“Sun spots are various lesions of hyperpigmentation that by definition are caused by the sun,” says Dr. Kenneth Mark, a board-certified dermatologist and Skincare.com consultant. “The medical name for these are ‘solar lentigos,’ also called ‘lentigines.’”
According to Dr. Mark, those with fair skin are more likely to develop sun spots than those with dark skin, especially after years of sun exposure.
Sun spots can happen as a result of prolonged sun exposure and/or from UV rays in tanning beds, says Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank, a board-certified dermatologist and Skincare.com consultant. They are darker than the surrounding skin and are benign, meaning they are not cancerous.
Both doctors say that vitamin C, glycolic acid and various actives can help lighten sun spots on a superficial level, but that they are likely to reappear with repeated UV exposure.
The best way to prevent sun spots from forming is to wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 every day, and to remember to reapply. It is also recommended to stay out of the sun during peak hours (between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.) and to wear protective clothing, such as hats, sunglasses and long sleeves or high necklines.