How to Address Sun Spots on Your Chest
As relaxing as it is to lounge in the sun, if you don’t protect your skin with SPF, you’re in for some serious sun damage. Sunburns are only the beginning — too much time outside without sunscreen can increase your risk for skin cancer and result in sun spots, also known as liver spots or age spots. To find out how to get rid of sun spots (which often appear on the chest), we consulted board-certified dermatologists Dr. Kenneth Mark and Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank.
What are sun spots?
“Sun spots are lesions of hyperpigmentation that are caused by the sun,” says Dr. Mark. Their medical name is “solar lentigos” or “lentigines.”
What causes sun spots?
Sun spots happen as a result of prolonged UV exposure, either from the sun or from tanning beds. “Years of sun exposure triggers melanocytes to produce more pigment in concentrated areas,” says Dr. Frank. Melanocytes are what make up melanin, the dark brown pigment found in skin.
How can you reduce the appearance of sun spots?
Dr. Frank and Dr. Mark agree that the most effective way to get rid of sun spots for good is laser therapy. However, there are less expensive and less permanent topical solutions you can try too. Glycolic acid can make your spots appear lighter due to its exfoliation effects, says Dr. Mark. Dr. Frank stresses that while this ingredient can lighten existing spots, it will only do so superficially, which means the spots may reappear after more sun exposure.
We recommend the L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives Pure Glycolic Acid Serum, which gently exfoliates to make the skin appear more even and reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
How can you prevent sun spots?
The best way to prevent sun spots is to avoid sun exposure. Wear SPF on any exposed areas, limit time in the sun during peak sunshine hours of 10 AM to 2 PM and wear hats and protective clothing whenever you go outdoors. To increase the efficacy of your sunscreen, Dr. Frank recommends combining it with vitamin C.
“Vitamin C is best in helping to prevent sun spots as it helps to counteract oxidative stress, a key contributor to sun damage,” says Dr. Frank. It can also lighten the spots superficially. We recommend the SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic with 15% L-Ascorbic Acid, a potent antioxidant serum for normal to dry and combination skin. If you have oily or acne-prone skin, reach for the SkinCeuticals SilyMarin CF, which contains salicylic acid, instead.
Photo: Chaunte Vaughn