What are the best treatments for sun spots?
The one that works best for you. I know it’s a crappy answer – but it’s honest, too. There’s a reason why there are a dozen skin-lightening ingredients out there – and more are being discovered every year.
Sun spots are tricky to treat. Azelaic acid may work wonders for your BFF and not make the slightest dent in your sun spots. You may swear by Alpha Arbutin, but your mum complains it’s not working for her – at all.
This is a case where it’s worth experimenting to find out what works for you. But, there are some sun spots treatments that work better than others – and have the science to back them up.
Here are the best sun spots treatments to try first. Take your pick!
NOTE: Even the best sun spots treatments work slowly. You should see a small improvement within one month, but wait at least 3 before deciding if the product works for you.
Best On A Budget: The Ordinary Ascorbic Acid 8% + Alpha Arbutin 2% (£10.00)
Don’t let the price fool you: The Ordinary Ascorbic Acid 8% + Alpha Arbutin 2% uses two very powerful skin-lighteners. Alpha Arbutin works by releasing hydroquinone, the gold standard for hyperpigmentation. It reduces the skin’s melanin (pigmentation) production and blocks the activity of Tyrosinase (the enzymes that triggers it). But it’s much gentler than hydroquinone and better tolerated by all skin types. Ascorbic Acid is the pure form of Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that boosts collagen, fights free radicals and brightens the skintone. Together, they tackle both premature aging and sun spots.
Available at: Asos, Beauty Bay, Cult Beauty, Escentual, Feel Unique, Sephora, and Ulta
Related: The Complete Guide To Vitamin C In Skincare
Best For Acne-Prone Skin: Paula’s Choice 10% Azelaic Acid Booster ($36.00)
Azelaic acid is a godsend for acne-prone skin. To start with, it has anti-inflammatory properties that reduce redness and inflammation. Guess what acne is? An inflammatory disease! Plus, itt treats mild to moderate forms of acne. It’s a good alternative to both benzoyl peroxide and tretinoin – and way gentler on the skin. Like that weren’t enough, it fades away dark spots and brightens the complexion. Paula’s Choice 10% Azelaic Booster pairs it with salicylic acid, an oil-soluble antioxidant that gets inside the pores and exfoliates them from within. Bye, bye acne!
Available at: Cult Beauty, Dermstore, Feel Unique, Net-A-Porter, Nordstrom, and Paula’s Choice
Related: Why Salicylic Acid Is Key To Spot-Free Skin
Best Multitasking Treatment For Sun Spots: Skinceuticals Discoloration Defense ($98.00)
Not sure which skin-lightening ingredient to try first to fade away dark spots? Skinceuticals Discoloration Defense combines four: 3% Tranexemic Acid to break down proteins that lead to melanin production; 1% Kojic Acid to inhibits the activity of tyrosinase, the enzyme that’s responsible for the production of melanin; 5% Niacinamide to brighten skin and reduce sallowness; and 5% HEPES to speed up cellular turnover (the skin’s natural exfoliating process). Because, why not throw everything at those pesky dark spots?
Available at: Blue Mercury and Dermstore
Related: The Battle Of The Skin-Lighteners: Which Is The Best Alternative To Hydroquinone?
Best Innovative Sun Spots Treatment: SkinMedica Lytera 2.0 Pigment Correcting Serum ($154.00)
If you can stomach the price, SkinMedica Lytera 2.0 Pigment Correcting Serum is a powerful skin-lightening cocktail. The star of the show is niacinamide, a form of Vitamin B3 that can fade away dark spots… and fight wrinkles, hydrate skin, treat acne, soothe irritation… You can’t go wrong with it. Plus, the serum contains two novel skin-lighteners: Tranexemic Acid breaks down proteins that contribute to melanin production while Phenylethyl Resorcinol inhibits tyrosinase, the enzyme involved in melanin production.
P.S. The serum also has a sprinkle of antioxidants to help you fight premature aging, too.
Available at: Dermstore
Related: The Complete Guide To Niacinamide: What It Is, What It Does, And How It Works
Best Treatment For Very Stubborn Sun Spots: Paula’s Choice Resist Triple-Action Dark Spot Eraser 7% AHA Lotion ($29.00)
When all else fails, turn to Hydroquinone. It’s so harsh, it’s often available by prescription only. If you can get it OTC, go with Paula’s Choice Resist Triple-Action Dark Spot Eraser 7% AHA Lotion. It has 2% hydroquinone, a powerful skin-lightener that fades away dark spots in two ways: it inhibits the activity of tyrosinase (the enzyme that controls the synthesis of melanin) and increases the cytotoxicity of melanocytes (it kills the cells that produce melanin).
Contrary to popular opinion, it doesn’t cause cancer. But it can cause ochronosis (a bluish discolouration) in people with darker skin tones. It’s also harsh and irritating, so use it in 4 months cycles only (4 months hydroquinone, 4 months another skin-lightener). The lotion also contains 7% glycolic acid, an exfoliant that removes the superficial, damaged layers of skin to fade away dark spots even faster. It even has a sprinkle of anti-inflammatory ingredients, like bisabolol, to help skin better tolerate the powerful formula. Paula has really thought of everything!
Available at: Dermstore, Nordstrom, and Paula’s Choice
Related: Is Hydroquinone Really Bad For Skin?
What do you think are the best sun spots treatments? Share your picks in the comments below.