Image by: Kirsten Loza
By Harper Finch
Dark sun spots, also known as age or liver spots, are a sign of sun damage and overexposure to UV rays over many years. They occur as the result of concentrations of melanin, or pigment, on the skin. Melanin is produced by your body, as a defense against harmful radiation. While these spots may not show up until the age of 40 or so, they can appear on younger people, as well. Those with light colored, or fair skin and those who have a history of frequent sunburn or exposure to the sun, will most commonly develop sun spots.
Age spots do not require medical treatment but, for cosmetic purposes, there are things you can do to reduce their appearance. Some treatments require lasers or skin lightening creams, but you can achieve great results using natural home remedies. Like all treatments, these may take some time to produce results, but they are natural and inexpensive.
#1) Prevention is Key
The only way to prevent sun spots is to avoid unprotected UV radiation exposure. You should wear broad-spectrum sunscreen that is at least SPF 15 every day, and avoid tanning in a tanning bed. Opt for sunless tanning as much as you can.
To reduce overexposure to the sun, stay out of it as much as possible, especially between 10 am and 4 pm, when the sun’s UV rays are the strongest. Stay in the shade and keep your skin covered as much as possible. Hats and sunglasses go a long way in keeping the sun off of your face. And clothing with tightly-weaved fibers block out UV radiation the best.
#2) Lemon Juice
Lemons are inexpensive and can be bought at any grocery store. Lemon juice has been shown to help fade the appearance of sun spots because it acts as an alpha-hydroxy acid.
All you have to do is squeeze the lemon and, using a cotton ball, rub the juice onto your age spots. Leave it on your skin for 15 to 30 minutes, if your skin is not irritated by it, and then rinse it off with water. Because the lemon juice is very acidic, it can cause a burning sensation in sensitive skin. Rinse it off if it becomes too much, and don’t repeat the process too often.
Also note that lemon juice contains natural forms of glycolic and citric acids, which can cause increased sensitivity to the sun. This makes sunscreen use even more important following treatment.
#3) Apple Cider Vinegar
Another popular home remedy uses a mixture of apple cider vinegar and onion juice. You simply combine them in equal amounts and apply it directly to the skin. Leave this on the skin for a minimum of 30 minutes, or as long as you are comfortable with it. Repeat this once a day for approximately 6 weeks and you should begin to notice a gradual improvement.
To get the onion juice, finely chop or blend an onion, and use a strainer or cheese cloth to squeeze and extract the juice.
Alternatively, you can combine 2 tsp of apple cider vinegar with 1 tsp of orange juice and apply it in the same way.
#4) Regular Exfoliation
Your skin produces new cells nonstop, and it can shed up to 50,000 dead skin cells every minute. But as we age, cells sometimes don’t slough off as well as they should. You need to exfoliate your skin regularly to help remove the dead upper layer, including the hyperpigmented areas that create age spots, and expose newer skin cells.
You can create a natural exfoliating scrub at home by combining 1/2 cup of honey with 1/4 cup of sugar. Use it once or twice a week to scrub off dead skin cells and store it in the refrigerator between uses.
Using natural treatments, you probably won’t see results as quickly as you would with non-natural treatments like lasers, skin-lightening creams, or chemical peels, but they can make a big difference in your skin’s appearance. The key to seeing results is consistency and patience. Stick with it and those spots will fade.