Having a smooth even-toned complexion is a wish that many individuals have, however, a wide variety of issues can cause skin to develop blemishes that make it look less than perfect.
One of these is age spots (also known as solar lentigines or liver spots) which can appear anywhere on the body but typically occur on the shoulders, arms, hands, face and other parts of the body that get the most sun exposure.
Liver spots are flat patches of skin (with either tan, brown or black coloring) that give skin an aged appearance. While they are an issue usually associated with being older (especially over fifty), excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) sunrays can cause younger skin to develop the spotty discoloration as well.
Age spots are typically harmless to health, despite the fact that they can have a similar look to skin cancer lesions, and do not require treatment outside of improving their appearance for cosmetic reasons.
Another problem that leads to dark marks and brown spots on the skin is hyperpigmentation.
There are several treatments available for dealing with skin discoloration caused by age spots or hyperpigmentation, which include options such as home remedies, over-the-counter skin lightening products (such as serums and creams) and more aggressive medical-grade treatments.
These treatments and products reduce the appearance of dark marks and gradually lighten and brighten the skin, making it look more even and flawless.
The best way to keep the skin looking as youthful as possible and avoid the problem of dark spots and discoloration on the face and body, is preventing the issues that lead to the skin darkening in the first place. This means avoiding excessive sun exposure and protecting skin from trauma and scaring whenever possible.
The following are some of the main causes of age spots and brown spots on the face and body.
- Exposure to Ultraviolet (UV) Light – Years of exposure to UV light from the sun is the leading cause of age spots and hyperpigmentation. Melanin (produced by cells called melanocytes) is a naturally occurring pigment produced in the epidermis (top layer of skin) that gives skin its color. When the skin is exposed to ultraviolet light, melanin production goes into overdrive and skin darkens or tans in response, which helps to protect the dermis (deep layers of skin) from sun damage.
- Tanning Regularly – Age spots can also develop with regular use of commercial tanning equipment (tanning lamps and beds), which are equally as harmful to skin as direct harsh sunlight.
- Hyperpigmentation – Hyperpigmentation usually occurs after some type of trauma happens to a specific area of skin (scarring) or because of issues such as hormonal imbalances or acne.
- Not Wearing Sunblock – After years of excessive sun exposure without adequate protection (with sunscreen), melanin clumps in the epidermis and gives the skin the patchy hyper-pigmented look known as age spots.
- Genetics – Some individual’s skin produces more melanin with age, even without any overexposure to sunlight. However, the vast majority of age spot and hyperpigmentation problems are caused by ultraviolet light and past sunburn damage.
- Getting Older – While factors such as genetics (some people are more predisposed to developing age spots than others) and the level of UV exposure contribute to age spots, aging itself is not a significant factor involved in developing age spots. The fact that older individuals skin is likely to have been exposed to harsh sunrays more frequently than a younger person’s skin is the main reason why age spots are seen more often in individuals over forty years of age. However, once skin is exposed too often to intense ultraviolet light, individuals of any age can develop signs and symptoms of age spots.
- Having Fair Skin – Individuals with fairer skin tones tend to develop age spots more often than those with darker skin. This is due to the fact that lighter skin has to produce more melanin than darker skin to protect the deep layers of the dermis from sun damage.
While many people believe that tanned skin looks attractive and healthy, the truth is that excessive sun exposure is very bad for skin health and will lead to extensive damage over time.
Home Remedies to Get Rid of Age/Brown Spots
The following are home remedies that work gradually to remove dark spots from the face and skin. The key to using these remedies successfully lies in having the patience for them to work. Allow several weeks of consistent use to see visible results.
- Lemon Juice
Applied several times a day, the acid and Vitamin C in lemon juice helps to keep skin clear while also bleaching the skin gently to remove age spots and brown spots.
- Use a cotton ball to rub fresh lemon juice (add water, honey and rose water for sensitive skin) into dark spots.
- Allow the juice to sit on the skin for at least half an hour before washing it away with cool water.
For best results, repeat twice daily for at least two months.
- Combine three tablespoons of sugar with the juice of one lemon (add a little olive oil optionally) to make a scrub.
- Using circular motions, apply the scrub to the affected skin and massage it in for between five and ten minutes before rinsing it away with cool water.
- Use a moisturizer after the treatment to keep skin from drying out.
For best results repeat this treatment several times weekly.
Warning: Spend no more than ten minutes at a time in the sunlight and avoid direct exposure after doing a lemon treatment for brown spots as it can make the skin more sensitive.
The lactic acid in buttermilk works to clear brown spots and discoloration by exfoliating the skin, and it does this without causing excessive dryness.
- Use a cotton ball to rub buttermilk over the affected skin (add fresh lemon juice for acne or oily skin).
- Leave the buttermilk on the skin for several minutes before washing it away with cool water.
- Combine two teaspoons of tomato juice and four teaspoons of buttermilk.
- Use a cotton ball to rub the mixture over the affected skin and let it sit for several minutes before rinsing it away with water.
For best results, repeat either treatment twice each day until brown spots disappear.
- Castor Oil
The high antioxidant content of castor oil helps to lighten skin discoloration and remove age spots and brown spots while protecting, healing and evening the tone of the skin.
- Apply castor oil to the affected skin using a cotton ball and massage it in deeply for several minutes.
- Allow the oil to absorb into the skin for several hours before rinsing it away.
For best results repeat this treatment twice daily (morning and evening).
- Apple Cider Vinegar
The acid properties of apple cider vinegar make it an effective treatment for eliminating blemishes and fading brown spots quickly.
- Combine water and apple cider vinegar in equal ratios (optionally add honey).
- Use a cotton ball to rub the mixture over the affected skin and leave it in place for several minutes before washing it away.
For best results, repeat daily for several days in a row.
- Combine a few tablespoons of orange juice with half a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar.
- Use a cotton ball to rub it into the affected skin and allow it to dry before rinsing it away.
For best results, repeat this treatment once or twice every day for at least four weeks.
Warning: While using plain apple cider vinegar is an option, it may cause the skin to sting.
- Aloe Vera
The skin regenerating properties of aloe vera make it useful for fading brown spots that form as a result of overexposure to the sun, along with healing the skin after sunburn.
- Slice an aloe vera leaf in two and gently rub the fleshy center over the affected skin.
- Allow the aloe vera sap to remain on the skin for at least half an hour before rinsing it away with cool water.
For best results repeat treatment two times each day for four weeks.
Note: Use store-bought aloe vera juice in place of fresh aloe vera if it is not available.
The antiseptic properties of sandalwood make it an effective treatment for getting rid of dark spots and hyperpigmentation, while also working to reduce the signs of aging in the skin.
- Combine two tablespoons of sandalwood powder, two teaspoons of rosewater, a teaspoon of glycerin and a teaspoon of lemon juice to make a paste.
- Cover the affected skin with the paste and leave it in place to dry completely before washing it away with cold water.
For best results, repeat several times weekly until hyperpigmentation fades.
- Combine two tablespoons of sandalwood powder, one tablespoon of orange juice, a teaspoon of lemon juice and the oil from two vitamin E capsules to make a paste.
- Apply the mixture to the entire face and leave it in place for approximately thirty minutes before rinsing it away.
Repeat this treatment several times a week for best results.
- Combine a tablespoon of olive oil (or almond oil) with a few drops of sandalwood oil.
- Before going to sleep, apply the mixture to the affected skin and leave it on until morning.
The skin lightening properties of the horseradish herb work to fade freckles, age spots and brown marks and give skin an even-toned glow.
- Grind a small piece of horseradish into a smooth paste before applying it to dark patches on the skin.
- Leave the paste on for between fifteen and twenty minutes before rinsing it away.
For best results, repeat treatment several times weekly.
- Combine a quarter cup of apple cider vinegar with a piece of grated horseradish (approximately 4 inches in length) and let the mixture sit for approximately two weeks.
- Remove the horseradish from the liquid.
- Use a cotton ball to apply the horseradish-infused apple cider vinegar to the discolored skin.
For best results, repeat treatment three times daily for a minimum of four weeks.
Acids and enzymes in yogurt make it effective for bleaching dark spots on the skin gently, reducing excessive melanin production and keeping skin healthy with beneficial bacteria.
- Rub a little yogurt into dark spots and let it sit for twenty minutes before removing it with cool water.
For the best and fastest results, let the yogurt sit on the affected skin overnight.
- Combine a teaspoon of yogurt with a teaspoon of honey and apply the mixture to the affected skin.
- Leave the mixture on the skin for at least thirty minutes to dry completely before washing it away.
- Combine two tablespoons of powdered oatmeal, a tablespoon of yogurt and a teaspoon of lemon juice to make a smooth paste.
- Cover the affected skin with the paste and leave it in place for half an hour before washing it away with cold water and moisturizing the skin.
For best results, repeat this treatment several times weekly.
Use fresh herbs and yogurt to fade brown spots while infusing the skin with a rich source of bioflavonoids and antioxidants.
- Combine a tablespoon of turmeric (curcumin) powder, a tablespoon of mustard powder and a tablespoon of aloe vera gel and a tablespoon of yogurt.
- Rub the mixture into the affected skin and allow it to dry completely before rinsing it away with cold water.
- Onion Juice
The acid content of onion juice (or garlic juice) along with its bleaching properties help to fade brown spots and age spots on the skin.
- Slice a fresh piece of onion and rub it over dark patches of skin.
For best results, repeat two or three times daily.
- Combine two tablespoons of honey with a tablespoon of fresh onion juice and rub the mixture into the affected skin.
- Let the juice sit on the skin for at least fifteen minutes before rising it away with water.
For best results, repeat treatment once or twice daily.
- Plant Enzymes
Various plant-based enzymes in foods such as papaya, potatoes and pineapples (papain, aspartic protease and bromelain) work to break melanin in the skin into smaller parts that have no color, while also dissolving the proteins (proteases or proteolytic enzymes) that hold dead skin cells together. The enzymes work on a biochemical level to transform substances while maintaining their own form and integrity (natural catalytic converters).
Papaya contains alpha hydroxy acids and enzymes that reduce acne, blemishes and age spots by exfoliating the top layers of skin, giving it a bright, clean and even-toned appearance.
- Cut a papaya in half and remove all of the pulp (throw away the seeds).
- Crush the papaya pulp in a bowl (or use a hand mixer) until it has a consistency that is smooth and even.
- Apply a tablespoon of mashed papaya to the affected skin and leave it in place for at least twenty minutes (or until completely dry) before washing it away with cool water.
For best results repeat treatment two times a day.
Use the enzymes in potatoes to help remove brown spots from the skin.
- Peel and grate one medium white potato before combining it with honey to make a paste.
- Rub the paste into the affected skin and leave it in place for at least fifteen minutes before washing it away with cold water.
Use the enzymes in pineapples (juice or pulp) to make an exfoliating treatment that fades hyperpigmentation and brown spots gradually.
- Use a cotton ball to rub fresh all-natural (no sugar added) pineapple juice into the affected skin.
- Leave the juice in place until it dries completely before rinsing away with cold water.
- Mash several slices of pineapple into a smooth pulp and apply it all over the face and other affected skin.
- Allow the mask to dry completely before washing it away with cold water.
Warning: Perform a patch test and wait at least one full day with no reaction before continuing with the full treatment.
Use chickpeas (garbanzo beans) as a mask to exfoliate the skin and fade brown spots and discoloration.
- Measure a quarter cup of chickpeas and add them to half a cup of boiling water.
- Let the peas cook until soft (approximately an hour for dried peas and fifteen minutes for canned peas) before removing them from the heat to cool completely.
- Make a smooth paste by mashing the cooled chickpeas thoroughly.
- Apply the mask to areas of affected skin and allow it to dry before washing it away with cold water.
- Vitamin E
Fade brown spots and dark marks on the skin with the anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and healing properties of vitamin E oil (as well as coconut oil, almond oil and olive oil).
- Rub the contents of a vitamin E capsule into discolored patches of skin and leave it in place, allowing the oil to penetrate skin thoroughly.