Sunspots on Face? Here is how to manage them Safely & Effectively

We all love feeling the warmth of the sun on our faces. But regular exposure to the sun can cause dark spots and patches on our face – also known ...

5 min read

We all love feeling the warmth of the sun on our faces. But regular exposure to the sun can cause dark spots and patches on our face – also known as sunspots. A type of hyperpigmentation, sunspots on the face result from your skin’s response to daily exposure to ultraviolet rays. 

Even though most of us can feel conscious about sunspots, sunspots are entirely normal.

We have gathered all the information you need about sunspots: the causes, the treatments and how to prevent them. 

What are the causes of sunspots?

Exposure to the sun can cause premature ageing, also known as photoaging. When our skin is exposed to the UV rays in the sun, it starts producing extra melanin. Melanin is nothing but the pigment in our skin cells that gives our skin its colour.  The excess melanin production (also known as hyperpigmentation) or clumps of melanin in our skin leads to dark patches and spots referred to as sunspots. 

Sunspots can be found all over your body, but since our face and neck get the maximum exposure to the sun, we happen to see the most on our face and neck. 

It is essential to understand that your genetics significantly affect how prone you are to getting sunspots and how many. Light-skinned and dark-skinned people can get sunspots on exposure to sun, but lighter-skinned people are more likely to get sunspots. 

Are sunspots dangerous?

Typically flat in structure and brown in colour, sunspots tend to appear in clusters and are generally harmless. While sunspots don’t pose any health risks and are usually not a cause for concern, it’s always good to keep an eye on them. Get it checked by a qualified dermatologist if it grows bigger than 2 centimetres and looks iffy and raised.

How to prevent getting sunspots

Even if you have been gifted with good genes, it is necessary to protect yourself against sun exposure proactively. Good skincare habits go a long way in the prevention of sunspots. Applying broad-spectrum sunscreen with a SPF of at least 30 protects your skin against sun exposure. 

Choose protective clothing, like long-sleeved tops, wide-brimmed hats, and sunglasses, before going out in the sun. Also, avoid sun between 10 am and 3 pm, when the sun is strongest.

How often should you apply sunscreen to avoid sunspots on your face?

Sunscreen should be applied all year round. Just because you can’t see the sun through clouds doesn’t mean that your skin is not getting exposed to the UV rays. 

Practice applying sunscreen at least 30 minutes before stepping outside your home. If you are going to the beach or participating in water activities, don’t forget to reapply sunscreen every two hours for maximum shield.

How can you treat your sunspots?

Sunspots are completely normal and are nothing to be embarrassed about. However, if you want to treat them for cosmetic reasons, a few options are available. There are two main ways of treating sunspots: at–home products or professional services.

Professional cosmetic services are more effective in treating sunspots and can also help ensure quicker results. When using over-the-counter skin care products, remember it takes time to see results and requires consistency.

What are the different types of treatments for sunspots removal?

From laser treatment to chemical peels, various options are available. However, it is essential to undergo these cosmetic procedures under the supervision of certified clinicians with experience:

1. Laser Treatments

Laser treatments are professional procedures that need to be done by certified clinicians with experience. There are two main types of laser treatments:

  • Laser Peel

Laser Peel or skin resurfacing is a type of procedure where layers of skin affected by sunspots are removed using a targeted laser beam. After the treatment, you are left with a pink patch of skin where new skin grows back. This ablative procedure is the most intense form of laser treatment. This treatment can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours. You should give yourself 10 to 21 days for your skin to completely heal. 

  • Intense Pulsed Light

Intense Pulsed Light or IPL treatment is a non-ablative professional treatment that eliminates sunspots. Pulses of light energy are used to remove the sunspots by heating and destroying the extra melanin in your skin. Each session takes about 30 minutes and causes almost no pain. The number of sessions required depends on your skin type and number of sunspots that need to be addressed. 

Following proper aftercare, like avoiding direct exposure to sun and wearing broad-spectrum SPF, is essential for a healthy skin recovery.

2. Microdermabrasion

Microdermabrasion helps reduce the appearance of sunspots by removing the layer of skin that contains the excess pigment due to damage from sun exposure. A non-invasive cosmetic procedure that uses a specialised device to remove the top layer of skin gently. The special device with an abrasive tip exfoliates the dead skin, and suction removes it. 

This procedure is safe for most people and causes almost no pain. The procedure takes anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour to treat the whole face and neck. You may experience some redness and slight swelling, but it can be expected to go away within a day.

Like laser therapy, following proper aftercare is essential: applying broad-spectrum sunscreen, avoiding direct sun exposure and using a gentle moisturiser.

3. Microneedling

Microneedling as a facial procedure has gained immense popularity in the last few years.
This minimally invasive procedure uses tiny needles to prick the skin, which helps promote the production of collagen – the building block of your skin that makes your skin tighter and smoother. It is effective in reducing sunspots and other signs of ageing and hyperpigmentation.

A topical anaesthetic might be applied before the procedure to reduce any discomfort. The procedure takes anywhere between 30 minutes to two hours, and you may experience some redness immediately after the procedure and dryness and flaky skin for a few days afterwards.

4. Chemical Peel

This procedure involves the application of a chemical solution to exfoliate and gently remove the top layer of the skin. This creates a controlled wound and promotes regrowth of skin. Local peels are usually pain-free and give a tingly feeling.

5. Using products with Active Ingredients

Active ingredients or Actives are  compounds that are present in skincare products like serums or creams to address specific skin concerns like hyperpigmentation.

Some tried and tested Actives like vitamin C, Retinol can help reduce your sunspots over time. These active ingredients help reduce excess melanin production and block the pathways where the melanin is produced. You can start seeing the results after two to three months of consistent use.  Here are some activities to consider while choosing your skincare regimen for treating sunspots:

6. Increasing Vitamin C intake

Vitamin C is not only a brightening agent that helps reduce your dark spots by limiting the production of excess melanin without changing the colour of your skin. It is also rich in antioxidant properties. Due to these antioxidant properties, using skincare products with Vitamin C under sunscreen can help prevent future damage from UV rays. 

7. Using creams or gels with retinoids

A derivative of Vitamin A, skincare with Retinoids is excellent for treating hyperpigmentation like sunspots. Retinoids promote the regeneration of new skin cells through exfoliation, which helps reduce the appearance of dark sunspots on your face. It is also helpful in reducing the activity of an enzyme that stimulates melanin production.

8. Including AHA in your skin care regime

Alpha Hydroxy Acids, or AHA, are naturally occurring acids in citrus fruits and milk. Skincare with AHAs work as exfoliants and help remove dead skin cells, lighten spots and improve skin texture. They also help the production of collagen, which helps with the regeneration of new skin cells – as a result, the appearance of skin spots is reduced.

While many options offer quick results and long-term results – it is advisable to choose the best option for your skin after consultation with a professional.


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