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Dark Spots: What They Are, and How to Fix Them

Posted by Madeleine Franzreb on

There are a lot of beauty products out there for people to lighten, clarify, brighten, or even out their skin tone. Dark spots can be unflattering, and they tend to increase or darken with age, mostly due to sun exposure. Fear not, however - there are ways to mitigate these sneaky spots! Read on to learn about improving your skin beauty regimen when it comes to dark spots and how to treat them.

dark spots

What do people mean when they refer to dark spots?

Commonly called age spots or sunspots, the clinical term for dark spots is lentigines. These are different than freckles, which develop early in life for those that have them. Here is some information on dark spots, according to DermNet NZ, “the most common type, solar lentigines, arise in middle age and also result from sun damage (age spots). They are most often found on the face and hands, and are larger and more defined than freckles. Lentigines tend to persist for long periods and don't disappear in the winter (though they may fade).” Conversely, freckles tend to fade in the winter months (or whenever sun exposure is less), and might become less noticeable as a person ages. There is not really a treatment for freckles, but thankfully, there are ways to make your dark spots less noticeable!

So, how can I treat dark spots?

The most obvious way is to protect against sun exposure, of course. While this won’t make already-existing sun spots go away, it will guard against more (or darker) spots. Melanin is produced in response to sun exposure, and dark spots are a concentrated area of increased melanin, so the relationship makes sense: less sun = fewer, lighter spots.

The second step in combatting dark spots is to address melanin production itself. Tyrosinase is one of the major enzymes that drives melanin production, and it can be inhibited by hydroquinone. Look for a dark spot corrector that contains this active ingredient. In the United States, hydroquinone is available in 2% formulations, and 4% is available by prescription. Hydroquinone is a skin-lightening agent recognized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). There have been questions about its safety in the past - you can read more about it here.

What makes an effective dark spot corrector?

If you have dark spots that bother you, don’t waste time on a fade cream or corrector that doesn’t have effective ingredients. Many options on the shelves only use Vitamin C, for example, and not an active ingredient like hydroquinone. Over time, the effects from these creams and correctors will fade away - not your dark spots! Hydroquinone is clinically proven to lighten skin, so products with this essential ingredient are a great place to start.


We hope you enjoyed learning about the difference between dark spots and freckles, how to treat them, and what to look for when shopping for a fade cream or dark spot corrector. Be sure to follow our blog for more updates to your skin beauty regimen!