Dermatologist’s own personal tricks to control age spots, sun spots and uneven pigmentation.
The sun exposure we get on our skin early in life determines how many wrinkles and age spots we'll get as we age, and boy did I have a lot of sun exposure! Even if we sun protect our skin now, that early exposure can never be undone entirely. The fairer our skin, the more vulnerable we are to this early life sun exposure, and that’s my situation. I’m blond, fair skinned and had a lot of California sun exposure in the first 25 years of my life. This means that I’m really likely to develop a lot of brown liver spots and uneven pigmentation on my skin as I age. Because I’m a dermatologist I see and hear all the latest and greatest treatment options to even skin pigmentation, reverse sun damage and lighten liver spots (age spots). I’ve tried most of the age spot treatments and non invasive procedures, and have settled on an effective regimen that works well for me. I’m busy and don’t have a lot of time so I rely on products that I can use at home, plus a few quick treatments that I can do in the office. Here’s what do I personally do to keep my skin color even and prevent age spots :
- Sunscreen with zinc oxide every day on all non-covered parts of my skin. I’ve done this since I entered my dermatology training at the age of 28. For about the last 10 years, the products I use are Citrix on my face, neck and chest every day, and Solbar Zinc on my hands or on any exposed skin when I am going to be sweaty or in water while I am outdoors.
- Physical exfoliation. For my face I do this at least twice a week with either a Facial Buf Puf or the Replenix Scrub. Sometimes I have my aesthetician do a microdermabrasion treatment on my face for a quick glow. For the rest of my skin I use my Anti Aging Body Skin Care Kit.
- Retin A: since 1987 in fact. I slack off every now and then, but I use Retin A at least 3 times a week and usually more. I have all 3 strengths in my bed side table and mix and match according to my skin’s sensitivity. I love Retin A (tretinoin) big time and can’t emphasize enough how integral it is to include in your skin care regimen! It’s tricky to use and some people just can’t tolerate it, but it’s worth a try. Retin A is prescription so talk with your dermatologist about it.
- I used Obagi Nu Derm for 3 months in the spring when we started carrying it in the office. It worked great. My husband kept commenting on how radiant my skin looked. Obagi Nu Derm has hydroquinone prescription products in it to lighten brown uneven pigmentation. Because I only like hydroquinones used on a daily basis for a maximum of 3 or 4 months, this is an intermittent treatment in my office. I may decide to repeat the Obagi Nu Derm treatment on my face again this winter, we’ll see.
- Between the age of about 32 to 45 I used professional strength glycolic acid skin care products on my face every day. My favorites were the Glytone Mild Gel Wash Cleanser and Glytone Exfoliating Lotion. When I was about 45 I developed rosacea and seborrheic dermatitis and my skin would not tolerate the daily use of glycolic acid product so I had to rely on monthly peels in order to reap the benefits of glycolic acid on my skin. I still use glycolic acid products on the rest of my skin. I developed my Anti Aging Body Skin Care Kit for myself for my 40th birthday when I found a barnacle (age spot) on my arm. Since then, glycolic acid body skin care products combined with physical exfoliation (like you get with the Salux Cloth in the Anti Aging Body Skin Care Kit) has become more mainstream and popular.
- Glycolic acid peels: I’ve done these mini peels on myself every month or so for years. My skin is really sensitive and I do the peels carefully so that I don’t get irritated from the glycolic acid and have no redness or ‘down time’ ever. I’m biased and think that glycolic acid peels are best supervised by physicians because they are acid peels that can burn sensitive skin. There are spa level glycolic acid peels however and many aestheticians do them in their offices. Be careful if you have sensitive skin, dark skin or are prone to post inflammatory hyperpigmentation (healing from injuries by forming brown marks on your skin).
- IPL: I just bought the Sciton BBL in December of 2008 and I love it! I have to say that I think I finally got into laser/light technology because I turned 50 and discovered that I needed more age spot intervention than ever before. I love IPL on my skin! My freckles turned dark and fell off in a week after my first treatment. In addition my rosacea and facial seborrheic dermatitis also went away, my pores and skin texture look finer and my skin has been SO SOFT! I love IPL! I’ve had a treatment on my face once a month since the spring and love the results!
I’ve settled on a very manageable and not too expensive or time consuming set of products and procedures to treat my sun damaged skin and control my age spots (liver spots, sun freckles) and uneven pigmentation. There’s been a lot of advances in anti aging skin care during the almost 25 years that I’ve been in dermatology. Many of the advances are easy to work into a busy life; they improve both the look and the health of the skin and I’ve settled on the best and most effective options for my skin. I just had a birthday, and all in all, for 51 I think I’m holding my own!