Years of sun-worshipping may have turned you into a golden goddess, but damage due to increased melanin production can lead to sunspots, freckles and blotchy skin, especially on your chest. “Sunspots are lesions—they’re typically brown—that develop with age and long-term sun exposure,” explains Norwalk, CT, dermatologist Deanne Mraz Robinson, MD.
In addition to dark spots, white patches can also be a cause for concern. “It’s ironic that sun damage gives both brown and white spots,” says Beverly Hills, CA dermatologist Ava Shamban, MD. “This condition has a name it is called poikiloderma of Civatte, which essentially means many different skin colors. These white spots are particularly resistant to treatment, but they can be addressed.”
The good news is you don’t have to live with a spotty décolleté forever, as these doctor-approved fixes can reduce the spots and restore your natural glow.
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Prevent further damage with a sunscreen that brightens skin.
According to San Diego plastic surgeon Larry Pollack, MD, the best way to treat existing sunspots is by protecting your skin from the sun’s harmful rays. “Superficial sunspots can be treated best with preventive measures, including good sunscreens and protective clothing.” Hampton Sun Age-Defying SPF 50 Mineral Crème ($52) combines natural fruit extracts, like grapefruit, lemon, tangerine and orange, with antioxidants to correct uneven skin tone while protecting delicate skin from further damage.
Avoid white spots with a mineral sunscreen that protects the neck and chest.
“We love physical blockers, so titanium or zinc sunscreens are a must,” adds Prospect, KY dermatologist Tami Buss Cassis, MD. “Elta MD UV Shield Broad Spectrum SPF 45 for Face and Body ($27) is great example of that type of sunscreen. I always remind everyone to wear sunscreen on your chest to prevent both dark spots and the white spots.”
Lighten dark spots with a blend of natural bleaching agents.
To reduce the look of sunspots, hydroquinone, which inhibits melanin production, may be prescribed by your doctor. While effective, there are hydroquinone-free options that are helpful in lightening dark spots, too. Good nonhydroquinone-based lighteners include arbutin, niacinamide (vitamin B3) and kojic acid. SkinMedica Lytera 2.0 Pigment Correcting Serum ($154) is free of hydroquinone and relies on a marine extract blend and niacinamide to lighten spots without irritation.
Exfoliate away rough, discolored skin and increase cell turnover.
In-office chemical peels and exfoliating treatments work to remove the top layer of dead skin to erase sunspots. “Acid peels, like a trichloroacetic acid (TCA) peel, are effective in reducing pigmentation and improving skin tone,” says Dr. Pollack. At-home peels and exfoliators aren’t as strong, but can lighten sunspots, too. Inspired by in-office microdermabrasion, Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Resurfacing Micro-Exfoliant ($55) contains grapeseed extract microparticles that refresh and renew darkened skin.
Improve skin luminosity with a brightening cream.
Much of the sun’s damage is due to oxidative stress that accelerates the skin’s aging process, resulting in wrinkles, sunspots, loss of elasticity and dull, dry skin. In addition to increased melanin production, UV exposure also causes the collagen and elastin in the deeper layers of the skin to break down, giving it less support. Formulated with vitamin E and rose otto oil, EVE LOM Brightening Cream ($110) helps speed up the rate of repair, increase skin elasticity and diminish dullness and discoloration.
Target stubborn sunspots with a skin-rejuvenation treatment.
In-office light-based and laser treatments work wonders at targeting spots and improving skin tone. According to Baton Rouge, LA, dermatologist Ann Zedlitz, MD, an Intense Pulse Light (IPL) or Broadband Light (BBL), treatment can remove bothersome spots on your chest. “The light energy delivered by the BBL (used on Dr. Zedlitz’ patient seen here) heats up the skin’s upper layers, stimulating skin cells to generate new collagen, which helps restore youthful skin by eliminating pigment, sunspots and broken blood vessels that cause redness.”
“I find sunspots are best addressed by IPL followed by a Fraxel treatment, as radio-frequency microneedling devices will not work,” adds Dr. Shamban. “In addition to IPL and laser treatments, we also apply topical platelet-rich plasma (PRP) after the laser to help improve the result and healing.”