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Sunspots, also known as liver spots (even though they have nothing to do with the liver), are areas of hyperpigmentation that develop on surfaces of the skin that are exposed to the sun’s UVA and UVB rays. 

UVB radiation penetrates the top layer of the skin causing melanocytes (pigmented skin cells) to multiply, thus resulting in the appearance of tan, freckled, or spotted skin. When the skin is overexposed to sun, this stimulates your melanocytes to produce a surplus of pigment. This excess pigment gets dumped into the lower levels of the skin, which then causes the spots to get darker.

This is different from melasma (brown or gray spots found on the forehead, cheek or nose), which is triggered from hormonal influences. Melasma is usually brought on by pregnancy, oral contraceptives, and other hormone therapies.

Sunspots are commonly found on the face, shoulders, back, and the backs of the hands and tend to develop around 40 years of age. However, they may develop earlier in life depending on your level of sun exposure. They do not discriminate between genders, and can appear on men and women of any race.

You can not permanently remove sunspots, (and I don’t recommend lasers in this situation). However, you can minimize the appearance at home and or with your professional through special medicated creams.

Applying a sunscreen with at least SPF 30 to the face and décolleté daily is crucial in preventing further hyperpigmentation and preventing sun spots.  I recommend using Dr. Barbara Sturm Sun Drops, which protect your skin against both UVA and UVB rays, and also contains SPF 50 broad spectrum protection against the sun.

I also recommend Environ’s 3 Focused Care Radiance+ Range, which is a three step regimen treatment that includes vitamin C and other potent ingredients to lighten various dark spots and improve the appearance of uneven skin tone. This does not take the place of your sunscreen!

Step 1 is the Multi-Bioactive Mela-Prep Lotion, which contains highly specialized ingredients for a brighter, more even-toned complexion. Step 2, Vita-Botanical Mela-Fade Serum System,  is comprised of 2 serums that contain a potent blend of vitamins and botanicals that assist in targeting the root causes of skin discoloration and helps to improve the appearance of visible skin damage. The final step in this Range is the Intense C-Boost Mela-Even Cream, which is a vitamin C infused cream that reveals a brighter, more evenly radiant and healthier looking skin.

In-Studio treatments including Cold Therapy are extremely effective in treating hyperpigmentation and dark spots. Cryogenically cooled air helps infused targeted brightening serums into the skin for maximum absorption.  Additionally, yellow LED light is also effective in improving the appearance of sun damage.

When you look at a brown spot on your skin, it is not always easy to tell the difference between a sunspot, freckle, mole or melanoma. This is why it is important to always check your spots, and see a doctor or skincare expert if you notice any changes, inconsistencies or abnormalities.