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Everything You Need to Know About Preventing and Getting Rid of Sun Spots

You’ve probably Googled “how to remove sun spots from face” after a prolonged session in the sun. Here, the best tips on how to prevent that Google search from ever happening again. And the best tips on how to get rid of sun spots if you already have them.

Experiencing brown patches of skin? It’s likely you’re suffering from sun spots. These circular splotches are a result of excessive sun exposure. So if you’ve been sunbathing or skipping out on sun protection, your skin always remembers. These hard-to-treat spots can easily be prevented if you stick to thorough sun protection.  Here, we break down how these brown spots occur and offer up the best ways to treat them.

What are sun spots?

Sun spots, aka solar lentigos, are circular, light brown to black patches of skin. They can appear anywhere on the body but they’re most prevalent in areas with the most sun exposure. According to dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, these patches “are blotches caused by an increase in the number of pigment-producing cells in the skin, along with an increase in pigment itself.” They are most common in adults over 40 and they appear in areas where sun exposure is most common. This means the face, hands, and arms.

How are they caused?

The answer is pretty much in the name. Sun spots are caused by excessive UV light exposure.  But, it doesn’t happen overnight. Usually, these spots are a reflection of the amount of sun exposure you’ve incurred over the years. When you’re exposed to UV light, your skin produces more melanin in order to protect it from further damage. This means your tan, while it may be aesthetically pleasing, is actually a result of skin damage. Without sun protection, your skin is affected by sun exposure over and over again. The constant exposure damages it and results in sun spots. This is why they tend to appear in places where sun exposure is the most common.

So how do I prevent sun spots?

Sun protection is vital. No matter how many brightening products you use, they will be useless if you’re not using SPF protection every single day. This means you need to apply it even on those cloudy, cold winter days. It may sound gimmicky to constantly read beauty publications tout the effectiveness of sunscreen, but it’s because it’s proven to be the most effective way to protect the skin. Most people avoid sunscreen because they find it to be a hassle. It means you have to add another step in your routine or you hate the sunscreen smell and texture. Thankfully, Korean sunscreens are innovative and have helped to get rid of both of those issues.
Some of my favorite sunscreens are the Neogen Day-Light Sun Protection Sun Screen SPF 50, Missha Waterproof Sun Milk SPF 50 and the Tony Moly My Sunny Watery Sun Essence SPF 50. The Neogen SPF contains rose and raspberry extracts, for a nice boost of hydration. This makes it great for those who have oilier skin and want a moisturizer and SPF all in one. It’s super lightweight and won’t leave behind a heavy, greasy finish.
The Missha sunscreen is a classic for a reason. It provides broad-spectrum protection without any greasy residue or white cast. It also absorbs quickly, leaving behind a soft matte finish. Plus, this formula is waterproof, which means it can withstand hot, summer days and excessive sebum production. The lightweight texture and quick absorption make it perfect to wear under makeup.
The Tony Moly My Sunny Watery Sun Essence should be your go-to if you have dry skin. This SPF is essentially an essence and SPF all-in-one. It contains hyaluronic acid and aloe vera extract to brighten, soothe and hydrate skin. This is yet another sunscreen that doesn’t leave a ghastly white cast and it wears well under makeup.
Any of these sunscreens are great for those who claim they can’t stand them. It’s important to find a formula that you enjoy using as it’s the only way to stick to using it on a consistent basis. Once you find it, remember to use it every day and to reapply throughout the day as well! The constant sun protection will help to prevent and avoid future sunspots. Remember, these spots aren’t a reflection of the sun exposure you had that day but what you’ve been exposed to over the years. So, sun protection is vital.

But I already have sunspots. How can I treat existing ones?

“Vitamin C, kojic acid, niacinamide, hydroquinone, azelaic acid and a variety of botanicals interfere with abnormal pigment production and can help lighten sunspots,” explains Zeichner. One of the most effective ways you can treat any type of pigmentation is with a vitamin C serum. The COSRX  Triple C Lightning Liquid is a powerful one to try. It’s formulated with 20.5% of pure ascorbic acid, the most effective form of vitamin C. This serum will quickly and effectively brighten the skin. It’ll lighten brown spots and acne scars, leaving your skin looking clear and fresh. If you want to amp its effects, you can combine it with the Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin E Mask. When used together, the vitamin E stabilizes the vitamin C and helps it to work even better.
The Acwell Anti Mark Gel Cream is another option. It contains niacinamide and licorice root to brighten brown spots and hydrate the skin. The addition of niacinamide will help to attack brown spots and lighten them overtime. This ingredient is an excellent brightening agent as it helps to slow down the transfer of melanin to your skin cells, therefore effectively preventing hyperpigmentation. With continued use, it will prevent the pigment before it can appear.
If you’re using the proper brightening products and nothing is working, don’t give up. Zeichner suggests contacting your dermatologist for “in-office procedures, like lasers and peels, to lighten them.”

Bottom Line

Sun spots are preventable. With constant sun protection, you can help to prevent them before they appear. But, if you already have, them make sure to amp up your sun protection and consider adding a vitamin C serum to your routine. It will help to give your skin a boost of antioxidants and lighten already-existing spots.

+ How do you prevent sunspots and treat them? Let us know in the comments below!

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