The focus for most anti-aging treatments tends to circle around wrinkle-reducing creams and sun care for the face and neck. Unfortunately, the chest and hands—two areas highly exposed to the elements—are often forgotten. Over time, the neglect is bound to show and voila, more sun spots on your chest and hands pop up.
For the most part, these brown spots are harmless, though studies do show that they impact perception of age, meaning others are likely to estimate you’re older than your birth certificate says. This is the reason Hollywood makeup artists will often paint sun spots on an actor’s hands, face, or chest to instantly age their appearance. Unlike those actors, though, you can’t simply wash off your sun spots, but we have you covered. Keep reading to discover how you can remove sun spots from your chest and hands.
Prevention at this stage—assuming the title of this article is what led you here—is likely the last thing on your mind, but it’s a necessary first step to halt damage and ensure that faded sun spots stay that way. While there may be other factors that increase one’s likelihood of developing brown spots, sun exposure is the usual culprit. It seems silly to keep repeating ourselves but this really is the best anti-aging tip we all need to follow but many of us just don’t: wear sunscreen! Regardless of the season, the weather, how long you’ll be outside, or any other excuse you’ve considered to skip the SPF, if you’re not covering up skin with adequate fabric, you need to apply sunscreen. This is especially true for the face, chest, and hands, as they’re considered high exposure areas. You may not see the results today, but you’ll be happy you did it a decade from now, when sun spots usually start to show their true color. Apply a sunscreen with a minimum SPF 15 (higher if you tend to burn easily) and reapply every two hours, or after swimming, excessive sweating, or washing your hands. If you’re prone to forgetfulness, input a reminder on your phone or in your day planner, and stash extra sunscreen in your purse, car, or desk to ensure you’re never without it.
Some all-natural beauty enthusiasts swear by the use of fresh lime or lemon slices to gradually fade sun spots and pigmentation on the chest or hands. Patience and the ability to form a habit rather easily is key in seeing results with this method, as it generally takes several months to work effectively. Yogurt is another at-home remedy touted for its ability to help repair damaged skin. Yogurt’s lactic acid content helps to gently strip away the top layer of skin, similar to a facial peel, promoting new cell turnover and eventually fading sun spots. Another option may be the application of natural materials that contain vitamins C and E, which are known for their ability to fight free radical damage caused by the sun and other environmental factors.
At this time, all-natural at-home treatments for sun spots are mostly only supported by anecdotal evidence. As well, some of the more acidic DIY treatments, like lemons, risk a bleaching effect on those with darker skin tones, so it’s best to consult a dermatologist before following through with any at-home treatments for sun spots.
The most effective topical treatments for sun spots on the chest and hands feature hydroquinone (up to 2% concentration over-the-counter, or 4% concentration by prescription) teamed up with a retinoid for exfoliation and improved cell turnover. A bleaching agent, hydroquinone must be applied carefully to sun spots alone using a precise application tool, such as a cotton wand or small makeup application brush like an eyeliner brush. For those weary of hydroquinone, topical anti-aging creams and serums that contain soy, kojic acid, niacinamide, ellagic acid, or liquorice may help to break up age spots and discoloration, and even out skin tone.
An important note: Avoid all skin lightening products or sun spot treatments containing mercury at all costs. These can cause serious health problems for you and anyone you come into contact with. While there are regulations on these products, a study by dermatologists of 549 skin lighteners purchased from U.S. store shelves or ordered online found that 12% of those available in the U.S. contained some level of mercury—and half of that 12% were found on U.S. store shelves. Aside from keeping an eye out for ingredients with “mercuric” in the name, you’ll also want to avoid calomel, cinnabaris, hydrargyri oxydum rubrum, and quicksilver.
Chemical peels are one option for treating age spots on the chest but they may not be the best option for hands. Chemical peels utilize an acid to remove the outer layer of the skin down to the sun spots. This outer layer of skin then peels away and new skin is generated, effectively repairing previous skin damage through the proliferation of new skin cells. For best results, multiple treatments are required. Note that those with darker skin tones are most at risk of complications.
For those with lighter skin tones, Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) photofacial treatments for the chest and hands may be your best bet. Often referred to as “photofacials,” these IPL treatments can also be utilized elsewhere on the body, like the chest and hands, to reduce the appearance of pigmentation and sun damage. Delivering bursts of light through multiple layers of the skin, these treatments target and break down the pockets of melanin that form sun spots while leaving surrounding tissue undamaged for a clearer, more even-toned complexion.
For those looking to fade sun spots on the face and chest, complete skin renewal treatments that offer three different aesthetic treatments in one session—such as photofacial, anti-aging, and skin resurfacing—may fit the bill. Combining advanced radio frequency and IPL technologies into one complete three-step session, these treatments are the ultimate multi-taskers, fading sun spots alongside other signs of sun damage and premature aging, like fine lines and wrinkles, enlarged pores, textural irregularities, visible veins, and more.
While sun spots are rarer for those with a little more melanin in their skin, treating the dark spots that do pop up on the face, chest, or hands can be much trickier. For those considering IPL treatments, know that you may be at higher risk of treatment complications depending on your Fitzpatrick skin type. To be safe, consult a certified treatment provider before committing to any treatment to ensure you’re making the right choice for your skin. A certified provider will be able to properly define your skin type, treat a discrete test patch, and monitor your skin’s reaction to ensure it’s safe before beginning a complete treatment.
To learn more about the benefits of photofacial treatments for removing sun spots on the chest and hands, or to discuss whether you’re an ideal candidate for these treatments, locate a certified photofacial treatment provider near you today using the search field below.