With aging comes those frustrating dark spots on the face and body. But aging isn't the only cause for spots. Too much UV light exposure is the real cause of those age spots, and that also includes tanning beds—ultimately a no-no for our skin.
The science behind age spots is based around melanin, the pigment in the outer layer of skin that gives us color. When too much melanin concentrates in one patch or small area, we see a dark spot there.
13 Natural Age Spot Treatments
Sun protection is, of course, the most important part of preventing age spots. But for some people, the damage is already done. Even though you may have overdone it in the sun for several years, there are still ways to reduce the appearance of these unwanted spots.
Store-bought serums and creams can be very expensive and harsh. So we did the research, and here are 13 remedies for treating age spots and whitening skin [source].
1. Lemon juice
Lemons play a major part in beauty treatments, including age spots. Lemon contains rejuvenating antioxidants, and its citric acid speeds up cellular turnover, essentially acting as a bleach against dark spots.
How does this work? Vitamin C in lemons blocks tyrosinase, an enzyme that is important in skin pigment production [source].
Lemon spot treatment
Apply a slice of lemon directly to the skin for 15 minutes twice a day. If you have sensitive skin, dilute lemon juice in water or rose water. Expect results within 2 months, and try to avoid the sun after application.
Easy lemon face cream
-2 tablespoons plain yogurt
-Juice from ½ a lemon
Mix together and massage into age spots. Leave on for 20–30 minutes and then rinse. Repeat 3 times a week. Keep leftovers in a lidded container in the refrigerator for 7–10 days.
We've discussed the beauty benefits of turmeric more than once because it truly is such an amazing ingredient. And by inhibiting pigment production [source], curcumin (one of the primary components of turmeric) also lightens age spots, scars, and other discolorations.
-2 tablespoons milk or rice water
-2 tablespoons flour
-½ teaspoon organic turmeric powder
Mix the ingredients together and use it as a face mask, or just dab the mixture onto dark spots with your ring finger. Leave it on for 20 minutes and then rinse with warm water.
Apply 2–3 times a week. Keep any leftovers in a lidded container in the refrigerator for 7–10 days.
-1 teaspoon organic turmeric powder
-2 teaspoon raw honey
Mix into a paste. Dab the mixture onto dark spots with your ring finger. Leave it on for 20 minutes and then rinse. Repeat 3 times a week.
3. Hydrogen peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is a natural bleaching agent that's great for getting rid of dark spots.
Just mix equal amounts of hydrogen peroxide and whole milk and apply to dark spots with a cotton pad. Let it sit for 15 minutes, then rinse. It's a good idea to patch test for sensitivity before doing a full application.
Parsley is well-known in the beauty world for its skin-lightening properties [source], making it useful for dark spots and discolored skin. The herb is rich in apiol, a compound that, when applied to the skin, acts like a mild bleaching agent to break down excess pigment.
Lightening face mask
-1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
-½ teaspoon baking soda
-1 tablespoon yogurt
-1 teaspoon finely chopped parsley
-2 teaspoons honey
-1 teaspoon lemon juice
Combine the ingredients. Apply the mask to your face, neck, and chest for 15 minutes, then rinse. Repeat twice a week.
Parsley spot treatment
-1 teaspoon chopped parsley
-2 teaspoons sour cream
-1 teaspoon honey
Combine the ingredients, and dot the mixture onto age spots. Let it sit for at least 15 minutes, then rinse. Repeat 2–3 times a week.
5. Buttermilk or yogurt
Buttermilk, yogurt, and milk all contain lactic acid, which naturally and gently exfoliates the skin [source] to remove blemishes and brown spots.
Simply apply directly to spots, leave on for a few minutes, and then rinse.
If your skin is oily or acne-prone, add a little lemon or lime juice to the mixture to avoid over-moisturizing:
Triple lightening face mask
-½ teaspoon turmeric
-1 teaspoon lemon juice
-2 teaspoons plain yogurt
Apply to spots and leave on for 15 minutes, then rinse. Repeat 2–3 times a week.
6. Apple cider vinegar
Here, again, is another excellent use for apple cider vinegar. Thanks to the fact that it’s a natural skin resurfacing agent, it helps shed dead skin cells and reduce the appearance of age spots.
Green tea is loaded with antioxidants to treat and help prevent sun damage [source], while the apple cider vinegar exfoliates to even out skin tone.
-¾ cup steeped green tea
-¼ cup apple cider vinegar
After steeping a green tea bag in hot water, allow the tea to cool to room temperature, and then discard the tea bag. Add the apple cider vinegar and mix.
You can apply the toner with a cotton ball or spritz with a spray bottle. Store the remainder in the refrigerator for no longer than 10 days.
Mix 1 part apple cider vinegar, 1 part water, and a touch of honey and apply over age spots once a day (let it soak in for 20–30 minutes before rinsing).
7. Papaya or pineapple
Tropical fruits have plenty of benefits for our skin. Both papaya and pineapple contain enzymes and alpha-hydroxy acids that work to remove blemishes, reduce age spots, and even treat acne [source].
Pineapple/Papaya age spot mask
Combine ¼ cup chopped fresh pineapple (you can also use canned pineapple) or papaya with 1 tablespoon of coconut milk. Apply the mask evenly over your face, neck, and chest, and let it sit for 10–15 minutes. Rinse, pat dry, and slather on moisturizer.
Don't overdo it with a mask like this; once a week is plenty. And since you are removing a layer of dead skin cells, you might be extra sensitive to UV light exposure—so be sure to stay out of the sun and apply SPF daily.
Sandalwood powder is useful for lightening acne scars on your face. Sandalwood speeds healing and lightens hyperpigmentation. It is known to even out the skin tone by inhibiting the enzyme that produces skin pigment [source].
Age spot oil
Combine 3 drops of sandalwood essential oil with 1 tablespoon of olive oil or almond oil. Rub the mixture into age spots each night before going to bed and leave on overnight.
Sandalwood face mask
Mix a pinch of sandalwood powder with turmeric powder (for its known skin bleaching ability), and add water or hydrosol to make a thick paste. Apply it to any areas of scarring or discoloration, and rinse after 20 minutes.
This herb contains both vitamin C, which slows the production of melanin, and glucosinolates, which increase circulation and flush waste from the body.
For a quick recipe, apply a horseradish paste on the skin for 15 minutes and rinse. You can do this a few times a week to combat those spots.
For more problematic spots, grate one piece of horseradish 4–5 inches long and combine with ½ cup of apple cider vinegar, and then place the mixture in a glass jar. Mix well and leave for 2 weeks, shaking the mixture once a day.
After 2 weeks, apply it to your spots 3 times a day for 1 month. Refrigerate the mixture.
Ginger is a potent anti-inflammatory that is known to combat aging [source]. One of its primary antioxidant compounds, shogaol, helps break down built-up melanin to fade discoloration [source]. It also helps protect the skin from UV rays, preventing sun damage that leads to the formation of new spots over time.
-½ teaspoon powdered ginger
-2 teaspoons jojoba oil
Combine the ingredients and apply to spots; rinse after 15 minutes. Use 3 times a week.
-½-inch fresh ginger root, grated
-1 ounce hot water
-½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar
Steep ginger root in hot water, then strain. Combine ginger water with apple cider vinegar in a lidded jar. Apply the mixture to dark spots nightly. Store your toner in the refrigerator for 7–10 days.
Alpha-hydroxy acids in pumpkin increase cell turnover to even out skin tone. Plus, its vitamin C inhibits the production of melanin, preventing new age spots from forming.
-1 tablespoon pumpkin puree
-1 tablespoon plain yogurt
Mix the ingredients and apply to your face in any area of skin discoloration. Let it sit for 15 minutes and rinse. Repeat 2–3 times a week.
12. Licorice root
Licorice root's unique compounds break down melanin to fade age spots while encouraging cell turnover to reveal brighter, more even skin underneath. The plant's antioxidants can treat damaged skin and help new discoloration from forming [source].
-3 licorice tea bags
-3 cups water
Steep tea bags in water, and remove them after 10 minutes. Let the tea cool and dot it onto age spots, apply as a face mask, or simply soak your hands. Leave the solution on for 10 minutes and rinse. Repeat twice a week.
13. Rice water
Rice and rice water are popular in many parts of Asia for this small, unassuming grain's ability to nurture skin and especially for how it deals with age spots and pigmentation. Combined with lemon juice for exfoliation, these 2 common ingredients go a long way to brighten and even out skin tone.
Brightening rice water hand soak
-¼ cup cooked rice
-½ tablespoon agave nectar
-½ tablespoon lemon juice
-1 cup water
Ideally, this hand soak should be done at nighttime due to the photosensitivity caused by lemon juice.
In a blender, combine the rice, agave nectar, and lemon juice. Transfer to a large bowl and mix with 1 cup of water.
Use the soak by dipping your hands in the bowl and rubbing in small circular motions all over the backs of your hands. Use light pressure for 1–2 minutes, and then allow it to soak for several more minutes before rinsing with warm water. Pat dry and follow with the rice milk toner below.
Rice Milk Toner
-1 cup rice
-2 cups water
-Spray bottle or jar
Over high heat, combine 1 cup of rice with 2 cups of water. Leave uncovered. Since you don’t want the water to evaporate completely, like when cooking rice for a meal, you’ll want to keep your eye on the pot.
Once it comes to a boil, reduce the heat and let it simmer for 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the pot from the stove—the consistency of the rice mixture should be a bit soupy now. Strain out the water into a bowl or mug, and discard the rice.
Transfer this rice milk into a spray bottle or glass jar. Store it in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. After your hand soak, spritz this toner on the backs of your hands, or use a cotton round to apply it and follow with moisturizer.
This post was medically reviewed by Dr. Rina Mary Allawh, M.D., a dermatologist who practices adult and pediatric medical dermatology, skin cancer treatment, and cosmetic dermatology. Learn more about Hello Glow's medical reviewers here. As always, this is not personal medical advice, and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.71
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