This is what I need to fade away my brown spots….
It can take decades of spotty sunscreen use before brown spots start to appear. Fortunately, making them vanish takes a whole lot less time. Here’s what experts say you can realistically accomplish in one day, one week, and one month. Find the timeline that works for you and follow the recommended anti-aging skin care routine for skin that’s bright, glowing, and, most importantly, spotless.
Your One-Day Plan:
If a big event is imminent and you’d rather your brown spots not make an appearance, use an at-home microdermabrasion kit, like Neutrogena’s Microdermabrasion System ($20, neutrogena.com), the night before to whisk away the top layer of dead cells and instantly make skin look healthier and brown spots less noticeable, says Elizabeth Briden, MD, adjunct associate professor of dermatology at the University of Minnesota. Bonus: your makeup will glide on smoother and more evenly after this intense exfoliation, further camouflaging the spots.
Your One-Week Plan:
At the start of the week, try a single in-office session with a Q-Switched Laser, which zaps away spots by breaking up the cluster of pigment into such small pieces that your body’s immune system reabsorbs and disposes of them, says Jody Levine, a New York City-based dermatologist and national medical director of AOB Med Spa. The procedure costs between $350 and $800 depending on the size of the area treated (yes, it’s pricey, but it’s also highly effective), and brown spots should diminish within a few days post-procedure, though you may need one or two more treatments to completely remove a spot. Give your skin a few days to recover from the laser’s high temperatures, which can leave skin a little sensitive, then use a gentle chemical exfoliator, like Juice Beauty Green Apple Peel Sensitive ($40, juicebeauty.com), on any remaining spots.
Your One-Month Plan:
Alternate between an at-home peel and a microdermabrasion product every few days to fade spots, reduce fine lines, and boost radiance. “Combining exfoliators is like power washing your complexion,” Briden explains. Just be sure to follow the directions on the label so you don’t strip away too much of your skin’s protective outer layer. You may experience some immediate redness, but it should fade the next day.
Every morning, use a broad-spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen to keep new dark spots from forming. Every night, apply a prescription hydroquinone bleaching cream—its still the best topical treatment for brown spots, Levine says, though you’ll need to use it daily for at least two weeks to see results. Prescription retinoid creams can also do the job, but they’re less potent and will need about twice as long (a month) to produce results. (Limit use of either 2 months and follow your derms instructions carefully—the powerful products can actually backfire and cause more pigmentation with improper or excessive use.)
Two weeks before your spot-reduction deadline, if you can afford to splurge, try an in-office peel using a low level of trichloroacetic acid, which offers more dramatic results in tone and texture because it reaches deeper layers of skin, Briden says. After about a week of downtime (you’ll look badly sunburned—don’t say we didn’t warn you), your skin’s natural healing response kicks in, replacing damaged tissue with fresh, younger-looking skin.