Do you have dark brown spots that don’t seem to fade with time?
Have you tried multiple skin care products to lighten your dark brown spots with no success?
One of our readers asked recently how to remove or lighten their dark brown spots. During the summertime, often we see an increase or darkening of brown spots due to sun damage. There are a few tricks to help lighten your brown spots (not moles), as well as prevent them from forming! For this week’s “Find it Again Friday” we will revisit Dr. Bailey’s blog on How Do You Get Rid of Brown Spots on the Skin?
But first, it is always essential to understand the causes of brown spots on your skin.
The Common Causes of Brown Spots
Solar Lentigos: liver spots or freckles that result from sun damage.
Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation: marks or scars from skin injuries - pimples, bug bites, etc.
Melasma – aka “mask of pregnancy,” but can occur when not pregnant.
Generally it is tough to correct acquired brown spots, which is why Dr. Bailey stresses prevention. Brown spots will only increase with age, which is why it is imperative to start preventing them now. Below are the best prevention methods to reduce the development of these pesky skin imperfections.
How to Prevent the Development of Brown Spots
Sun exposure always darkens the pigmentation of your brown spots. As Dr. Bailey states:
This means that the most important step in preventing brown spots on your skin is using good sun protection every day, even for window sun.
The best sun protection is broad spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Dr. Bailey prefers sunscreens with physical blockers, especially sunscreens with at least 5% zinc oxide.
Dr. Bailey’s Favorite Sunscreens
- For everyday use on face, neck, and chest (one Dr. Bailey has used for years): Citrix Sunscreen
- An affordable and water-resistant body sunscreen: Solbar Zinc Sunscreen
- Because these are Dr. Bailey’s favorite sunscreens, she has put them together in her Sun Savvy Daily Wear Sun Protection Kit.
Not only is sunscreen important for good sun protection, but sun protective clothing, hats, and sunglasses are also vital. Shade also provides relief from sun exposure. Read Dr. Bailey’s in depth post for even more sun protection tips: 5 Steps for Smart Sun Protection.
How to Lighten Your Brown Spots
In terms of treatment, lightening agents will help reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation. Glycolic acid skin care products are the simplest method Dr. Bailey uses in her practice. Derived from fruits, glycolic acid functions best at 10% concentration or more (acid-free value). Glycolic acids can be used in variety of forms: washes, moisturizers, serums, etc. Over time, glycolic acid products will slowly lighten your dark brown spots and uneven complexion.
If you are looking for glycolic acid products for your face, click here to find glycolic acid products tailored to your skin type and other needs.
If you are looking for glycolic acid products for your body, check out Dr. Bailey’s Anti-Aging Body Skin Care Kit that combines chemical (glycolic acid wash and moisturizer) with physical exfoliation (buffing cloth).
Hydroquinone Bleaching Products: In Dr. Bailey’s experience, the 4% prescription works far better than the over-the-counter 2% version. She will also combine this with glycolic acid or/and tretinoin.
- Tretinoin (Prescription retinoid): Combine with hydroquinone to help the bleaching agents penetrate the skin deeper.
Obagi Nu Derm is a prescription skin care line that combines these elements with excellent results: hydroquinone and tretinoin, glycolic acid’s “cousin.” If you want to learn more about the Obagi Nu Derm System read Dr. Bailey’s informative post on Obagi Skin Care Products.
IPL/BBL treatments (laser) are another option for treating dark brown spots, depending on the root cause. These are treatments Dr. Bailey uses in her office regularly for these skin issues. If you are local to Sonoma County, click here to learn more about our laser services or to book an appointment.
Dr. Bailey also cautions, if you are considering prescription products or cosmetic procedures to lighten your brown spots, always consult your local dermatologist to see if these are the right options for your skin.
Final Thoughts on Brown Spots Prevention and Treatment
Although treatments do exist to treat dark brown spots and hyperpigmentation, always consider preventing brown spots first. Some skin lightening treatments are costly; prevention will not only save your skin but your wallet as well. Also if the dark brown spots are a result of sun damage, you are exposing yourself to other health issues as well.
To read Dr Bailey’s original in-depth article on how to lighten dark brown spots, click here.
If you have found these brown spots treatment and prevention tips helpful, please show your thanks by commenting on, sharing, “liking,” Google+, tweeting, and “pinning,” using the social sharing buttons above and below this blog post with friends and family.
Sincerely, Dr. Bailey Skin Care Team
Photo attribution: Thanks and gratitude to © Doable/amanaimages/Corbis