4 Ways to Reduce the Appearance of Sun Spots

May 7th 2016

Sun spots are usually not a reason to worry. Most are non-cancerous, painless and stable. The dark, splotchy appearance of these blemishes, on the other hand, is not always attractive. Before you try any type of sun spot treatment, consult a doctor for a professional opinion and discuss your options. Schedule an annual appointment with your dermatologist, especially if you spend a great deal of time in the sun or have a history of sun spots.

Skin Whitening

Hydroquinone inhibits the production of melanin to diminish brown spots and lighten skin tone. Skin products with hydroquinone are available over the counter and by prescription, and they are typically very effective treatment options. However, hydroquinone is extremely harsh and is not safe for every skin type. Vitamin C, licorice extract, kojic acid and mulberry are natural alternatives that provide similar but less dramatic results without the skin irritation.

Chemical Peels

A chemical peel may be applied in a doctor's office or med spa, or at home using an over-the-counter product. Most peels contain trichloroacetic and glycolic acids, along with exfoliating agents to remove dead layers of skin. The chemicals cause a minor abrasion to the skin's surface, which stimulates a healing response that eliminates the dark pigmentation. Typical sun spots require multiple treatments, usually about three or four sessions. Periodic peels may be necessary once or twice a year to maintain the appearance.

Photo Facials

Dermatologists and med spas offer a variety of laser and light therapy techniques. This treatment option works well on new and well-established sun spots, but the number of sessions needed depends on the size and severity of the blemishes. A photo facial is a highly effective way to get rid of sun spots as long as the procedure is performed correctly, and it is the best option to treat severe discoloration. You can expect full recovery within five days.


Retinol is one of the least invasive methods used to get rid of sun spots. This vitamin A derivative is known for its assortment of anti-aging benefits, such as reducing wrinkles, but it also helps the body maintain balanced pigmentation. Retinol creams are widely available over the counter, but effectiveness may vary depending on the brand. Prescription retinoids are another option, and they are generally much stronger than retinol products. Retinol does not lighten or remove the pigmentation of a sun spot. Instead, it smoothes and brightens the skin to achieve a radiant, even complexion that makes sun spots less noticeable.

Sun Spot Prevention

Even with effective treatment, diminished sun spots may reappear with prolonged sun exposure and they are often accompanied by new spots. Prevention is a crucial step if you want to get rid of sun spots for good. Limit the amount of time you spend in the sun, especially when ultraviolet rays are at their highest. Always wear an SPF 30 or higher sunscreen. Large-brimmed hats and long sleeves offer additional protection in extremely sunny conditions.


Sun spots, also called age spots, liver spots and freckles, usually appear after prolonged sun exposure and they become increasingly common as you grow older. Some sun spots are large and unsightly, while others are light and hardly noticeable. Regardless of size and color, sun spots can cause an uneven, blotchy complexion, and can add several years to your appearance. There are several treatment options to eliminate or fade sun spots, depending on your skin type.

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