As the skin ages or is exposed to the sun, small, flat spots in varying shades of brown and black may develop. Also called liver spots or solar lentigines, age spots are more common after age 40 for people with lighter complexions.
Although they are not dangerous, not everyone likes they way they look. While there are several medically supervised options available for removing or lessening the appearance of age spots, these can be expensive—and may make the situation worse through scarring, discoloration, or discomfort. Here is a look at a few home remedies for age spots.
The most effective means of achieving unblemished skin is to prevent age spots from forming in the first place. The biggest trick is practicing safe sun habits. Avoid intense exposure during the time when the sun’s strongest rays are out—from late morning to early afternoon. Any time you plan to spend a lot of time outdoors—even if it looks cloudy—use sunscreen every two hours with an SPF of at least 30. During activities that are prone to moisture, whether from sweat or a swimming pool, apply sunscreen more often.
Opt for hats with a wide, protective brim, and wear clothes that cover the arms and legs. Even if you’ve already gotten a few age spots, starting preventative measures may keep you from getting a lot more.
Another option may be the plethora of creams and lotions in the skincare aisle claiming to reverse the aging process. However, it can be difficult to sort through all the phony products to find one that’s actually effective. Most of these over-the-counter creams are only effective on lighter spots, when used regularly and in the long-term. Darker spots may be more difficult to erase, and it can take months to see a difference.
Make sure to pay attention to the ingredient list when choosing a product. Most experts recommend finding a brand that contains hydroquinone, glycolic acid, or kojic acid; others also suggest deoxyarbutin or alpha hydroxy acid.
Try a little bit of the product on a small, out-of the-way spot before rubbing it all over yourself; some products may cause redness, itching, or dryness. Others may simply not agree with your skin. Remember to try it for several months before giving up and switching to a different product—it can take some time to see significant results.
There are more natural options for removing age spots, if that is a route you want to take. However, the research supporting these are effective methods of treatment is scant at best. Household items that may help reduce age spots include:
- Apple cider vinegar
- Lemon juice
- Sliced onion
- Castor oil
- Aloe vera
- Horseradish mixed with milk
- Raw, grated papaya
- Buttermilk and tomato juice
- Watermelon rind
- Water boiled with cumin seeds
- Garlic paste
- Whole-milk yogurt
- Radish, vinegar, lime juice, and rosemary oil
- Rosewater and sandalwood powder