The Steps to Spotless Skin

While some learn to love those tiny brown spots on the tip of the nose, cheeks and shoulders, others look for anything to fade freckled skin. Thankfully, you can lighten unwanted freckles and spots instead of just covering them up with makeup. And, obtaining brighter, smoother, spot-free skin may be easier than you think.

Protect and Prevent
With a medical name like ephelides, it’s no surprise that freckles get a bad rap. While “simple freckles,” the tiny brown spots on your skin you have had since birth, are harmless, lentigines, or “sunburn freckles,” need to be taken more seriously. Usually larger in size, more red in color and with an irregular border, these spots are sure signs of sun damage. No matter how old you were when you first noticed your freckles, sun exposure can only make them darker and greater in number. The easiest way to prevent freckles from forming is by using sunscreen. “I recommend applying sunscreen with at least an SPF of 30,” says New York and Miami dermatologist Fredric S. Brandt, MD. “No product will effectively lighten skin without the use of sunscreen on a daily basis.” 

On the Bright Side
Over-the-counter brighteners can help to even out freckles and spots for more evenly toned skin. Packing the power of L-ascorbic acid and daisy flower extract in an exfoliating base, used weekly, Arcona Brightening Gommage ($52) helps to reduce the appearance of spots, leaving the skin looking luminous and glowing. Another discoloration fader to try is Sampar Spot Lighter ($45); convenient for those on the go, the enzyme-,citrus- and chamomile-based pen gently fades spotted skin. Plus, it shields the skin from future damage, too, making it an all-around skin-tone perfecter.

Zap Away
For serious long-term freckle fading, laser resurfacing can lighten and retexturize. Unlike chemical peels and microdermabrasion, which just exfoliate, Washington, DC, dermatologist Tina Alster, MD, says pigment-specific lasers, like the Q-switched, Alexandrite and Nd: YAG systems, specifically destroy pigment in the epidermis and dermis to eliminate discoloration with minimal side effects. Fractional resurfacing lasers, like Fraxel, poke tiny holes into the skin to deliver a dose of controlled heat to the deeper layers, eliminating freckles from the inside out. Not a laser, but similar in terms of results, Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) uses broadband light to diminish freckles. Not all lasers are alike, so it’s important your doctor diagnoses your skin accurately prior to treatment.

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