Tips & Techniques, Wellness / Self-Care

What causes Sun Spots on Skin?

Fortunately, they are harmless.

words by: Natasha Marsh
Aug 18, 2022

Living in New York City is great once you get past the fact that for half a year, at any given time, it can be cold. For those in cities on the East Coast and colder climates, summer is a time for rebellion and overindulgence. If, like many of us, you tend to go overboard with the sun exposure during the season—we don’t blame you. We have all been there. Equally, overexposure to the sun could cause sun spots, small brown patches on the skin.


Sun spots, also known as liver spots or age spots, can occur on any skin type and any skin color. Fortunately, they are generally harmless, but in some cases, could be an indication of a deeper condition, like skin cancer. Because they can vary so much, we’re sharing tips below for when to tell if the sun spots are harmless or worth investigating.


Generally speaking, sun spots are a type of hyperpigmentation (when skin darkens in the form of dark spots) caused by UV damage. When the skin is exposed to the sun, the production of melanin (the pigment that colors the skin) increases. Some areas of the skin can develop clumps of melanin from rapid production — creating sun spots. In addition to your face, sun spots can appear on your hands, chest, shoulders and back of hands. When you look at them, they appear to be deep in the skin surface as they are flat instead of raised and tend to show in brown clusters.


How to prevent them

So how do you prevent sun spots? Good question. Like most skin conditions, the best preventative measure is developing sun safety habits. That means using sunscreen daily (make sure it’s at least SPF 30 to be effective) and wearing sun protection clothing, hats, sunglasses when the sun is extra strong.


When applying your sunscreen, give a generous amount to the areas that receive the most exposure: Back of hands, shoulders, and face. Although sun spots show up more on lighter complexions, it’s important that everyone wears the adequate amount of sunscreen everyday, as hard and tedious as it is to reapply.


How to treat them

If you currently have sun spots and want to treat them, you can opt for topicals with brightening ingredients like Vitamin C, retinoids, hydroquinone, and more. Over time, they will help brighten the skin and attempt to create an even skin tone. If this doesn’t work or you want a faster way out of sun spots, you can speak with your dermatologist for an in-office treatment. They will most likely recommend lasers or chemical peels.


Sun spots, like most forms of hyperpigmentation, can be treated. Here’s 3 ways to jump start that process.


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