Yes, you can erase signs of sun damage and sunspots on skin (everywhere on your body, in fact).
As a former Florida resident (I still have a Florida driver’s license to remind me of all the sunshine and palm trees, by the way), I’ll be the first to tell you that sun exposure is just a fact of life in the south — walking to our cars, playing as children, long days outdoors — it all adds up to years of sun damage and eventually sunspots on skin by the time we hit out 30s and beyond.
“Sun damage starts as soon as you are exposed to the sunlight UV radiation,” explains Stewart Wang, MD, FACS, medical director of Wang Plastic Surgery in Los Angeles. “It takes repetitive and prolonged exposure for skin damage to appear. The skin damage may not become visible until decades later. The best way to prevent it is using physical barriers like clothing, hat, sunglasses, etc. or chemical barriers, like sunscreen.”
Not everyone (myself included) is as thoughtful during the ‘tanner is better’ high school years, and at some point you wake up at 32 (I mean, I do anyway) wondering exactly how to get rid of those pesky little hyper pigmented sunspots on skin around the eyes, cheeks, nose bridge, chest, and shoulders.
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“We are seeing an increase in sun-damaged skin along with skin cancer with our patient population. We are seeing a generation of people who poured baby oil while sun tanning when they were younger. sun damaged skin generally fares worse than well-preserved skin when it comes longevity of beauty and even results from cosmetic surgery.”
You heard the man. Even if you plunk down a ton of cash of top of the line plastic surgery, your sun damage could mess with your body’s ability to maintain your newly purchased beauty. Life is so unfair, isn’t it? But Dr. Wang says it is, indeed, possible to erase and even reverse some signs of sun damage and perhaps more easily, sunspots on skin.
“We are using both laser and non-laser treatments to reverse sun damage on skin. There are numerous options available and treatment depends the patient’s skin type, time frame and budget. There are several chemical peels that can correct and reduce sun damaged skin. They come with different combination of ingredients and strength to allow for customization based on patient needs and recovery. We are also performing microneedling therapy to help rebuild the skin. The cost varies from few hundred dollars to several thousands of dollars depending the treatment packages. Typically the microneedling therapy and chemical peel costs in the hundreds and laser treatments are in the thousands.”
While lasers like Fraxel can be painful and expensive, Dr. Wang suggests easier, DIY methods to gradually reverse signs of accumulated sun damage at home. He suggests using over the counter sunscreen daily to combat further damage, and then finding a product high in vitamin A (retinol or retinoids), high concentrations of vitamin C (20% active or better), or Hydroquinone (specially to deal with patches sunspots on skin).
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Unraveling the seemingly endless supply of skincare products to erase the signs of sun damage can be daunting, though, with some being essentially useless and others being as good as tiny skincare fairies that make you forget life before using them.
Here are some to try from the various categories:
Retinoids. BioRewind by Demarche Labs, available at Sephora. “Demarche Labs has developed a cutting edge skin care regimen to protect your skin, repair damage, and reverse time. BioRewind PM, which I fondly call BioREPAIR, is a strong anti-aging treatment based on a new formulation of vitamin A/Retinol that causes less irritation and dryness to the skin while stimulating new collagen formation, decreasing pore size, and softening the appearance of fine lines,” shares ASAPS member plastic surgeon, Ulysses Scarpidis.
Kojic acid and Hydroquinone. Glytone Dark Spot Corrector has 2% Hydroquinone to gradually ‘bleach’ sunspots on skin and 1% Kojic Acid as well as Glycolic Acid. The formula helps reduce the appearance of dark discolorations on the skin by way of gradual lightening and exfoliation. I’ve personally tried this line and love it.
A gentle cocktail of vitamins. Patyka Huile Absolue is an easy to use lightweight face oil-meets-serum that’s packed with natural retinoids, omega acids, and vitamin C to encourage cell turnover and gentle bleaching. This is a good one for people with very mild damage who are looking to change their sun worshipping ways and put their best face forward.
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