The sun seems so harmless, doesn’t it? It invites us out of our cozy homes with its warmth and light, promising us hours of carefree fun. What it never mentions is the price we pay for that: premature wrinkles and sun spots.
They appear so quickly on our skin when we spend so much time outdoors without sunscreen. So, pile it on! But what if a few sun spots have already found their way on your face?
Fret not. It’s tough to remove sun spots completely, but the right skincare routine can make them look much lighter:
Morning Skincare Routine
Step 1: Cleanser
Cleansing skin is the most boring part of any skincare regimen, isn’t it? But it must be done. If we don’t get rid of all the dirt that sneakily accumulates on our skin, our skincare products won’t be able to penetrate as deeply into it, and work as well as they could.
Good news is, there’s no need to spend a lot of money on a cleanser. Anti-ageing cleansers, exfoliating cleansers… they sound amazing, but truth is, they don’t work as promised. Antioxidants and exfoliants need to be on the skin for hours to work. Rinse off your cleanser after a couple of minutes, and you’ll remove all the goodies it contains too. What a waste!
- Boots Expert Sensitive Gentle Cleansing Lotion ($4.69): it’s a liquid cold cream that quickly removes all impurities and traces of makeup.
- Olay Foaming Face Wash For Sensitive Skin ($4.99): a simple, basic cleanser that gets the job done without breaking the bank.
- Liz Earle Hot Cloth Cleanser(£14.00): it thoroughly cleanses and exfoliates skin without drying it out.
Step 2: CEF Serum
No, I’ve not gone crazy. CEF stands for vitamin C and E, and ferulic acid. They’re all powerful antioxidants when used on their own. Together, they boost one another’s effectiveness, and do wonders for the skin.
There’s more. Vitamin C protects skin from UVA damage. Vitamin E protects from UVB rays. Together, they’re the perfect combination. Then, add 1% ferulic acid to a cream with 15% vitamin C and 1% vitamin E, and you double photoprotection!
- SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic ($162.00):the first product to introduce this awesome combination on the market, it’s outrageously expensive, but works like a charm.
- Paula’s Choice Resist C15 Super Booster ($48.00): very similar to Skinceuticals CE Ferulic, it does the job at a fraction of the cost.
Step 3: Hydroquinone Cream
Love it or hate it, hydroquinone is still the best treatment for sun spots. It works in two ways. It inhibits the activity of tyrosinase (the enzyme that controls the synthesis of melanin), and increases the cytotoxicity of melanocytes (cells that produce melanin).
But isn’t it dangerous? Well, hydroquinone can irritate skin and cause, in some rare cases, ochronosis (a bluish black discolouration). But it doesn’t cause cancer. The rumour started spreading because in super high doses, it made rats ill. But in the small amounts used in cosmetics, it’s safe.
Hydroquinone should be used in four months cicles. That means that after four months, you should switch to another skin-lightener, like kojic acid or azelaic acid. Use that for four more months, and then return to hydroquinone. And back and forth again.
- Paula’s Choice Skincare Resist Triple-Action Dark Spot Eraser 7% AHA Lotion ($25.00): this multitasker contains hydroquinone to treat dark spots; glycolic acid to exfoliate; and a bunch of antioxidants to fights wrinkles.
- Peter Thomas Roth De-Spot Plus ($75.00): infused with hydroquinone and antioxidants, it helps fight signs of ageing, like dark spots and wrinkles.
Step 4: Sunscreen
You can religiously use the best sun spot busters every day, but if you insist on leaving the house without sunscreen, they’ll just keep coming back!
The best way to avoid that is to use a mineral sunscreen with zinc oxide. Yes, yes, it does leave a ghostly white cast on the skin, but it protects against both UVA and UVB rays and doesn’t cause irritations. That white cast is a small price to pay for that, isn’t it?
- Sunumbra Sunkids SPF 40 ($29.90): infused with antioxidants, it is tinted, so it does’t leave a white cast behind.
- MDSolarSciences Mineral Creme Broad Spectrum SPF 50 UVA-UVB Sunscreen ($30.00): enriched with antioxidants, it is water-resistant for up to 80 minutes!
- Kate Somerville Daily Deflector Waterlight Broad Spectrum 50+ PA+++ Anti-Aging Sunscreen ($48.00): its lightweight texture makes it a great option for oily skin.
Night Skincare routine
Step 1: Cleanse skin
We’ve already covered this, so I won’t bore you again. I’ll just tell you that you can safely use your morning cleanser at night too, unless it’s not powerful enough to remove every last trace of makeup. You want those skin-lightening products to penetrate deep into the skin, so cleanse it well!
Step 2A: Glycolic acid
I know I sound like a broken record when I talk about glycolic acid, but it really is a godsend for sun-damaged skin. A member of the AHAs family, glycolic acid has a very small molecular structure that allows it to easily penetrate skin and do its magic.
Glycolic acid dissolves the “glue” that holds skin cells together, allowing them to slough off. Those skin cells on the surface are old, dull, and dark. Remove them, and your skin will appear smoother, brighter, and more even-toned.
Exciting, isn’t it? But don’t overdo it! Glycolic acid can irritate skin when used too often or in high amounts. Start using a small concentration three times a week, and increase both frequency and dose slowly.
- Paula’s Choice Resist Daily Smoothing Treatment with 5% AHA ($25.50): it features 5% glycolic acid, 0.50% of pore-penetrating salicylic acid, and a bunch of antioxidants to fight premature ageing, sun spots, and excess oil.
- Derma E Overnight Peel With Alpha Hydroxy Acids ($16.95): thanks to glycolic acid, it makes skin brighter and smoother.
- Peter Thomas Roth Glycolic Acid Moisturizer ($45.00): it releases glycolic acid slowly into your skin over several hours, rather than all at once, so it won’t irritate it.
Step 2B: Retinol Serum
Glycolic acid and retinol are incredibly powerful. Too powerful to be used together, imo (at least, if you have sensitive skin). That’s why I like to alternate them. I’ll use glycolic acid one night and retinol the next.
What does retinol do? It reduces the appearance of dark spots, fine lines and wrinkles, boosts collagen production, and destroys the free radicals that cause wrinkles. No wonder dermatologists consider it the gold standard to treat premature ageing.
Like glycolic acid, retinol too can be irritating when used too often or in high amounts. So, again, increase frequency and dose gradually.
- Paula’s Choice Skincare Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment ($55.00): in addition to 1% retinol, it also contains antioxidant vitamin c, and a bunch of soothing ingredients, to help you reap its anti-ageing benefits without the side effects.
- SkinMedica Retinol Complex 1.0 ($90.00): it’s infused with niacinamide, another ingredient that can lighten sun spots.
- Murad Time Release Retinol Concentrate for Deep Wrinkles ($65.00): a gentle formula that releases retinol slowly. That makes it suitable for sensitive skin too.
Step 3: Moisturizer
It’s time for the last step: moisturizer. Choose one infused with antioxidants to help keep wrinkles at bay for longer. But make sure it’s packaged in an air-tight, opaque tube, or they won’t be effective for long!
- Paula’s Choice Skincare Hydralight Moisture-Infusing Lotion ($28.00): enriched with a bunch of wrinkle-fighting antioxidants, it has a lightweight texture that makes it ideal for oily skin.
- Arbonne Calm Gentle Daily Moisturizer ($36.00): moisturizing and soothing, it’s perfect for dry and sensitive skin types.
The Bottom Line
With the right skincare routine and products, you can get rid of dark spots and achieve the brighter, smoother skin you deserve!
How do you remove sun spots?