Age spots, also called solar lentigines and lentigo senilis, are dark coloured areas of the skin usually seen in exposed parts of the body like the face, hands, shoulders and arms. They are very common in older adults and usually start appearing in your forties and fifties.
Age spots are strongly related to chronic sun exposure which leads to photodamage (damage caused to skin and DNA as a result of prolonged exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays) and an increased risk for skin cancer.
What causes age spots? Age spots are caused by overactive melanin cells. Melanin cells are pigment cells that are present in your skin, hair and eyes. Melanin is what gives skin its colour and it helps protect the skin from damage caused by UV rays.
However, chronic exposure to the sun can cause the melanin cells to become hyperactive and produce more pigment leading to dark spots and pigmentation.
How to prevent age spots
So how to remove ages spots naturally? The best way to prevent and reduce appearance of age spots is to reduce sun exposure.
- Avoid sun exposure between 11am to 2pm – The sun’s rays are most intense during this period. Try to avoid outdoor activities during time of the day.
- Use Broad-spectrum Sunscreen – Broad-spectrum sunscreens protect the skin from both UVA and UVB rays. Apply sunscreen about 30 minutes before going outdoors. If you sweat a lot, you may need to re-apply sunscreen every 2 hours or so.
- Cover sun exposed areas – Wear clothing that covers your arms and legs to reduce exposure to the sun’s rays. Wearing a cap or hat will help you protect your face from direct exposure to UV rays. Using an umbrella will also help reduce sun exposure.
Natural Face Masks to Reduce Age Spots and Pigmentation
No matter how hard you try, you may not be able to prevent exposure to the sun, especially if you live in tropical and equatorial climates. Using natural skin care ingredients may help to reduce age spots but please remember that since age spots occur as a result of sun exposure over many years, it may take many months to reduce and remove them.
- Lemon Juice
Lemon juice contains citric acid and Vitamin C which are natural bleaching agents that help lighten age spots when applied regularly.
Squeeze out lemon juice and mix it with equal parts water. Now use a cotton ball to apply the juice on the spots. Leave on for 15-20 minutes and then rinse off with water. Do this a few times a week and you should start seeing results in 2 months or so.
It is preferable to use lemon juice during the evening/night as lemon juice can sensitise the skin and make it more prone to sunburn. Also, keep in mind excessive use of lemon juice can cause the skin to peel.
If you have sensitive skin, lemon juice may be too harsh and cause increased sensitivity, so I would suggest that you stay away from it.
Papaya is rich in alpha hydroxy acid and the enzyme, papain, which help exfoliate the skin and reduce the appearance of age spots, blemishes and other skin problems. The exfoliating property of papaya helps reveal clear and brighter skin.
Mash some ripe papaya and apply directly to the skin. Wait for 15-20 minutes and then rinse off.
Note – Many people have sensitivity to papaya, so do a 24-hour patch test before applying it.
Yoghurt (dahi) and buttermilk contain lactic acid which helps remove dead skin cells. Once the discoloured skin cells slough off, fresh healthy skin underneath is revealed.
Apply yoghurt/buttermilk on the spots and let dry for 15-20 minutes. Once dry, rinse off with lukewarm water. This mask is very mild so you can apply it daily.
You can also mix mashed papaya and yoghurt and apply it as a mask 2-3 times a week. Wait till it dries and then rinse off with water.
- Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera is a common but potent skin care ingredient that helps maintain healthy skin and reduce age spots and pigmentation.
If you have an aloe vera plant, cut a small part of the leaf and apply the gel directly to the skin. If you don’t have a plant, you can use aloe vera juice or gel available in the markets.
You do not need to rinse the mask off as it is very gentle to the skin.
Potatoes are rich in starch and sugar which can exfoliate the skin and boost growth of new skin cells. Vitamins and minerals in potato include Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, potassium, zinc, phosphorus which help rejuvenate collagen and increase new skin cell turnover.
Just slice a potato and rub it all over your face and leave it on for 15-20 minutes. Rinse off with water. If you are feeling adventurous, you can grate a potato, squeeze out the juice and mix it with yoghurt and apply to your skin. Let dry for 15-20 minutes and then rinse off.
Used since ancient times to bring glow and radiance to the skin, sandalwood is a traditional Indian beauty secret believed to have powerful anti-aging properties and is traditionally used to improve the complexion and radiance, even out skin tone, and reduce skin discolouration and age spots.
Mix ¼ tablespoon sandalwood powder with a couple of drops each of rose water, honey and lemon juice. Apply this paste onto the age spots and leave to dry for 20 minutes before rinsing off with cold water.
If you are lazy (like me 😊), then you can just mix sandalwood powder and water and apply on your face. Let dry for 20 minutes and then rinse off with cold water.
Onion contains sulphur and acids that help with exfoliation of the skin. Try this only if you can handle the smell!
Slice up an onion and rub directly on the skin. Or grate an onion and squeeze out the juice and apply on the skin. Wait for 15-20 minutes and then rinse off. Regular application will help reduce appearance of age spots and can also reduce acne and other skin conditions.
Ingredients you should look for in your skin care products to prevent Age Spots
Prevention is the best way to keep age spots at bay, because, once they appear, they take a long time to disappear completely. Using skin care products that contain ingredients that provide protection from the damaging effects of the sun’s UV rays is the best way to ward off age spots. Regular application of skin care products containing vitamins and antioxidants may be of the utmost benefit in efficiently preparing our skin against external oxidative stressors occurring during daily life.
The ingredients you should look out for include:
Studies have shown that Vitamin C can help prevent and reduce UV-induced photodamage. Because of its antioxidant and free-radical fighting properties, Vitamin C helps reduce and protect from the photodamage caused by exposure to the sun’s UV rays.
Not only that but Vitamin C also stimulates collagen production which helps prevent and reduce signs of aging such as fine lines and wrinkles and improve skin radiance and hydration.
Vitamin E is a powerful vitamin that can protect from the damaging effects of UV rays. Its antioxidant property exerts a protective effect that limits the damage caused to the skin. If your skin has been exposed to UV rays, applying Vitamin E can reduce some late effects of UV rays such as wrinkles and pigmentation.
Studies show that Vitamin E is required for optimal photoprotection and products that combine sunscreen with Vitamin E provides greater protection from ultraviolet ray induced photodamage.
Skin Tip: Vitamin C and Vitamin E work the best when they are combined together. So always look for products that contain both these vitamins.
Tretinoin, a type of Vitamin A, typically used for treatment of acne, has consistently shown to improve photodamaged skin. It improves collagen production and distribution of melanin. Tretinoin works by accelerating the turnover of skin cells and suppressing the cells that produce melanin.
However, tretinoin has possible side effects like redness, dryness, irritation, itchiness, burning, and peeling. These side effects usually subside after a few weeks.
There is some evidence that taking tretinoin orally can harm the foetus. However, it is not known if applying tretinoin on the skin has any effects on developing human foetus so because of the potential risks, women should not use it during pregnancy, lactation or when trying to conceive.
**Please note that tretinoin should only be used under the advice of a doctor.
- Antioxidants and Botanicals
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)
With age, the levels of Coenzyme Q10 (an antioxidant found in all cells) decrease and this leads to increased photodamage caused by UV rays. Applying Coenzyme Q10 on skin increases its level in the cells which helps prevent damage caused by ultraviolet light. Coenzyme Q10 also reduces the depth of wrinkles and the breakdown of collagen.
Lycopene, a potent carotenoid antioxidant found in tomato, works from within to reduce the damage and inflammation caused UV rays. When the skin is exposed to UV rays, the level of lycopene decreases and leads to increased photodamage. Applying lycopene-containing products can improve photoprotection and slow down DNA damage and inflammation.
In addition to the ingredients mentioned above, green tea, resveratrol, fern and tamarind extract also exert a protective effect on the damage caused by UV rays.
To sum it all up, age spots are an indication of the damage caused over time by exposure to the sun’s UV rays and protecting the skin by including sunscreen, vitamin and antioxidant-rich products is the first line of defence in the prevention of signs of aging like age spots, pigmentation, fine lines and wrinkles
Lastly, one of the things that can help you curb age spots is our very own isaku brand which is non-toxic, paraben free, cruelty free and works for all skin types. Crafted after years of research and pains of labour, we bring you the most natural healing abilities for your skin. Do try our products and let us know what you think.