woman preventing sun spots on skin

What Are Sun Spots And How To Get Rid Of Them

Read our guide to understand what they are, what causes them and how to get rid of sun spots.

What are sun spots and how to get rid of them

Sun spots on skin and how to get rid of them

Have you noticed small brown flat spots on the skin, usually on the face or the back of the hands? These are most likely to be sun spots - sometimes known as liver spots (although they have nothing to do with the liver) or age spots (they do have quite a lot to do with age). Dermatologists know them as solar lentigines.
 
Whatever you call them, these pesky pigmentations can be annoying blemishes on what are often exposed areas of your skin that can be difficult to cover up. Let’s take a closer look at sun spots on skin and at what causes them and how to get rid of sun spots, as well as exploring preventions and treatments. 
 

What are sun spots on skin?

Sun spots on skin are flat spots of skin discolouration that are usually a shade of brown - from tan to dark - that develop on parts of the skin that are exposed to the sun, such as the face, shoulders, back, and the backs of the hands. They vary in size, and will often grow, although usually start off larger than freckles. Unlike freckles, which they are sometimes confused with, they won’t fade without being helped along by treatments. 

 

What causes these sun spots on skin? 

Your skin contains a substance called melanin, a skin pigment that determines the colour of your skin and hair. When exposed to UV light the skin produces more melanin in an attempt to repair the damage. The increase in melanin in the body turns the skin darker - that’s your tan. In other words, melanin is the body's way of protecting the skin from burning. Sun spots appear when melanin is produced in high concentrations - what is known as hyperpigmentation - in where your skin is exposed to high doses of UV light such as your face or hands. 

 

lady avoiding sun spots on skin

What are sun spots and how to get rid of them

At what age do sun spots on skin start appearing?

Most people start getting them around the age of 40 depending on the amount of exposure they’ve had to the sun over the years. The more time you've spent in the sun with little or no UV protection, the more likely it is you will develop age spots and develop them earlier. Fair skin is also more at risk of developing sun spots. While harmless, sun spots can often keep growing bigger over time, so if sun spots on skin are causing you concern it is better to tackle the problem sooner rather than later. 
 

What are sun spots and how to get rid of them

How to get rid of sun spots

There are treatments you can do at home that can help fade or remove sunspots. These include:
aloe vera for sun spots on skin

How To Get Rid Of Sun Spots

Aloe Vera

Aloe vera is a wonder plant that contains active compounds, including aloin and aloesin, which have been found to effectively lighten hyperpigmentation, including sun spots on skin.

vitamin C for sun spots on skin

How To Get Rid Of Sun Spots

Vitamin C

The antioxidant properties of vitamin C offer several benefits, including delivering a protective effect against UVA and UVB rays. Applying vitamin C topically is also an effective way to lighten various dark spots caused by the sun.

vitamin E for sun spots on skin

How To Get Rid Of Sun Spots

Vitamin E

Studies have shown that dietary vitamin E and topical vitamin E oil protects the skin against photosensitivity (sensitivity to ultraviolet - UV - rays) that puts you more at risk of skin damage.

black tea for sun spots on skin

How To Get Rid Of Sun Spots

Black Tea

Your regular cuppa isn’t just something to dunk your biscuit in. A 2011 study found applying black tea to brown spots twice a day for four weeks did help to lighten the area. 

ingredient for how to get rid of sun spots

How To Get Rid Of Sun Spots

Apple Cider Vinegar

The acetic acid in apple cider vinegar may help lighten sunspots when applied regularly. Although go easy on it - you don’t want to smell like a chip shop. 

cream to avoid sun spots

How To Get Rid Of Sun Spots

Liquorice Extract

Such is the effectiveness of liquorice extract that you will find it in many common available creams and lotions that aim to reduce the appearance of sun spots on skin.

green tea for how to get rid of sun spots

How To Get Rid Of Sun Spots

Green Tea

Not to be outdone, green tea has also been found to reduce the appearance of sun spots on skin. Dab a little cooled green tea on the affected area daily.

cleansing for how to get rid of sun spots

How To Get Rid Of Sun Spots

Milk

The lactic acid in milk may help lighten skin pigmentation, including sun spots. 

Non-natural procedures

There are procedures that can treat sun spots such as laser or cryotherapy. It is important to seek specialist help before embarking on a course of evasive (and often expensive) treatment.


What are sun spots and how to get rid of them

How do I prevent sun spots?

woman in sun preventing sun spots on skin

As your mum always told you, prevention is better than a cure. And sun spots are no exception. Sun spots are not an evitable sign of aging

The better care you take of your skin in the sun, the less likely you are to develop sun spots, and any age spots you do develop are likely to be fewer and later. 
Unprotected exposure to the sun is damaging to the skin because of ultraviolet (UV) radiation. There are two types of UV ray that have different, but equally as damaging, effects on the skin: 

  • UVA  is associated with skin aging
  • UVB is associated with skin burning

The best way to prevent sun spots on skin is to get into the habit of wearing a high SPF facial cream daily, even on cloudy cool days, over or instead of your regular moisturiser. Aim for an SPF of at least 30. The good news is that these days there are specific SPF formulas for the face which deliver all the UV-protection you need but won’t leave your face so greasy your makeup will simply slide off.

 

Oily or combination skins will benefit from the mattifying effects of NIVEA SUN UV Face Shine Control Cream SPF 50. Its light formula offers protection against UVA / UVB rays that cause premature skin aging, including sun spots, while mopping up any excess oils.

 

Coenzyme Q10, also known as CoQ10, is a compound that helps generate energy in your cells and is an important part of an anti-aging routine. NIVEA Sun UV Face Q10 Anti-Age and Anti-Pigments SPF30 gives you a Q10 boost delivered alongside a moisturising SPF designed to help prevent sun induced fine lines, wrinkles and pigment spots. it soaks in quickly and sits nicely under foundation making it ideal for everyday use.