It was when I hit my forties I noticed the first signs of sun stress – brown spots appearing on my face and the backs of my hands. It’s so ageing, but with effort it’s possible to reduce the effect.
Need to know
Pigmentation isn’t only a mature woman’s issue. Jody Burke, creator of Xcell Pure Medical Skincare, says she treats women from their twenties upwards. While it can be caused by hormonal changes and injury to the skin, by far the biggest culprit in this country is the sun.
Year-round use of a sunblock that contains zinc (try Invisible Zinc Face & Body $29.99) is your first line of defence when it comes to keeping brown at bay. And Jody treats lots of darker Asian and Maori skins, as well as fair.
- A course of IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) is the quickest way to get rid of brown spots. They literally start flaking off. The downside? It’s mildly uncomfortable being zapped and it is crucial to wear sunscreen forever afterwards, otherwise they’ll return in no time. This treatment isn’t suited to darker skins.
- Light skin peels using natural acids and medical strength vitamin A are effective, even for darker skins, but too strong a peel can risk increasing the damage.
- Dermapen was developed to boost collagen production but it’s also proving useful for brown patches and scar tissue. Since it involves tiny injuries to the skin, Jody says you should expect to look terrible for about four days before you see a positive change.
- These treatments should be combined with regular use of skin serums – a combination of products containing lactic acid and vitamin A is Jody’s pick. It’s important to note over-the-counter products are never going to have the potency of those prescribed by your dermatologist.
Ways to fade
Once skin has accumulated pigmentation, Jody says it becomes thickened, almost like scar tissue, and any lotions or potions you apply won’t absorb well enough, so in-clinic treatments are advised. Four products to try:
- Xcell Ultimate A $133 and XCell Flawless $102 provide the combination of lactic acid and vitamin A that Jody recommends for visible results.
- Lancôme DreamTone $138 – a tinted pigment corrector tailored to fair, medium or dark skin types that instantly increases luminosity and treats brown spots over time.
- Trilogy Botanical Lightening Treatment $48.90 – the natural option to reduce the intensity of age spots. Contains Gigawhite, a natural brightener formulated from plant extracts.
- Garnier Dark Spot Treatment Night Serum $17.49 – this supermarket buy blends brightening vitamin C with skin-resurfacing glycolic acid, plus moringa oil and glycerine for hydration.
Take a look at our favourite winter lipsticks here.