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How to fade sunspots on your face: what works and what doesn’t

MoleMap Team
August 20, 2023
8 minutes

Learn about the most effective treatments for facial sunspots and discover why some treatments may not give you the results you’re hoping for.

Like fore­head wrin­kles and laugh­ter lines, sunspots on the face are sim­ply part of the nat­ur­al age­ing process. And if you’ve spent a lot of time out­doors and in the sun, you may notice more and more of these small brown spots appear­ing on your face as you get older.

While they are most­ly harm­less, there’s no doubt sun spots on the face can be both­er­some. These lit­tle dark areas of hyper­pig­men­ta­tion are very com­mon and may leave you feel­ing self-con­scious about your appear­ance. If you’re won­der­ing how to get rid of sunspots on your face, the good news is that there are a few treat­ments avail­able to help reduce and fade them.

In this arti­cle, we explore the most effec­tive treat­ments for sunspots on the face. We also take a look at some of the treat­ments that claim to remove sunspots but may not actu­al­ly help you achieve the results you’d hoped for.

But before div­ing into any facial sunspots treat­ments, there are a few impor­tant steps to take:

  • Get your spots pro­fes­sion­al­ly checked
    First things first: you must con­firm whether the spots on your face are actu­al­ly sunspots and not skin can­cer or melanoma. It can be very tricky to tell the dif­fer­ence between sunspots and skin can­cer, which is why it’s essen­tial to book in a skin check and have any skin spots (includ­ing sunspots) assessed by a pro­fes­sion­al. Once you know the sunspots on your face aren’t some­thing more seri­ous, you can begin look­ing into treat­ment options under the guid­ance of a dermatologist.
  • See a der­ma­tol­o­gist
    Don’t try to treat your facial sunspots with­out the help of a pro­fes­sion­al. A der­ma­tol­o­gist will be able to assess your skin type and your sunspots, and tai­lor the best treat­ment plan to suit your needs. Everyone’s skin is dif­fer­ent and a per­son­alised approach to sunspot removal is the most effec­tive way to achieve your desired outcome.
  • Get strict about sun safe­ty
    If you don’t pro­tect your skin from the sun with sun­screen and sun pro­tec­tive cloth­ing, your facial sunspots will almost cer­tain­ly return after treat­ment. Sun safe­ty is also the best way to pre­vent more sunspots from form­ing on your face in future.

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The most effec­tive treat­ments for sunspots on face

Laser treatment

Laser treat­ment or light ther­a­py is con­sid­ered to be the most effec­tive treat­ment for sunspots on face, help­ing to fade or com­plete­ly elim­i­nate them. In this treat­ment, a laser is used to tar­get the hyper­pig­ment­ed area of the sunspot and destroy the pig­ment-pro­duc­ing cells with­out dam­ag­ing the sur­round­ing skin. This type of pig­men­ta­tion treat­ment is typ­i­cal­ly deliv­ered over a num­ber of ses­sions, spread out over a num­ber of weeks.

While it’s per­fect­ly fine to use laser treat­ment for sunspots on face, lasers should nev­er be used on moles or poten­tial­ly can­cer­ous spots. This is why you should always see a der­ma­tol­o­gist or melanog­ra­ph­er before com­mit­ting to laser treat­ment so they can cor­rect­ly diag­nose your sunspots and deter­mine whether it is right for you.

Skin peels

Skin peels can help to improve the appear­ance of sunspots on the face by using chem­i­cal agents that work to remove pig­ment or melanin. Dur­ing this treat­ment, a chem­i­cal solu­tion is applied to the facial skin which peels away the out­er or top lay­er of the skin. New, smoother skin then forms dur­ing the heal­ing process. But keep in mind you may need to have sev­er­al treat­ments before you see results.

It’s impor­tant to note that this type of treat­ment can come with some uncom­fort­able side effects, includ­ing red­ness, swelling, scal­ing and blis­ters. You are also required to avoid any sun expo­sure for sev­er­al months after a skin peel pro­ce­dure. It’s rec­om­mend­ed that you only receive a chem­i­cal skin peel under the guid­ance of your der­ma­tol­o­gist, who can per­son­alise your treat­ment to suit your skin type and help you man­age the side effects.

Treat­ments that may not be effec­tive for sunspots on face

Cryother­a­py

While cryother­a­py can be used for sunspot removal, it may not be the best type of treat­ment for your face. This is because it can leave scar­ring and cause or wors­en pig­men­ta­tion. It’s like­ly you’re look­ing to fade the sunspots on your face for cos­met­ic or aes­thet­ic rea­sons, so oth­er treat­ments may be bet­ter suit­ed for this outcome.

Over-the-counter creams and serums

In the wide world of skin­care, there are many prod­ucts that claim to help reduce pig­men­ta­tion and even some that are mar­ket­ed as ​‘sunspot treat­ment cream’. But buy­er beware — at this stage, there is no research to sup­port the effi­ca­cy of creams and serums in fad­ing or reduc­ing sunspots.

While OTC creams and and serums alone are not effec­tive, they can be ben­e­fi­cial when used in com­bi­na­tion with oth­er treat­ments like laser treat­ment. Your der­ma­tol­o­gist will be able to rec­om­mend the best com­bi­na­tion approach for the treat­ment of your sunspots.

Nat­ur­al alternatives

Here’s the bot­tom line: No nat­ur­al treat­ments or prod­ucts have been found to be effec­tive for treat­ing facial sunspots in any cur­rent research. If you’re seek­ing a nat­ur­al, non-inva­sive treat­ment for sunspots on the face, the best approach is pre­ven­tion. This means using sun­screen on your face every­day and wear­ing sun pro­tec­tive cloth­ing, includ­ing a UPF 50+ hat and 100% UVA/UVB pro­tec­tion sun­glass­es when­ev­er you’re outdoors.

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What caus­es sunspots on face?

Facial sunspots, also known as age spots, liv­er spots or solar lentig­ine, are caused by years of expo­sure to the sun. Pro­longed UV expo­sure prompts the pig­ment-pro­duc­ing cells in your skin (known as melanocytes) to pro­duce excess pig­ment in a small area, cre­at­ing the brown flat mark you see on your skin.

Can sunspots on the face lead to skin cancer?

Sunspots on the face are typ­i­cal­ly con­sid­ered as benign, mean­ing they are not like­ly to become can­cer­ous. How­ev­er, it’s impor­tant to remain vig­i­lant about all spots on your skin, includ­ing sunspots, and have them checked reg­u­lar­ly by a professional.

Sunspots devel­op due to a life­time of sun expo­sure. This means that if you have sunspots, your skin has expe­ri­enced pro­longed UV expo­sure which puts you at high­er risk of devel­op­ing skin cancer.

How can you tell if it’s a sunspot or some­thing more?

The truth is: you can’t — but your der­ma­tol­o­gist or melanog­ra­ph­er can. Ear­ly stage skin can­cer or melanoma can also look very sim­i­lar to a harm­less sunspot, mak­ing it near impos­si­ble for the untrained eye to dis­cern between the two.

Before start­ing any cos­met­ic or aes­thet­ic treat­ment to fade your facial sunspots, be sure to have your spots checked by a der­ma­tol­o­gist or melanog­ra­ph­er. They will be able to con­firm the spots you’re con­cerned about are in fact sunspots and not some­thing more sus­pi­cious that could require alter­na­tive (and per­haps urgent) treatment.

And remem­ber, if you notice any new or chang­ing sunspots on your face, book in a skin check or Full Body MoleMap as soon as possible.

MoleMap Team

At MoleMap we check, detect and treat skin cancer. Find out how you can protect your skin at your nearest MoleMap skin cancer clinic.

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