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Lighten up on age spots

Article-Lighten up on age spots

Key iconKey Points

  • Brown spots can be treated in a variety of ways
  • Topicals, lasers and SPF are good options

The first time you look in the mirror and see an age spot, you might be tempted to do a double take.

When did your hands or your face begin to look like your grandmother's?

The reality is that age spots are really less about age and very much about sun damage. Back in the days when women didn't sunbathe, there was far less sun exposure and far fewer age spots. But times changed, and now a lot of us are paying the price of that golden tan with mottled brown spots on our faces and hands.

DIMMING THE SPOTS If these brown "freckles" are bumming you out, take heart — a lot can be done to eliminate them!
  • Topicals — Some people try the topical cream route first. Prescription creams such as Triluma, Lustra and Epiquin are applied to the spots, but the treatment can take a few months. And without daily applications of cream, you may not be satisfied with the ultimate results. One of the most popular over-the-counter spot-zappers, hydroquinone, may soon be disallowed by the Food and Drug Administration, so it may be difficult to find an effective product without a prescription.
  • Lasers — Many people find that lasers such as the Nd:YAG and the intense pulsed light (IPL) laser are the way to go for quick and permanent removal of brown spots. If this is an option you'd like to explore, speak with your dermatologist. He or she will probably tell you that the fall months are the best time to initiate laser treatments. Because your skin is more photosensitive after laser treatments, it makes sense to undergo the treatments when you won't be spending time at the beach or by the pool.
  • SPF — Regardless of the time of year, always make sure to wear a sunscreen of at least SPF 30 — one that protects against UVA and UVB sun rays. This is important for incidental sun exposure — the kind you get when you're walking to work, eating a sandwich in the park on a sunny day or running your Saturday errands.

OTC SIEGE WEAPONRY If you want to try an over-the-counter remedy, there are a few options to consider.

Many of these products work by adding light-diffusing ingredients to their formulas, and while they won't really eliminate unsightly spots, they can certainly minimize the appearance. Two to try are Alpha Hydrox Fade Cream and Nivea Visage Simply Glowing.

Alpha Hydrox Fade Cream is effective on hands, face and body. Its formula includes kojic acid, which helps to lighten those pesky spots. It may take as many as six weeks of consistent application to see results. Nivea Visage Simply Glowing contains a combination of essential minerals, apricot extract and vitamin C to brighten skin tone with shimmering pigments. It's used primarily for the face.

Whichever route you choose, take heart: These spots are relatively easy to eliminate or conceal. And, remember — 50 is the new 30; 60, the new 40!

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