Freckles, solar lentigo, liver spots... whatever you call them, these alterations in skin pigmentation are likely to affect us all as we get older. Studies indicate that pigmentation problems are up there with wrinkles and loss of skin tone as a major cause for concern for women today.
Anybody, whatever their age and skin type, is a potential 'victim', but clearly the problem gets worse as we age, and tends to affect delicate and fair skins more. Around a third of women in their 40s are affected, and as many as 95% of those over 50. The blemishes are an indication of melanin concentration, and the main causes are a build up of sun damage, hormonal changes and simple ageing. The effects of UV radiation are cumulative so, as we age, we begin to pay for the excesses of our youth in the form of freckles, age spots and skin-colour irregularities. Unsurprisingly, the marks are particularly noticeable in areas generally most exposed, such as face, neck and hands.
Using high-factor sun cream is a way of preventing or postponing the problems, but for many of us the problems already exist and we're looking for a solution. There is no quick-fix solution, so arm yourself with patience, and consider the different possible approaches. A skin-lightening product applied at night will lessen the existing spots and help to curb excess melanin. By day, even when the first blemishes have started to appear, it's essential to carry on using a good broad-spectrum sun cream – one that protects from both UVA and UVB rays – to prevent the problems getting worse. A self-tanner, applied every two or three days, will add a touch of all-over colour and disguise the patches by evening out the skin-tone without any of the risks of exposure to the sun. Chemical peels can help, too, but should be carried out by a skilled practitioner who will assess each spot and skin-type before calibrating the treatment accordingly.