Regardless of your ethnic background or skin colour, eventually most of us will develop some kind of brown or age spots. *sigh* These age spots generally appear on exposed skin areas like the face, back, neck, chest, shoulders and hands. The MAIN culprit being sun exposure. When skin is exposed to the sun, it causes an increase in the production of cells known as melanocytes that increase melanin in the skin, which turns the skin darker.
The good news? Age spots are harmless. They are benign, not cancerous. (But because some skin cancers such as melanoma can look like age spots, you should ask your doctor to examine your skin during your annual checkup.)
Even if age spots are harmless, I personally am not a fan. ;-). So when my mother started noticing more and more of them on her face and arms I started doing some research and it turns out there are lots of simple, all-natural remedies you can use to lighten age spots that you can probably find in your kitchen right now!
The citric acid in lemon juice is a natural bleaching agent and exfoliates the skin, reducing the appearance of age spots.
- Simply dab fresh lemon juice directly onto the spots twice daily and you should begin to notice improvements in about two months. Leave the juice on the skin for at least 30 minutes, or as long as you are comfortable with it. You can also leave the juice on the skin overnight.
Notes: If you plan to go outdoors, wait for the juice to dry as it increases the skin’s sensitivity to sunlight. Do not use bottled lemon juice because it may contain other chemicals that may damage the skin. In addition, the amount of citric acid present may have weakened during the time it remained in the bottle.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar contains natural alpha hydroxy acids, which are known to help lighten sun and age spots.
- To combat the acidic nature of vinegar, you can mix it with olive oil which will protect the skin from dryness. Apply every day on the skin and remove it after 20 minutes. Your skin will be left soft and smooth.
- It is normal to experience a little redness or stinging at first (just like you would with a toner). If you have sensitive skin, or if it feels too strong, dilute with water.
3. Onion Juice
Onions contain sulfur compounds that act as an antiseptic. They also contain acids that facilitate exfoliation. Lemons smell better but some people may find them irritating to the skin. If your skin is intolerant to the lemon juice, try fresh onion juice.
- Simply slice up some onions and rub the slices over the affected area two or three times a day.
- Another option is to mix one tablespoon of onion juice with two tablespoons of honey and apply the mixture on the affected area. Leave it on for about 15 minutes before washing the area thoroughly so that the strong smell goes away. Do this once or twice a day.
The Vitamin C in horseradish slows production of melanin, the substance responsible for skin pigmentation. Another ingredient in horseradish is glucosinolates. Glucosinolates increase circulation, work as antioxidants, and flush waste from the body.
- You can make a horseradish paste and apply it directly to the skin. Leave it on for 15 to 20 minutes before washing it off. Use it a few times a week.
- Another option is to grate a four-inch piece of horseradish with mix it in one-quarter cup of apple cider vinegar and allow the mixture to sit for two weeks. After two weeks, strain the mixture. Use a cotton ball to apply it on the affected skin. Follow this remedy three times a day for at least one month.
5. Aloe Vera
Aloe vera is commonly used to treat a number of skin ailments, including age spots.
- Simply rub a little fresh aloe vera gel (taken directly from the plant) onto the affected area and leave to soak in. As aloe vera is very gentle, there is no need to rinse it off. However, you may want to rinse it off if it starts to feel sticky.
- If you don’t have access to the gel from an aloe vera plant, you can buy fresh aloe vera juice at the market or health food store. This works just as well.
Certain enzymes and alpha hydroxy acids present in papaya can help exfoliate your skin and reduce age spots, skin blemishes, acne and other skin problems. It will also give your skin a cleaner and brighter look.
- Cut a thin slice of the skin from a green papaya. Press the fleshy side of the skin to your age spots for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Alternatively, you can cut the papaya into small chunks and press them into a pulp with a fork or potato masher. Apply the pulp to your age spots with your fingers, allowing the mask to sit for 15 minutes before rinsing. Use daily.
While we all know that too much sun exposure worsens skin aging, most people don’t know that the light from their digital devices can do the same thing! Learn how to avoid it here.
The naturally occurring lactic acid also found in yogurt gently removes dead skin cells. As the discolored skin sloughs off, fresh healthy skin is revealed.
- Apply some plain yogurt directly on the spots. Let it dry on its own for about 20 minutes before rinsing it off with cold water. For faster results, apply yogurt on the affected area before going to bed and leave it on overnight.
- Alternatively, you can make a skin pack by combining one tablespoon of plain yogurt, two tablespoons of ground oatmeal and one teaspoon of fresh lemon juice. Apply this pack on the spots and allow it to sit for 30 minutes before rinsing it off with cold water. Then apply some moisturizer. Follow this remedy a few times a week.
8. Castor Oil
Castor oil is known for its skin healing properties and has proven effective in the treatment of age spots.
- Apply a little castor oil directly onto the age spots and massage into the skin for a minute or two until absorbed. Do this once in the morning and once in the evening, and you should start to see an improvement in about a month.
- If you have got dry skin, you can mix a little coconut oil, olive oil or almond oil in with the castor oil for added moisture.
Buttermilk is often used to reduce brown spots and skin pigmentation because it contains lactic acid which tends to lighten the skin safely without causing any irritation.
- Dip a cotton swab in buttermilk and apply it on the affected area. Wash your skin after 15-20 minutes. If your’s is oily skin or acne prone skin, mix a little lime juice or tomato juice to the buttermilk before applying it to your skin.
Sandalwood is believed to contain effective anti-aging properties, and is often used to reduce the appearance of age spots.
- Massage a drop of pure sandalwood essential oil directly onto the age spots.
- Alternatively, you can mix a pinch of sandalwood powder with a couple of drops each of rose water , glycerin and lemon juice. Apply this paste onto the age spots and leave to dry for 20 minutes before rinsing off with cold water.
You will need to have patience when using these home remedies. The brown spots will not disappear in a week or two, so you need to follow the remedies for several weeks to notice positive results.
A final word about PREVENTION:
The first line of defense against age spots and aging skin is smart sun behavior (meaning avoidance or, minimal exposure) along with the daily use of a good sunscreen, SPF 25 or greater.
No other aspect of controlling or reducing skin discolourations is as important as being careful about exposing your skin to the sun and the use of sunscreen!