Age spots can become more and more prominent as the years go on. Many may want to take matters into their own hands to reduce the appearance of these marks.
Read on to learn more about age spots, as well as how to get rid of age spots on the face.
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What are Age Spots?
Age spots are small dark marks on the skin that develop with age and unprotected sun exposure. They are flat, and can be tan, brown, or black – often resembling freckles. Age spots have many different names, including sun spots, liver spots, and solar lentigines.
What Causes Age Spots?
Age spots are often the skin’s response to sun damage. When the skin is exposed to UV rays, it responds by producing an excess of melanin (a pigment). Melanocytes, a type of skin cell, are triggered to produce the melanin as a way to protect the skin. “Skin aging, sun exposure, or other forms of ultraviolet (UV) light exposure, such as tanning beds, can all contribute to their development,” explains Karen Whitney, a physician assistant at Advanced Cosmetic Surgery & Laser Center in Cincinnati.
Unfortunately, age spots don’t typically fade on their own. While they are harmless, some may want to attempt to reduce their appearance. If you are looking into how to get rid of age spots on the face, there are two approaches: at-home topicals and professional treatments.
How to Get Rid of Age Spots on the Face (At Home)
If you want to use a cream or serum to get rid of age spots at home, you should keep an eye out for active ingredients that will help lighten and brighten the skin.
“There are a variety of ingredients that help in brightening the age spots,” says Dr. Tanya Kormeili, MD, a board-certified dermatologist based in Santa Monica. “Some are Rx only – or are more effective in prescription strength – while some are available to the general public.” She notes that azelaic acid, glycolic acid, lactic acid, kojic acid, hydroquinone, vitamin C, licorice extract, and mandelic acid have been proven to help reduce the appearance of age spots.
Karen Whitney notes that many will have more success with prescription-strength topicals. “Physician-grade products are more likely to be successful as their active ingredients are more potent,” she says. “Retinols, which are topical Vitamin A creams, can be offered as tretinoin or retinol, and strengths will vary based on the type and sensitivity of the individual’s skin.” She also notes that hydroquinone (which is a topical bleaching product) can be prescribed in strengths ranging from 4 to 8% for effective fading.
Best Products to Get Rid of Facial Age Spots
If you want to take the at-home approach to treat your age spots, these are some of the best products with potent active ingredients that will brighten the skin and fade marks.
1. Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that offers a host of brightening benefits. This serum combines vitamin C with konjac root, ferulic acid, and hyaluronic acid to provide a hydrating, softening, smoothing, and anti-aging punch. This makes it a great option for treating age spots, as well as one of the best serums for general skin health. It is all natural, vegan, and cruelty-free.
How to Use: Cleanse and dry your skin. Dispense the product onto your fingers and gently massage into the skin. Follow up with a moisturizer. Use at night.
2. Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 8% AHA Gel Exfoliant
If you are looking into how to get rid of age spots on the face, you should turn to this exfoliating serum. This gel has a high concentration of glycolic acid, making it a great choice for those looking to reduce the appearance of age spots. It removes the top layer of dead skin to reveal refreshed skin underneath. The gel has a lightweight texture that absorbs quickly. This serum can also help you fight the visible signs of aging.
How to Use: Cleanse and dry the skin. Massage the product into your skin. Follow up with a moisturizer. Best used at night. Finish off with a sunscreen during the day.
3. The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%
Azelaic acid speeds up cell turnover rate, meaning it helps even out the skin’s texture. This cream-gel product from The Ordinary has a 10% concentration. It is safe and effective to use with active ingredients like vitamin C, so it can be used in conjunction with other products to treat age spots.
How to Use: Cleanse and dry your skin. You may want to start with another serum, such as a vitamin C or exfoliating product. Dispense the product into your hands, and then gently massage into your skin. Follow up with a moisturizer. Use this product 1 to 2 times daily.
How to Get Rid of Age Spots on the Face (Professionally)
Those with more severe or stubborn age spots may want to turn to a professional to reduce their appearance. Dr. Kormeili notes that many of the below treatments can be combined with prescription-strength topicals for faster, more profound results. Of course, talk to your dermatologist to determine which treatments will work best for you.
- Laser Treatments – Laser treatments use a monochromatic light source to treat the skin. If you are looking into how to get rid of age spots on the face with lasers, fraxel laser is likely your best bet. “Fraxel laser is one of the gold standards in removing age spots,” says Dr. Kormeili. Karen Whitney notes that Pico Focus Lens Array and CO2 lasers such as the SmartXide DOT are other laser treatment options that may help reduce the appearance of age spots. While some may only need one session, typically these treatments require multiple sessions for the best results.
- Intense Pulsed Light – Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) uses a broadband pulsed light source. These flashes of light work to break down the pigment in the skin. While IPL can be effective for those with lighter skin tones, it isn’t the best option for all patients. “Be careful doing IPL treatments if you [have] ethnic skin or have melasma,” says Dr. Kormeili. IPL can exacerbate melasma, and darker skin is more prone to side effects. Just as with laser treatments, more than one treatment might be needed.
- Chemical Peels – With a chemical peel, a strong chemical solution is topically applied to deeply exfoliate the skin. A peel lifts off the top layer of skin, and allows new skin to form in its place. There are varying strength levels, and more intense peels involve the skin peeling off in the days after treatment. One session may be enough to dramatically reduce the appearance of age spots, although multiple sessions may be necessary.
How to Prevent Facial Age Spots
Sun protection is key to preventing new age spots from forming. Wear a sunscreen to prevent tanning on daily basis to keep your skin protected. Be sure to not skip the sunscreen on cloudy days. When it is cloudy, up to 80% of the sun’s UV rays can still penetrate your skin – so your skin still needs protection.
Additionally, you will benefit from using brightening skincare products on a daily basis. “Vitamin C and other antioxidants help prevent additional damage and have a brightening effect on the skin,” explains Karen Whitney.
What is the best age spot remover?
Some of the best products for reducing the appearance of age spots are the Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum, Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 8% AHA Gel Exfoliant, and The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%.
What causes age spots on the face?
Age spots tend to appear with age, and in those who are spending time in the sun unprotected. Sun damage is the main cause of age spots on the face. Those looking into how to get rid of age spots on the face can try professional treatments and topicals to fade their appearance.
Does lemon juice remove age spots?
Lemon is a natural bleaching agent, but it likely won’t cause any dramatic effects in the reduction of age spots. It can also be irritating to the skin and make it more sensitive to light, which could end up exacerbating the issue.
The Bottom Line
Age spots are most commonly caused by sun damage and aging. Those looking at how to get rid of age spots on the face can turn to topical products and/or professional treatments. Over-the-counter topicals and prescription-strength products may be used. Sun protection is essential for those looking to prevent new age spots from forming.