How to Prevent Age Spots: 8 Tips & Strategies

You can learn how to prevent age spots and maintain youthful skin. It’s easy to follow these expert tips on sun protection, skincare, and more for healthy, spot-free skin.

Hand holding bottle of sunscreen on beach

Age spots, also known as liver spots or solar lentigines, are flat, darkened patches of skin. They commonly appear on areas exposed to the sun, like the face, hands, shoulders, and arms.

While age spots are harmless, many people don’t like how they look and want to avoid getting them. So let’s talk about some tips and strategies to help you prevent age spots.

1. Limit Sun Exposure

One of the best ways to prevent age spots is to limit your exposure to the sun. Ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun are a major contributor to making age spots form.

If you love being out in sunny weather, here are a few things you can do.

  • Wear Sunscreen: Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher every day, even on cloudy days. Reapply every two hours, especially if you’re spending time outdoors.
  • Seek Shade: Whenever possible, seek shade during peak sun hours (10 am to 4 pm). This helps reduce direct exposure to UV rays.
  • Cover Up: Wear protective clothing such as long-sleeved shirts, wide-brimmed hats, and sunglasses to shield your skin from the sun.

2. Use Retinoids

Retinoids are a class of compounds derived from vitamin A. They’ve proven effective in improving skin health and reducing the appearance of age spots.

They work by increasing cell turnover and promoting the growth of new skin cells. The problem? They make your skin much more sensitive to the sun, so you’ll need to avoid the sun while using them.

  • Over-the-counter Retinol: Look for skincare products containing retinol, a milder form of retinoids that is available without a prescription. Include it as part of your skincare routine to help prevent age spots.
  • Prescription Retinoids: Consult a dermatologist for prescription-strength retinoids, such as tretinoin or tazarotene, which may be more effective in addressing age spots and other signs of aging.

3. Avoid Tanning Beds

It should go without saying if you need to avoid the sun, you should also skip the tanning sessions. But there was a myth for decades, spread by dermatologists, that tanning beds were safer than the sun.

This isn’t true. Dermatologists now advise avoiding the sun for the most part. Some say 15 minutes of exposure per day is okay. None of mine recommend tanning beds. Here’s why:

  • UV Intensity: Tanning beds emit concentrated UV rays that can be much stronger than natural sunlight, leading to accelerated skin damage.
  • Increased Age Spot Risk: Regular use of tanning beds can significantly increase the likelihood of developing age spots and other signs of premature aging.
  • Skin Cancer Risk: Tanning beds are a known carcinogen and can increase the risk of developing skin cancer, including melanoma.

4. Regularly Exfoliate

Exfoliation is an important skincare step that helps remove dead skin cells and promotes cell turnover, reducing the appearance of age spots. Consider the following exfoliation methods:

  • Chemical Exfoliants: Incorporate alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) or beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs) into your skincare routine. These chemical exfoliants help gently remove dead skin cells and reveal a brighter complexion.
  • Physical Exfoliants: Use gentle physical exfoliators, such as scrubs or brushes, to slough off dead skin cells. However, be cautious not to over-exfoliate, as it can lead to irritation and damage the skin.

If you have very sensitive skin, note that even a washcloth can actually be a form of exfoliant. That’s something a dermatologist told me years ago.

5. Moisturize Regularly

Proper hydration and moisturization are essential for maintaining healthy skin and preventing age spots. Here’s what you should do:

  • Choose the Right Moisturizer: Opt for a moisturizer that suits your skin type. Look for ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and ceramides, which help lock in moisture.
  • Apply Moisturizer Twice Daily: After cleansing your face, apply moisturizer in the morning and evening to keep your skin hydrated and supple.
  • Consider Serums: Incorporate serums with antioxidants or skin-brightening ingredients into your routine to further prevent age spots.

6. Quit Smoking

Smoking not only harms your overall health but also negatively affects your skin’s appearance and accelerates the aging process. Here’s how smoking contributes to age spots:

  • Reduced Blood Flow: Smoking constricts blood vessels, reducing blood flow to the skin. This can lead to a dull complexion and increased risk of age spots.
  • Harmful Chemicals: Cigarette smoke contains harmful chemicals that can damage collagen and elastin, leading to sagging skin and increased vulnerability to age spots.
  • Delayed Healing: Smoking impairs wound healing, making it harder for your skin to recover from sun damage and other environmental stressors.

7. Consider Laser Treatments or Chemical Peels

If you already have age spots or want more aggressive treatment options, consult a dermatologist for laser treatments or chemical peels. These procedures can help lighten or remove age spots effectively. Here’s what you should know:

  • Laser Treatments: Laser therapy uses intense light energy to target and break down the pigment in age spots, allowing them to fade gradually over time.
  • Chemical Peels: Chemical peels involve applying a chemical solution to the skin, causing it to exfoliate and peel off. This process reveals new, smoother skin with reduced pigmentation.

8. Stay Consistent with Skincare Routine

Consistency is key when it comes to preventing age spots. Establishing a daily skincare routine and sticking to it can yield long-term benefits. Here’s what you should keep in mind:

  • Cleansing: Cleanse your face twice daily to remove dirt, oil, and pollutants that can contribute to age spots.
  • Toners and Serums: Incorporate toners and serums with skin-brightening or antioxidant properties into your routine to enhance the effectiveness of other products.
  • Sun Protection: Always wear sunscreen as the final step in your skincare routine, even on cloudy days.