Sun exposure can cause dark spots to appear on skin, sometimes called “age spots.” Here’s how to fade and prevent them.
The biggest long-term sun damage symptom is dark spots. Sun spots are melanin deposits, also called lentigos or solar lentigines, which appear on skin in areas typically exposed to the sun over time, such as the face, hands, and arms. These spots are caused by years of direct exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet radiation, which damages the color-producing cells of the skin. The cells, called melanocytes, then go into overdrive, producing too much color.
Too much sun also causes irregular coloring or pigmentation of the skin. The cumulative effects of prolonged sun exposure put you at higher risk of cellular damage, early wrinkling, thinning skin, actinic keratoses (scaly patches), and skin cancer.
Applying sunscreen each day keeps the spots away. Use sunscreen each time you go outdoors, even when it’s overcast. And if you already have spots, sunscreen will keep them from darkening and help prevent new ones.
Either way, remember the “15” rules. Look for a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. If you burn or your skin continues to produce spots, switch to a higher SPF sunscreen than the one you are currently using.
Hyperpigmentation may also result from perfumes or the interaction of medications along with sun exposure. “Spots can be caused by estrogens from contraceptives or pregnancy,” says Kenneth Beer, MD, a dermatologist in West Palm Beach, Fla.
You can help repair your skin with products containing antioxidants such as vitamin C. Fade spots with licorice extract, which has depigmenting effects and inhibits melanin synthesis, and natural skin brightening creams. Look for vitamin E, papaya, lemon, kojic acid (from fermented rice), arbutin (from bearberry, cranberry, or blueberry leaves), and Indian gooseberry.
Add internal sun protection with bilberry, which is available as an extract. Gotu kola is an herb that can help stimulate collagen growth. It can be made into a tea or taken as a capsule.
Soothe a painful sunburn with these easy home remedies.
Too much unprotected time in the sun and that healthy glow turns into a painful sunburn. If your sunscreen didn’t have a high enough SPF, you didn’t use enough sunscreen, or you didn’t reapply, there are some natural solutions to save your skin after sunburn and reduce pain, heat, and redness. Remember to drink plenty of fluids to keep your body hydrated.
To relieve the pain, take a cool shower or fill a bathtub with cool water and dissolve one pound of baking soda or oatmeal in it. Relax in the bath for 15 or 20 minutes.
Gently apply aloe vera gel. Aloe gel is believed to have anti-inflammatory effects, and is used topically to soothe burned skin and to help heal wounds.
White Vinegar and Apple Cider Vinegar
This is a popular sunburn remedy. Although there is no evidence behind this folk remedy, many people who try it say it helps to relieve pain when applied to the skin. Another option is to fill a clean spray bottle with half vinegar and half water and spray it onto the affected skin.
Another home remedy for sunburn is to use tea compresses. Boil a pot of strong tea and allow the tea to cool in the refrigerator for a few hours, or cool it with ice cubes. Use cotton gauze or a clean cotton towel to make a tea compress. Keep in mind that whatever you use to apply the tea is going to become permanently stained. Gently place the tea compress on the sunburn and allow the tannic acid to draw the heat out and relieve inflammation. You can also put the cold tea in a spray bottle and spray it directly on the sunburn.
Typically, after a few days the burned skin will peel. Continue applying aloe gel or use a lotion that also contains vitamin E and green tea to help soothe and heal the skin.
Tip: Be sure to apply sunscreen before you go outside—it takes 20-30 minutes for the ingredients to start to work.
Adding glycolic and kojic acids (exfoliating agents) to hyroquinone (the lightening ingredient) amps up the fading power of Reviva Labs Brown Spot Night Gel. Plus, allantoin and aloe help improve skin texture.
Kiss My Face After Sun Aloe Soother. With more than 1,000 years of use in Native American remedies, aloe vera, yucca root, and jewelweed provide extraordinary moisturization and antioxidant power to soothe inflamed skin, burns, and rashes.
Nature’s Gate Vitamin E Oil features an easy-to-apply roll-on applicator. This pure vitamin E oil absorbs quickly to restore softness and suppleness to sun-damaged and dry, chapped skin, and works on stretch marks, too.
Derma-e Vitamin E 12,000 IU Creme is specially formulated with a high concentration of vitamin E to moisturize and soothe extra dry skin and minor skin irritations, and provides excellent protection against free-radical attack.