How to Treat and Prevent Age Spots
Age spots, or liver spots, are flat areas of brown pigment that often occur on the backs of the hands. The best way to prevent them – and to protect yourself from skin cancer, too – is by using plenty of sunscreen
Treating Age Spots
If it’s too late and you already have age spots, look for an over-the-counter fading cream or apply a simple, natural bleaching agent. Bear in mind that it can take several months to see an improvement. And from now on, make sure you never leave the house without proper sun protection.
- Over-the-counter stain-lightening creams such as Superfade contain a dilute amount of bleaching agents such as hydroquinone and hydrogen peroxide. (Darker spots may need a stronger solution.) Before you use skin-lightening products, carefully read the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Apply the juice of a lemon to the spots at least twice a day. Lemon juice is mildly acidic and may be strong enough to take off the skin’s outer layer and remove or lighten age spots.
- Blend honey and yogurt to create a natural bleach that can lighten age spots. Mix together 1 teaspoon of plain yogurt and 1 teaspoon of honey. Apply, allow to dry for 30 minutes, then rinse. Do this once a day.
- Coat your spots with aloe vera gel, taken straight from the leaves of a living plant (shown at right), if possible. Cut the leaf and squeeze it to extract the gel. The plant contains chemicals that slough away dead cells and encourage the growth of new, healthy ones. Apply the gel once or twice a day.
- A remedy for removing age spots is to wipe them with buttermilk. This contains lactic acid, which gently exfoliates sun-damaged skin and pigmented areas.
- Mix a little bicarbonate of soda with enough of a 50:50 solution of hydrogen peroxide (available from pharmacies and some supermarkets) and water to form a gritty paste. Dab onto age spots, allow to dry, then rinse off and pat skin dry.
- Strawberries make a gentle, effective treatment mask for fading age spots and lightening freckles. Mash 1-2 fresh strawberries and mix with 2 teaspoons of cream to make a sloppy paste. Apply mixture to clean skin, leave for 15 minutes, then remove with a warm, damp face washer and pat dry.
How to Cover Age Spots
- Camouflage age spots with a cosmetic concealer – sold in department stores and pharmacies. Some are enriched with oils to moisturise your skin as well. Ask a sales assistant to help you find the right shade for your skin – usually slightly lighter than your own skin tone – and then show you how to apply it.
Prevent Age Spots
- Avoid the sun as much as possible during peak hours – from 10am to 4pm in summer or in hot climates, and from 10am to 2pm for the rest of the year.
- Every day, 30 minutes before you go outside, apply sunscreen to your face and the backs of your hands. Make sure it has a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. The most effective sunscreens for guarding against age spots contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. If you are going to be outdoors for any length of time, reapply every 2 hours.
- Wear a sunhat with a wide brim of at least 10 cm. This will keep the sun off your face and neck and help to stop age spots from developing in those areas. Choose a hat with a cotton lining – woven straw hats don’t provide much protection.
- After you’ve been out in the sun, apply some vitamin E oil. Vitamin E is an anti-oxidant and may help to prevent age spots by neutralising skin-damaging free-radical molecules.