Brown spots, which are caused by excess melanin, can be the result of sun exposure, aging, genetics, and even pollution. The sun stimulates melanocyte cells to produce more pigment, which then gets transferred to skin cells and brown spots appear. Hydroquinone, a strong bleaching agent, was among the most frequently recommended treatments. But overuse of hydroquinone, though, can kill melanocytes and cause permanently discolored skin especially for those with darker skin. It’s critical to use hydroquinone only under a doctor’s supervision. Hydroquinone has been banned in Europe but is still available here.
As a result of hydroquinone’s side effects, the newest products contain ingredients that treat existing spots while also halting tyrosinase, an enzyme that controls melanin production. Products with vitamin C for brightening, arbutin and peptides to inhibit tyrosinase, and peroxy acid to break up existing melanin are recommended.
An example of a skin whitening system is: Dermalogica’s Power Bright TRx system—C-12 Pure Bright Serum , Pure Light SPF 50 , and Pure Night —contains peptides and vitamin C. The peptides are like cell whisperers; they tell melanocytes to slow down.”
The best way to get rid of sun spots is with lasers. Typically a scab coffee ground in texture will form on the treated area and fall off in about a week. Exfoliation can help release much of the brown pigment and brighten overall tone. A word of caution though. If you don’t protect your face from the sun, the brown spots will come back. If you are using a brightening system or using lasers, be sure to wear sunscreen religiously and re apply every 2 hours.