“Sun exposure can cause brown spots, freckles, uneven pigmentation, and melasma, which is related to hormones,” says Sandy Tsao, M.D., procedural director for the Harvard Medical School Department of Dermatology.
WHAT TO DO
• Brighten with natural depigmenting ingredients like licorice root, kojic acid, and vitamin C.
• The best products combine a lightening ingredient with an exfoliator. “Exfoliating skin increases cell turnover and helps the lightening ingredients penetrate better,” says Leslie Baumann, M.D., director of the University of Miami Cosmetic Research Center and author of The Skin Type Solution (Bantam, 2006). Look for a product that has glycolic acid, retinol, or lactic acid or use a gentle physical scrub before applying your lightening product.
• Sunscreen is a must when trying to fade spots (even minimal sun exposure will stimulate melanin activity).