Ask a Dermatologist: What’s the Best Way to Treat Dark Spots?
We’ve been feeling very “Lady Macbeth” lately, screaming “Out, damned spot!” over and over again in our dreams (and occasionally in the morning after peering in the mirror). The only difference is that we aren’t addressing the phantom blood of our late husband, but rather the annoying dark spots that keep popping up on our faces. (Less traumatic, but just as emotional. Sort of.) We decided to get the scoop on how to deal with these pesky complexion-ruiners from Mona Gohara, Associate Clinical Professor of Dermatology at Yale School of Medicine. Read on for some surprising information…
Back to Basics
First, let’s talk about what dark spots actually are. Often interchanged with “sun spots” and “age spots”, Gohara says they are “are small tan or light brown, patches on the skin that look very similar to, but are not freckles. An easy way to remember the difference? Freckles fade, while sun spots stay.”
So why exactly do we get these pesky little spots? We can blame the big round orb in the sky for that: “The term “age spots” is actually a misnomer—the fact is that these skin lesions result from sun, not age. If we lived in a world that lacked ultraviolet light, no one would have lentigos, even if they were 100 years old. The reason people notice them later in life is because that is when most signs of sun damage manifest themselves.”
“The best way to prevent dark spots is to load up on SPF 30 every 2 hours, regardless of your skin color or weather conditions,” says Gohara. This will help protect your skin from UV rays and prevent premature spots from appearing. To treat dark spots, Gohara suggests looking for ingredients like Hydroquinone, retinol and vitamin C – whether used alone or together, these ingredients have powerful, potent brightening abilities. Going the natural route? Soy, coffee berry extract, kojic acid and licorice root extract are the best natural alternatives, says Gohara. Product-wise, she suggests Kate Sommerville Complexion Correcting Spot Reducing Concentrate and Murad Rapid Age Spot and Pigment Lightening Serum. We’re fans of Skinceuticals Advanced Pigment Corrector and L’Oréal Youth Code Dark Spot Correcting & Illuminating Serum Corrector for their brightening abilities.
One Last Thing…
Wear sunscreen even when you’re indoors – according to Gohara, light bulbs can make lentigos and melisma worse! Scary, but aren’t you glad you know?
How do you treat dark spots? Any products you swear by? Share with us in the comments!