over time. This is a lengthy post covering the most effective and common options, so grab a beverage and read on!
*Disclaimer: I’m not a medical professional. I’m just a woman over 50 who loves to research all things skin care and who enjoys sharing the results of both my research as well as my own experiences in the hope that it helps my readers to make informed decisions to help them look their best. This blog uses affiliate links, thank you for supporting my blog!
How to Prevent Age Spots
It goes without saying that never getting age spots in the first place would be hot-damn awesome. Since these dark, unwanted discolorations appear because of sun exposure- a good mineral sunscreen should be your go to every.single.damned.day. I KNOW! This statement is the equivalent of you explaining your medical issue and me asking you if you’re drinking enough water. It’s incredibly anti-climactic, but it also works. If you’re reading here, then you’re probably like me and grew up in the “get as dark as you can as fast as you can” tanning era, so we’ve got some work to do! Here are several mineral sunscreens that I recommend for the face. Get one and start using it every day. Even in the winter. Also-…… are you drinking enough water? (So annoying).
Top Mineral Sunscreens
The Best Topical Treatment To Get Rid of Age Spots
The hands down, best topical to remove age spots, improve fine lines and wrinkles and increase collagen production is Tretinoin (Retin A). With over 40 years of research behind it, this is the number one studied and used ingredient that can actually turn back the hands of time and undo all the sun baking glory of your misspent youth.
In a nutshell: Tretinoin works. It takes time and consistent use. It is safe but can be irritating until your skin adjusts……. And again, it works.
Tretinoin, Retin A
The prescription strength of Tretinoin (Retin A) will by far give you the best, fastest results because it’s able to work on the cellular level. Over the counter retinols can be effective over time, but they will not give you the same results as the prescription strength. Start out at a low percentage, use it regularly every night and gradually increase your strength over a period time (2 years for me). I get my tretinoin from Curology. It’s delivered straight to my door each month and I love it. If you can’t get curology where you live or if you’d like to find even more of a discount, I have ordered from Reliable RX Pharmacy many times and I can recommend them as well. (Just click the link to see their Retin A) If you go this route, start with the lowest strength available. You can read more about using Reliable RX Pharmacy here.
Tretinoin is only to be applied at night. It is an acid, so I simply apply my Curology onto clean, dry skin and then top with my Holy Grail moisturizer. If you experience irritation, skip a night or two in between applications and/or try adding a few drops of a simple facial oil to your Tretinoin before applying to your face.
For effectiveness, you simply cannot beat prescription strength Tretinoin (Retin A) to get rid of age spots as well as provide a whole host of other anti aging benefits. I began using it at 45 and after 6 months, I wished I’d started at 40!
Tretinoin and sunscreen should be at the very top of your list of topicals to get rid of age spots, combat fine lines and wrinkles and increase collagen.
Other Topicals That Can Help Too
Vitamin C is the next best topical in helping to get rid of age spots. It’s also an acid as well as a potent antioxidant that combats free radicals. It helps your body repair damaged skin cells and because it is acidic, when you apply it to the skin, your skin is kicked into “healing mode” and it accelerates the production of collagen. Vitamin C also inhibits your skins melanin production- so it helps prevent dark spots.
The best Vitamin C to look for is one that contains ascorbic acid. This is the most stable and effective form and using a serum base seems to be the most effective type. If you have very sensitive skin, start with a low concentration (5% or less) and do a test area first. For the record, I have never had any sensitivity to Vitamin C serum, so it just depends on your own skins sensitivity.
Skinceuticals has long been a gold standard in Vitamin C serums with their C + E Ferulic Acid serum. However the price tag is pretty substantial, to say the least. Recently I discovered this one from Dr. Brenners and the ingredients are almost identical and for under $20, so sign me up!
I use my vitamin C serum in the morning right after cleansing.
Top Vitamin C serums
Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA’s)
The next topicals that will help to get rid of age spots are alpha hydroxy acids. These work to break down the “glue’ that is holding all of those dead skin cells onto the surface of your face, encouraging faster skin cell turnover and exfoliating the skin. Over time this will also help to get rid of age spots as well as give you a brighter complexion and more even skin tone. These work very well but can also be irritating. If you have sensitive skin definitely check with your dermatologist and/or do a test patch first. Glycolic Acid is the powerhouse of AHA’s because of its small molecular size, meaning it will be able to penetrate the skin more, working its awesomeness faster and more effectively. However, it’s also the one that can be the most irritating for the same reason, so easy does it!
I am currently trying to work up to using The Ordinary AHA/BHA Peeling solution one night a week (replacing RetIn A that night) . It’s very strong and I’m not there yet! I’ve listed it and other Glycolic Acids below.
Top Glycolic Acids
In-Office procedures to get rid of age spots
Your dermatologist or a good med spa, etc will have more intensive treatments to get rid of age spots. Stronger peels ranging in strength from superficial to deep peeling (7-10 day recovery) are very effective at removing discoloration from the skin. And because these are stronger and used under the supervision of a medical professional you will see results faster.
I can’t speak to these procedures because I haven’t experienced them ….yet. I’ve been very happy with the results of the topicals above on my skin- so age spots are simply not an issue for me because of these solutions. I’ll probably save the In Office procedures for all the other issues I’ve got going on on my face!
Things to Keep in mind
*Everything I’ve mentioned here is a chemical exfoliant. Exfoliation is very easy to OVER do, so be extra careful with the physical exfoliation. You won’t want to do much scrubbing, etc. Be gentle with your skin.
*While regular exfoliation is beneficial to the skin, over-exfoliated skin has lost more of the the surface skin cells than is ideal. Go easy.
*Other signs that you may be over-doing exfoliation are redness, tightness, and dryness.
*All of these solutions are effective. Start slow and let your skin adjust to avoid a reaction. Don’t hesitate to back off and allow even more time in between applications. Slow and steady.
*These will all work on the backs of hands as well, so don’t neglect the hands if you have age spots on them (from the steering wheel!). You can also use this cream daily as a regular hand/ body moisturizer – it contains a good 12% dose of glycolic acid.
I hope that this post has been helpful! If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them.
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