Preventing future melanin deposits from forming is extra motivation to wear sunscreen now. And, although you can’t go back in time and slather it on your 16-year-old self (who probably would have preferred baby oil), there’s a growing arsenal of skin-care products and treatments that can help diminish your sun damage. Here are three increasingly aggressive ways to get clarity:
LEVEL 1 Look for a serum containing mulberry, bearberry, licorice root, or lemon. These botanicals all have brightening properties, as do these heavy-hitters: kojic acid, azelaic acid, vitamin C, and alpha hydroxy acids. You’ll pay around $100 for a good one. Use brightening serums religiously, and only at night, since they make skin sensitive to light and therefore more sun damage.
LEVEL 2 Peels and microdermabrasion. Exfoliation with fruit acids and enzymes or the diamond-tipped wand of a microderm machine can help fade spots. By speeding up the shedding of blotchy skin (it happens naturally every 28 days), you reveal brighter skin beneath. You’ll need to do several of these treatments (about $100-$150 each) in close proximity to see results, which is why they’re typically sold in series.
LEVEL 3 The Fraxel re:fine laser. It makes pixel-like micro-wounds that resurface the skin, taking dark spots with them (along with fine lines). You’ll want to lay low for 2 or 3 days after the medical-spa treatment, which costs about $800. An investment, for sure, but there’s no doubting its effectiveness.
And Melisse Gelula implores you: If you’re using skin-brightening products, you must also use an SPF 30 sunscreen every day or you’re just inviting more sun damage.