For most Europeans, heading to the beach and catching a few rays is integral to summer. Whether you head to the Mediterranean or stay closer to home, there's nothing like having fun in the sun. And with warm weather continuing into October these days, our skin is getting more exposure to UV rays than ever.
The problem is that as we get into our thirties and forties, we may develop sun spots on our skin from all those rays. Although they're not harmful, like skin cancers, we could do without them. Is there anything that you can do to prevent sun spots or treat them when you get them?
Thankfully, the answer is yes! Both approaches can help you keep your skin even and clear of these pesky patches. So let's dig into everything you need to know about sun spots on the skin so you can feel beach confident this summer.
What Are Sun Spots?
Sun spots - or solar lentigo to give them their scientific name - are hyperpigmented patches that appear on the skin following a lot of sun exposure. You can get them on any part of your body, but naturally, they are more common on our hands, arms, and faces as they get the most exposure to the sun.
Sun spots on our skin can be either flat or slightly raised. They may appear dark brown or greyish and can vary in size.
The Science Bit
Let's get technical. When we expose our skin to UV rays regularly, the skin calls its natural defenses into action. As a result, it produces more melanocytes - cells that produce melanin. This substance is responsible for pigmentation in all areas of our body.
Melanin protects the keratinocytes - the cells that make up the top level of the skin. It does this by absorbing UV light. However, this overproduction of melanin leaves dark spots on the skin, which many people find unsightly.
Remember, it's not just sun exposure that can cause sun spots. In Western Europe, sunbeds are very popular and expose you to UV rays. These rays can cause skin damage like sun spots.
Who Can Get Sun Spots?
They're more common in light-skinned people, but darker-skinned people are also susceptible to them. It's a myth that people with darker skin are unaffected by sun damage. Using sun protection is still vital, no matter your skin tone.
Ruling Out Skin Cancer
All of us need to be skin cancer aware. Whenever you notice any changes in your skin, it's best to get them checked out by a doctor. Sun spots are harmless and do not require medical treatment, but skin cancers can be life-threatening.
From a visual examination, dermatologists can usually tell the difference between sun spots and skin cancer. Then, if they suspect the spot may be malignant, they will perform more tests, such as a skin biopsy.
Tips for Preventing Sun Spots
As we've seen, the link between sun spots and UV rays is undeniable. Therefore, the best way to prevent sun spots is to minimize exposure to UV rays.
The problem is that if you've been brought up in the UK or Western Europe, you've probably been raised with the idea that tanned skin is more beautiful.
On this topic, Psychology Today reported that this is an example of a self-presentation strategy. This can lead to unhealthy behaviors. At best, topping up your tan may lead to sun spots and, at worst, deadly cancers.
So how can you strike the right balance?
Choose the Best Sun Protection
Whether you call it sunscreen, sun cream, or sunblock, it should be an integral part of your spring and summer skincare routine. It helps prevent signs of premature aging like sun spots, wrinkles, and sagging and protects against skin cancers. But with so much confusing terminology around, how can you choose the best type?
Some key terms to understand include:
SPF: This stands for sun protection factor. The higher the SPF rating, the better the protection from UVB rays.
Broad spectrum: The SPF number tells you how effectively the cream reflects UVB rays. But broad-spectrum sunscreen provides additional protection against UVA rays. UVA can cause premature aging.
Tinted or untinted: Both provide excellent protection. But tinted sunscreen offers additional help to people with hyperpigmentation. A report from Harvard Medical School showed that tinted sunscreens could reduce hyperpigmentation. This is precisely what you want if you are prone to sun spots.
Apply frequently: Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen, SPF 30 or higher, when outdoors. Apply it thirty minutes before going outside and reapply every two hours.
Apart from using sunscreen, we can take some other precautions to reduce our exposure to UV rays. These include:
Covering up - if light can get through fabric, so can UV rays. So choose tightly woven fabrics or clothes with coatings that absorb UV rays.
Choose cosmetics with an SPF rating - Many types of cosmetics, including foundations and BB creams, now have an SPF rating. They can provide additional protection as you go about your daily life.
Avoid tanning beds - Tanning beds may be convenient, but they may expose you to higher doses of UV rays than the tropical midday sun!
These tips and tricks can help you prevent premature aging and even skin cancer. But what can you do if you already have sun spots on your skin?
How to Get Rid of Sun Spots
Happily, concealer is not your only option when tackling sun spots. Several at-home treatment options can even out your skin tone, eliminating blemishes.
Vitamin C Serum
We all know that vitamin C is vital for our body's healing processes. But did you know that it has incredible skin-healing superpowers as well?
A vitamin C serum can hydrate the skin, help it to produce more collagen, and is well tolerated by most skin types. And crucially, it can help to fade hyperpigmentation.
A study found that vitamin C works with copper ions to inhibit the action of an enzyme called tyrosinase. Tyrosinase is involved in melanin production. By inhibiting this enzyme, melanin levels are reduced, causing hyperpigmentation to fade.
Some serums can cause a reaction in certain people. If you have sensitive skin, look for a serum formulated for people with this condition.
How to Use Vitamin C Serum
Always follow the instructions that come with the serum to achieve the best results. If you have sensitive skin, test a small amount of the serum on your forearm before applying it to your face. Then, massage it in and leave it for 24 hours to check whether you react.
If the serum is safe for your skin, use it daily. Usually, it's best to gently massage vitamin C serum into cleansed and toned skin before applying sunscreen.
Are you looking for a convenient treatment that provides many benefits? Try including facial masks in your skincare routine. As well as providing hydration and brightening, they can also help to even out hyperpigmentation, like sun spots.
Facial masks usually take 15-20 minutes and are a great way of providing your skin with an intensive boost of support. In addition, many contain vitamin C or hyaluronic acid. The latter is also a great way to battle sun spots, especially when combined with brighteners.
How to Use Facial Masks
There are several types of facial masks, including cream, sheet, bubble, and mud-based varieties. The exact application method will vary, but you should always start with cleansed skin. Choose your favorite cleanser and follow the instructions. This will prepare your face to absorb all the nutrients in the facial mask and give you maximum benefits.
After removing the mask carefully, it's time to hydrate your skin. Choose a moisturizing cream that works for your skin and gently apply it. Your skin will look and feel great, and the active ingredients can get to work on your sun spots.
Effective Treatment for Sun Spots on Your Skin
Getting sun spots on your skin is an unfortunate sign of premature aging, but don't despair! You can take many steps to protect your skin and treat sun spots as they appear.
At Minou & Lily, we have curated a wide range of the finest Asian sunscreens and skincare products. These brands understand the challenges caused by UV rays and produce outstanding products. They can even out your skin tone and help you regain that youthful glow!
Check out our range of essences and serums today!