5 Ways to Fade Age Spots at Home—and 2 from Your Doctor

Skin pros share their go-to methods for neutralizing age spots, the brown splotches that come from a lifetime of sun.

Use a vitamin C serum


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Vitamin C won’t magically erase age spots, but the vitamin’s powerful, antioxidant properties can quickly and safely even your complexion in other ways. (Stop wasting your money on expensive skin care products and try these 15 tricks for naturally glowing skin.) “Vitamin C is a potent skin brightener,” explains Peal Dworkin, a San Francisco Bay-based esthetician. “If used day and night with a sunblock during the day, a vitamin C serum will brighten your skin.” For a brighter complexion, check out these smart skin habits every dermatologist swears by.

Slather on sunscreen


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Once you see discoloration start to accumulate on your face, the damage to your skin has already been done, right? Not entirely. “Once you have sun spots, the melanin in that cell has been activated and will easily be re-activated with sun exposure,” Dworkin says. “If you don't use a sunblock, even the most powerful and expensive spot lighteners won’t work.” (But don't make these seven sunscreen mistakes you didn't realize you make every time you apply it.) Read the labels carefully to ensure that you’re using a formula with the physical blockers titanium and/or zinc, which are more effective than chemical blockers. And don’t forget the hat and sunglasses for extra protection. Here's what those confusing labels on your sunscreen actually mean.

Look for niacinamide


A cream or serum containing niacinamide can lighten age spots without breaking the bank, according to board-certified plastic surgeon Anthony Youn, MD. “Over-the-counter creams or serums containing niacinamide are an inexpensive way to reduce spots,” Dr. Youn says. “Niacinamide is a well-tolerated ingredient that can start to show results within six to eight weeks of treatment.” Undo even skin pigmentation with this dermatologist trick.

Try a natural extract


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If chemical-laden serums and creams aren’t your thing for age spot removal, consider a more natural treatment, such as licorice extract, which is sold as an herbal supplement. Dr. Youn recommends applying licorice root extract as an age spot treatment to the face twice a day. “Within two months, you should see some lightening of the spots,” he says. (Make these eight natural recipes for amazing skin cooked up by a plastic surgeon!)

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Exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate


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The easiest way to fade age spots fast is by exfoliating the skin, and alpha hydroxy acids such as glycolic acid and lactic acid are incredibly effective, according to North California-based dermatologist Cynthia Bailey, MD. (Avoid these 10 exfoliating mistakes or risk sabotaging your beautiful skin.) She recommends using a Japanese nylon cloth called a Salux, for best results. “Apply the cream right after the shower to immensely lighten the pigment and remove dead cells,” Bailey says. Try Glytone, a glycolic acid formula, or AmLactin, which contains lactic acid. These skin serums may be the answer to all your pesky skin problems.

Go prescription strength


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While drugstore products can make a difference in your sunspots (every skin care routine needs these 20 dermatologist-approved drug store products), you’ll need to see your dermatologist for more serious fading action. Ben Behnam, MD, a Santa Monica dermatologist, recommends prescription creams such as those containing hydroquinone, a topical bleaching agent. Ask about Glytone Skin Lightening Cream, available by prescription, with 4% hydroquinone. This is a dermatologist's secret to layering on multiple skin products without wreaking havoc on your face.

Consider a peel or laser


If you’re looking for dramatic results, talk with your dermatologist about a chemical peel or laser treatment, such as BBL (broad band light), which targets excess brown and red pigmentation in the skin. Unfortunately, although both can reduce age spots significantly, notes Dr. Behnam, they do tend to come back over time, especially if you’re inconsistent with sunblock. These are the best face masks for every type of skin.

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