“How can I get rid of these spots on my hands?”
That’s one question I get asked a lot here on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. Maybe it’s because we’re in the “Sunshine State.” But if you’ve tried countless moisturizers and anti-aging serums without relief, there could be another factor at work, too.
Soaking up the sun is a way of life in Queensland and that’s a good thing. Sunshine is the best way to get your vitamin D, the wonder vitamin that can lessen your risk of cancer and heart disease, and strengthens your bones. That news is exciting.
But the sun can also cause those brown spots to appear on your hands, arms, chest and other areas that get a lot of sun.
Pregnancy and aging can cause them too.
In medical terms, they’re called lentigines. You might call them age spots or liver spots, although they have nothing to do with your liver. They form when UV light from the sun causes you to produce melanin – the same pigment that gives you a tan. When the melanin builds up in certain areas, you’re left with the sun spots.
They’re not harmful, but many women want to get rid of them. A lot of people ask about skin lightening creams you can buy over the counter. But I don’t suggest those.
These creams are packed with harsh toxins, parabens, alcohol or worse. For example, one of the most well-known lightening agents is hydroquinone. It’s quite controversial. Many dermatologists call it safe when used properly…but animal studies have found it to be carcinogenic, and also disruptive to the immune system.
Dangerous side effects have been reported in Africa, where skin bleaching is common and women use hydroquinone and other lightening chemicals for a long period of time. Complications include bluish black discoloration of the skin, abnormal hair growth,
painful lesions, hypertension, and adrenal problems, among other things.
But there could be something even worse lurking in skin lightening creams… mercury. Sometimes it’s right on the label as mercurous chloride, mercurio or calomel – but it’s not always listed. The results of this potent neurotoxin can affect the mind and body, causing gastrointestinal and perhaps kidney damage, extreme fatigue, difficulty breathing and loss of coordination. Right now, the health departments in some areas are investigating the resurgence of mercury poisoning as a result of skin lightening creams.
There are better ways to even out your skin tone – naturally. Here’s what I recommend…
Lemon juice. Squeeze some fresh lemon juice onto a cotton round and gently massage it over your sun spots.
Leave it on for 5 to 10 minutes, depending on your skin’s sensitivity.
The results will be gradual but usually noticeable within 2 weeks.
Take before-and-after photos for the fun of it.
If your skin is sensitive to the lemon juice, try mixing it with chamomile or yogurt.
One thing you should know lemon juice can make your skin more sensitive to the sun, so I recommend using it at night.
Chamomile. This herb is very gentle and great for fading sun spots.
First, brew a strong tea. Let it cool to a temperature that’s comfortable for your skin and apply it the age spots.
If you have widespread age spots, try throwing a few tea bags into a bath.
Yogurt. There’s a good reason yogurt is a popular ingredient in do-it-yourself skin care.
It has lactic acid (LA), a natural alpha-hydroxy acid.
Preliminary research has shown that LA may help promote cell turnover and interfere with melanin formation.
Yogurt is also anti-bacterial, which makes it great for acne. Use plain, organic, unsweetened yogurt for best results.
Retinoids. If the other methods don’t get you the results you want, talk to your health care provider about using retinoids.
(You’ve probably heard of the brand name Retin-A, but there are many others.)
These are very effective for correcting discoloration and evening out skin tone.
Retinoids also make your skin much more sensitive to the sun, so it’s important to be aware of your exposure.
Until next week enjoy the sun, but remember to much can age us also.
Here’s to a simply more beautiful you!