Age Spots: It’s A Lifestyle Thing
The sun has finally come out. Hallelujah! But while it may also be the swimwear season, it is also the ‘sun spot’ season: the time when we all need to be reminded to take some savvy lifestyle steps to guard against a problem which many women find deeply distressing.
Actually, if asked which beauty concern tops women’s list of woes, you might reply ‘lines and wrinkles’ – but you’d be wrong. Because it transpires (and this is backed up by research by none other than Clinique) that what actually bothers women most isn’t expression lines – it’s pigmentation. We might actually not have believed it ourselves if we hadn’t spent some time, a while back, offering back-to-back one-on-one ‘anti-ageing’ consultations with real women, in Selfridges.
As we sat in the chair ‘speed-consulting’ with women (15 minutes each), it rapidly became clear: we may not love our lines and wrinkles, but we’ve learned to live with them – the badges of triumphs, tragedies, tears and hysterical fits of giggles. But age spots? Without exception, the women we were chatting to found them deeply distressing.
In one way, we can understand this sense of injustice. After all, the generation currently bothered by sun spots – because that’s what they really are – grew up at a time when sun damage was not only not understood, but some magazine articles actually encouraged them to bake outdoors with tinfoil reflectors bouncing damaging UV rays onto their faces. (Yes, really.) Today, any beauty-savvy woman knows not to put her face in the sun (or not with anything less than an SPF30). So it may well be that the next generation coming up isn’t afflicted in the same way.
However, quite aside from treating the problem – see our shortlist of effective products below, there are important lifestyle steps that we can all take to guard against the appearance of age spots, to stop them getting any worse if we do have them. And even to ‘reverse’ them, with the right products.
Never venture out without an SPF30 or over. And please start right now. This is non-negotiable; it should prevent any age/sun spots that you have from getting any worse, and may actually go some way towards fading them. Hand creams with a built-in SPF can also be incredibly helpful on the backs of hands/forearms; if you tend to spend a lot of time outdoors, do apply sunscreen regularly to these vulnerable zones, and remember to reapply after washing hands.
Wear a hat. If you have sun spots, or want to avoid them, we also advise: get yourself a fabulous, stylish collection of fairly tightly-woven straw hats, and keep on a peg near your door/s for easy grabbing when you go out on a summer day. Not a baseball cap, because the brims aren’t big enough (plus they miss your ears which are very vulnerable). Wide-armed, large-lensed sunglasses are also a boon.
Choose your sunglasses with age spot protection in mind. Forget skinny wire frames; channel your inner Jackie O and go for the widest arms and biggest lenses you can find.
Be careful with fragrance. Certain perfume ingredients – particularly those derived from citrus (such as bergamot) – can interact with sunlight to cause permanent pigmentation problems, in the form of ‘staining’ of the skin, with dark streaks or patches (typically on the neck and chest, where perfume is spritzed or splashed. So in summer, we counsel that it’s safest to apply perfume to skin for evening only, rather than daytime – or put it where the sun won’t shine directly. (Try spritzing your clothes; fabric carries fragrance beautifully. But first spray a tissue to check there’s no staining from the liquid, which might affect light-coloured clothes.)
Add targeted products to your anti-age-spot arsenal. Notably iS Clinical White Lightening Complex, Sarah Chapman Skinesis Skin Tone Perfecting Booster and the Beauty Bible Award-winning Temple Spa Skin Truffle (as well as their Be Clear product, which is specifically designed to even out skintone). There’s also a new generation of anti-ageing products designed for hands, including Aurelia Probiotic Skincare Aromatic Repair & Brighten Hand Cream, and Margaret Dabbs Intensive Anti-Ageing Hand Serum, which scooped a coveted CEW Award this year.
Follow instructions to the letter. If you want to get optimum results, use according to manufacturer’s instructions. You may need a magnifying glass to read the instructions – but that’s too bad; to quote Nike, ‘Just. Do. It.’, before you throw out the box and leaflet. When women tell us ‘oh, so-and-so products don’t work’, we like to dig a little deeper – and generally discover they’re only using them every few days, rather than ritually. Age spots are a beauty challenge that require a diligent approach, daily (or twice daily) – and don’t expect overnight miracles; you’re probably looking at three months to see real results (which is longer than ‘miracle creams’ take to work on lines and wrinkles). If the product is spot-targeted, use a cotton bud to apply it to the affected areas.