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Liver spots can be frustrating but if want to know how to get rid of them, you've come to the right place. Here are the ingredients, treatments and lifestyle changes you need to brighten up your skin and get rid of dark spots, dull skin and patchy skin tone
Never mind wrinkles, one of the biggest concerns for women today is uneven skin tone and how to get rid of liver spots. In fact, searches for ‘hyperpigmentation’ - the broad, all-encompassing term for liver spots, melasma and mottled skin tone- rose by 140 percent during lockdown.
Unlike normal spots on the face (opens in new tab), liver spots show up as dark brown blotches - and are also commonly referred to as dark, age and sunspots. These patches of uneven skin tone are the result of excess melanin production, which is the body’s natural tanning pigment, causing spots or patches that look darker than the rest of your skin to form.
“Hyperpigmentation, age spots, post-acne scarring (opens in new tab) and freckles are all signs of melanin coming to the surface of damaged skin,” explains Dr Murad, Board Certified Dermatologist and Founder of Murad Skincare. “Melanin is produced after the skin experiences trauma, such as UV exposure.
We’ve spoken to the experts for advice on the causes, treatments and at-home products to treat liver spots and other forms of hyperpigmentation.
Do I have liver spots?
Liver spots show up as darker oval patches on the skin. These spots are usually flat, and vary in colour from light to dark brown. Unlike freckles, which will usually fade during the winter months with less exposure to the sun, age spots do not fade.
Dr Hadi Abushaira, senior consultant dermatologist for the NHS, says liver spots can appear in many places: "They're most often found on the face, hands and forearms, and are larger and more defined than freckles," he says. These spots can vary in size, from a small freckle-sized speck to more noticeable blotches, about 1cm in diameter, and can cluster together, which makes them more apparent.
"Liver spots are very common in people over 50, and women are more likely to develop these spots than men," explains Faye Purcell, Product Development Chemist and skincare expert at Q+A. "They tend to be more visible on those with fair complexions. However, people who use tanning beds, or spend a lot of time in the sun without sufficient protection can develop liver spots at a much earlier age."
Dark spots shouldn't hurt or itch, so don't usually pose a health risk. For cosmetic reasons they can be treated, lightened and removed. However, if you notice a spot changing in appearance, then speak to your GP or dermatologist. Get your spot checked out if it's black, bleeding, has increased in size or has an irregular border as these could all be signs of melanoma, a form of skin cancer.
How to get rid of liver spots
If you have liver spots then don't worry, with the right treatments and products they can be lightened or removed. It's a misconception that dark spots 'melt away' - in fact, they need to be moved up and out of the skin, the same as you would with a patch of dry skin or a spot.
It also requires some patience. You need to make sure you give your new regime enough time to work. As Faye Purcell says, "Be consistent with your skincare – a lot of active ingredients need 4-8 weeks for their effects to show so don’t be disheartened if you don’t see results straight away."
1. Q+A Vitamin C Brightening Serum
"Look out for ingredients that enhance cell turn over (chemical exfoliation) or antioxidant ingredients that can protect your skin against pollution, including UV damage," suggests Faye Purcell. "Vitamin C, Azelaic Acid, Alpha Arbutin, AHA’s and Retinoids are all great options if you are looking to reduce the appearance of liver spots." This new super serum contains vitamin C, a potent antioxidant and effective skin-brightener, designed to boost radiance and improve collagen production.
2. L'Oreal Paris Revitalift Laser Renew Ampoules
It’s when melanin migrates to the surface layers of your skin that it appears as dark spots so by shifting those top layers you can help to break up pigmentation. Glycolic acid is revered for its skin-sloughing powers so it’s ideal for mottled complexions. This is a 7-day intensive course of glycolic acid that peels away the upper layer of skin to reinstate a clearer complexion.
VIEW NOW - Boots | £24.99 (opens in new tab)
3. Murad Rapid Dark Spot Correcting Serum
The success of this serum is down to a Tranexamic Acid and Glycolic Acid cocktail, which accelerates surface cell turnover so dull, mottled skin is eventually replaced by fresh, peachy cells. It's backed up by clinically proven results - in trials, 84% of testers showed a visible reduction in the look of dark spots in just 14 days.
VIEW NOW - Murad | £75 (opens in new tab)
4. The Ordinary Ascorbic Acid 8% + Alpha Arbutin 2%
Vitamin C inhibits the production of pigment to prevent dark spots from forming. This solution combines vitamin C with alpha arbutin, another powerful brightening agent, to fade brown spots and improve skin clarity. Apply a few drops morning and evening before your regular moisturiser.
VIEW NOW - Boots | £10 (opens in new tab)
5. Soltan Sensitive Face Cream SPF50+
The best thing you can do to maintain a bright and even complexion is to wear sun cream every day. This is our pick with high factor UVB protection and a 5* UVA defence. Even better, it's enriched with antioxidants to fight the damage that causes pigmentation.
VIEW NOW - Boots | £6.50 (opens in new tab)
6. Laser and IPL treatments
Laser and intense pulsed light therapies (IPL) aim to target pigmentation such as liver spots, without damaging the surrounding tissue.
"My favourite treatment to banish hyperpigmentation has to be Lumecca by InMode," says Dr Dev Patel, leading Aesthetic Doctor with over 17 years of clinical experience. "This is considered by many, to be the most powerful and effective IPL system in the world, yet has surprisingly little or no downtime for most patients."
Nilam Holmes, celebrity skin & beauty specialist, and founder of HD Brows agrees. "I have found I can clear hyperpigmentation by at least 90 per cent within just two treatments using the Lumecca system."
The laser delivers different wavelengths of light into the affected area. The unwanted pigments absorb the light and are effectively destroyed so skin looks clearer.
There's little recovery time needed, your face may feel a little sunburned for about 20 minutes. You'll start to see results after one or two weeks. As long as you look after your skin with a high daily SPF, the results are permanent.
Prices start at £250 per session. Find your nearest practitioner visit Inmode.
Microdermabrasion is similar to dermabrasion, but works at a shallower depth - so, may require more sessions to achieve the desired result.
"Here, we exfoliate only the layers of the epidermis in a controlled manner, so it helps to fight only superficial discolouration," explains Agi. "We can choose from different types of microdermabrasion - diamond, corundum and water-oxygen, aka oxydermabrasion. It is an effective method of removing discolouration and unifying the skin tone, but it only has a very surface effect. So, it will not be used in removing discolouration that is located deeper in the dermis."
This is a much gentler approach to get rid of liver spots than dermabrasion, which physically sloughs down the top layer of skin. This may cause redness, scabbing and sensitivity. Once the surface layer is removed, new skin comes to the fore so your complexion looks clearer and more even.
Agi Demidziuk, Esthetician, atDr Bejma Medical Clinic (opens in new tab) says it is quite an invasive procedure. "Dermabrasion is quite extreme but it can remove deep hyperpigmentation. The healing period of the skin can take weeks, skin can become red, swollen and bruised. It is not recommended for sensitive skin or darker skin types due to the risk of discolouration and scars."
Both of these options are best avoided for those with Rosacea and thread veins.
Prices for microdermabrasion start from around £65 for a single treatment on the face at Sk:n Clinics.
Sometimes referred to as cold therapy, this procedure involves applying a cold swab of liquid nitrogen to the skin. It stays in position for 5-10 seconds to destroy the area of pigmentation, until the skin cells scab over and fall off.
"If you have single or just a few dark spots, live liver spots, this treatment can work magic, but is not suitable for larger area of pigmentation," explains Dr Magdalena Bejma, founder of Dr Bejma Medical Clinic (opens in new tab).
She adds, "This treatment also works well on those with a lighter skin complexion, as there is a risk of permanent discolouration in darker skin types."
But once the dark spot has gone, that's it - permanent clarity, and the treatment takes just a few seconds.
Prices for cryotherapy treatment start at £50 at the Dr Bejma Medical Clinic.
9. Chemical peel
An in-salon chemical peel is a good treatment for stubborn liver spots, and works by applying an acid solution to the face or other areas of the body. This strips the top layers of skin to shed mottled patches and soften pigmentation.
"This is one of my favourite methods for treating skin pigmentation," says Agi Demidziuk, Aesthetician at Dr Bejma Medical Clinic (opens in new tab), "because during this treatment, we are able to remove the existing hyperpigmentation, but also to protect the skin against the formation of new ones, influencing the activity of melanocytes."
Do your research and find the right dermatologist or aesthetician for you. You can search for a trusted doctor or dermatologist on The General Medical Council.
After the peel, you are likely to experience some redness and sensitivity, and it will make your skin more sensitive to the sun, which is why it is often a good idea to delay this treatment until the winter months when sun exposure is a little less intense.
Prices start from around £60 for a mild peel but can range up to £500 for a deeper peel.
10. Virtual dermatologist
If you're not able to make it to a clinic, there are virtual services that may help. We recommend Skin + Me (opens in new tab), a subscription skincare brand that offers personalised treatment plans devised by a team of industry heavyweight dermatologists and pharmacists, who create the exact right combination of prescription-strength ingredients to treat everything from acne and wrinkles to, of course, hyperpigmentation.
You’ll be asked for three no make-up, unfiltered selfies and take a five-minute questionnaire about your current routine, medical history and skin goals. For £19.99 a month, you’ll be sent medical-grade active ingredients in an innovative daily doser.
The intelligent packaging means you are given the exact measured amount you need, as recommended by your dermatologist. The concentrations start low at first, then build up in small increments every month as your skin acclimatises.
What are the causes of liver spots
Sun exposure: “Sun damage is a major - although not sole - cause of pigmentation,” says Dr Murad, Board Certified Dermatologist and Founder of Murad Skincare. Ultraviolet (UV) light speeds up the production of melanin, a natural pigment that gives skin its colour. On skin that has had years of sun exposure, age spots appear when melanin becomes clumped or is produced in high concentrations. Use of commercial tanning lamps and beds also can cause liver spots.
Age: Many people note that one of the main cause of liver spots is 'old age', which is technically true, but really it means many years exposed to UV light from the sun. “As we age, the number of melanocytes in our skin decreases,” says Dr Murad. “The remaining melanocytes attempt to compensate for the missing ones, so we have an overproduction of pigment in one area and a decline or complete absence in another. This is why dark spots form.”
Hormones: Changes in hormone balance during pregnancy and the menopause can make you more susceptible to hyperpigmentation. It is believed to happen when oestrogen and progesterone (the two main female sex hormones) kick melanin into overproduction when skin is exposed to UV rays. It can also be affected by taking certain contraceptive pills and hormone treatments.
Genetics: Genetics can also play a part in the formation of liver spots and areas of pigmentation, given that the number of melanocytes we all have are dictated by our genetic make-up, so even if you've been careful in the sun, you may find them difficult to avoid.
Smoking: Yet another reason to give up the cigarettes, smoking also has the potential to stimulate the skin's melanocytes, the skin's pigment-making cells, to go into overdrives, causing hyperpigmentation.
How to prevent liver spots
There are some very effective ways to get rid of liver spots, but prevention is always better than cure. Let's start with the biggest contributing factor - UV exposure. Avoid the sun when it's at its most intense - between 10am and 4pm, and wear a high factor, broad spectrum sunscreen. "It is important to use a sun screen every day, even when its cloudy or dull outside because UVA rays, (the ones responsible for premature ageing, skin cancer and pigmentation), are active all year round and at the same strength no matter what the weather," explains Dr Murad.
If you're going to be in the sun then apply a good layer at least 20 minutes before heading outside and reapply sun cream (opens in new tab) every two hours. Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses to help protect your skin from further UV damage when you're out and about.
Don't forget your hands. "Many people develop liver spots on their hands because it’s an area of our body we forget to apply SPF to, even though it is in fact one of the most sun-exposed areas," says Faye Purcell. Cover them in sunscreen every morning and wear gloves as soon as it gets cold enough - the sun's rays still penetrate on cloudy, wintry days so an extra protective layer will help shield them against UV damage.
Not all types of hyperpigmentation are preventable, particularly hormonal-related melasma. You can limit the effect of post-inflammatory pigmentation by treating acne with salicylic acid creams to purge pores and prevent breakouts. Whatever you do, avoid picking, squeezing or scratching spots or bites on the skin, as this can result in inflammation, which triggers pigmentation.
The other types of skin pigmentation
Hyperpigmentation is the all-encompassing term for skin discolouration but did you know there are different types?
Liver spots: Also known as age or sun spots, these small, dark brown patches are found close to the surface of the skin. They’re caused by external factors, the most common of which is repeated UV exposure, and affect both men and women.
Melasma: Brought on by internal hormonal changes, it’s common in pregnancy and while using contraceptive medicine, and only affects women. Appearing as tan-coloured blotches on the forehead, chin, upper lip and sometimes the stomach, melasma can be harder to treat as you need to address the root cause.
Post-inflammatory pigmentation: Spots and cuts lead to inflammation, which means our skin cells produce extra pigment during the healing process, leaving behind red or brown dots. It’s more noticeable in darker skin tones.
Video of the Week
Using lemon juice to combat age spots is really a no-brainer. The citric acid and vitamin C in lemon make it the perfect natural bleaching agent. Test your skin first to see if you are sensitive to lemon juice at full strength. If the pure lemon juice is too harsh for your skin, you can dilute it with water.
Age spots are caused by overactive pigment cells. Ultraviolet (UV) light speeds up the production of melanin, a natural pigment that gives skin its color. On skin that has had years of sun exposure, age spots appear when melanin becomes clumped or is produced in high concentrations.
- Combine equal parts apple cider vinegar and water in a container.
- Apply to your dark patches and leave on two to three minutes.
- Rinse using lukewarm water.
- Repeat twice daily you achieve the results you desire.
- Drink Plenty Of Water. Drinking plenty of water can do wonders to your skin. ...
- Lemon Juice And Yogurt Face Mask. We all know that lemons have a number of benefits. ...
- Buttermilk. ...
- Aloe Vera. ...
- Tomatoes. ...
- Papaya. ...
This is a very simple remedy, for this you will need just 2 things – Toothpaste + Vaseline petroleum jelly...
So to answer if vaseline removes dark spots - No, regular Vaseline is just petroleum jelly that seals in moisture and doesn't contain any ingredient that would remove dark spots.
During this treatment, a doctor will apply highly concentrated liquid hydrogen peroxide to each age spot four times over four minutes. The hydrogen peroxide helps moisten age spots to dissolve them without damaging surrounding skin.
Reduces age spots
Regular use of apple cider vinegar can reduce age spots. The alpha hydroxy acids present in it will make your skin healthy and remove dead skin. Mix apple cider vinegar and water in 1:1 ratio and wash your face with it. You can also use a cotton ball to apply this solution on your face.
The most effective way to prevent liver spots is to protect yourself from UV light and sun damage. You should: Apply broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 30 every day and reapply every two hours. Avoid the sun from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., when its rays are the most intense.
- Fabindia Vitamin E Cream De-Pigmentation. ...
- Khadi Omorose Anti-Blemish Cream. ...
- VLCC Almond Honey: Deep Nourishing & Skin Brightening Body Lotion. ...
- Garnier Light Complete Moisturising Serum-In-Lotion. ...
- Nivea Whitening Even Tone Body Lotion.
- Apple cider vinegar. Apple cider vinegar contains acetic acid, which may help in lightening the pigmentation on your skin. ...
- Aloe vera. ...
- Red onion. ...
- Green tea extract. ...
- Black tea water. ...
- Milk. ...
- Tomato paste. ...
- Masoor dal (red lentils)
In this case, turning to dermatological procedures will work as the fastest way to get rid of hyperpigmentation. Chemical peels, laser therapy, microdermabrasion, or dermabrasion are all options that work similarly to rid skin of hyperpigmentation.
- Mamaearth Bye Bye Blemishes Face Cream. ...
- The Derma Co 2% Kojic Acid Face Cream for Pigmentation. ...
- DERMATOUCH Bye Bye Pigmentation Cream.
- O3+ Whitening Face Emulsion Pigmentation Removal Cream.
- Best Overall: Murad Rapid Dark Spot Correcting Serum. ...
- Best Value: Olay Dark Spot Corrector. ...
- Best Splurge: SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic 1 fl. ...
- Best Anti-Aging: Clarins Double Serum Firming & Smoothing Anti-Aging Concentrate. ...
- Best for Sensitive Skin: SkinCeuticals Phyto Corrective Gel.
Baking Soda And Water:
Using a mixture of baking soda and water can help discourage hyper pigmentation on the skin. It helps to remove the dark spots from the skin easily.
Yes. Since witch hazel is a natural astringent it helps in the treatment of bruises, reduces pigmentation and calms redness on the skin. It helps in skin brightening and reducing age spots. Witch hazel provides protection against UV damage and discoloration caused by acne.
The rumor mill might have you believing that dabbing some regular old toothpaste on your zit will help it clear up overnight. But, while it's true that several ingredients found in toothpaste are drying to skin and might help shrink your pimple, this home remedy for breakouts isn't worth the risk.
Step 1: Soak 50 grams of red lentils overnight in a bowl of water. Step 2: Use a blender or food processor to create a fine paste. Step 3: Apply the paste evenly over your face and leave it on for 20 minutes. Step 4: Rinse with cold water and pat your skin dry with a towel.
You can use hydrogen peroxide to lighten acne scars, age spots, and other skin discolorations. Use a cotton pad to apply a thin layer of peroxide to the affected area. Let it sit for 10 minutes, then rinse with water. Over time this treatment will lighten those spots and make them much less noticeable.
- Twice a week at night, on clean dry skin, pour a capful or less of hydrogen peroxide into a small glass container. ...
- Apply the q-tip to the spot only.
- Allow it to stay on your skin for 15-20 minutes, then rinse and pat dry.
- Apply a hydrating product.
There's no evidence that hydrogen peroxide can safely and effectively cure acne. In reality, hydrogen peroxide may actually increase scarring on the skin by interfering with the wound-healing process. It can also cause skin irritation and burns if used at too high of a concentration.
The citric acid in lemon juice is a natural bleaching agent and exfoliates the skin, reducing the appearance of age spots. Simply dab fresh lemon juice directly onto the spots twice daily and you should begin to notice improvements in about two months.
It treats hyperpigmentation with regular use. Turmeric also delays ageing process and the best thing is that it kills acne-causing bacteria. Turmeric masks can also brighten and lighten skin tone. Turmeric works amazingly well to treat dark spots and patches.
Vitamin E absorbs the harmful UV light from the sun when applied to the skin. Photoprotection refers to the body's ability to minimize the damage caused by UV rays. This can help prevent dark spots and wrinkles.
A more natural means of treatment for age spots suggests that vitamin B complex plus extra pantothenic acid, or B5, 100mg. 3 times per day, is required by older persons for the proper assimilation of nutrients. Vitamin C with bioflavonoids at 3,000 to 6,000 mg.
Liver spots are flat, brown or black spots that can appear on areas of the skin that are exposed to the sun. They have nothing to do with the liver or liver function.
Three of the best vitamins for lightening dark spots are vitamin C, vitamin B12, and vitamin E. Vitamin C helps your skin produce more collagen while inhibiting the formation of melanin. Vitamin B12 also promotes collagen formation while supporting the growth of new skin cells.
- Best Overall: Murad Rapid Dark Spot Correcting Serum. ...
- Best Value: Neutrogena Rapid Tone Repair Dark Spot Corrector Serum. ...
- Best Splurge: Skinceuticals C E Ferulic. ...
- Best Peel Pads: Dr. ...
- Best Exfoliator: Drunk Elephant T.L.C. ...
- Best With Retinol: Shani Darden Skin Care Retinol Reform.
Place these on each eye for 20 minutes before taking off the slices and washing your eyes. On one hand, the potatoes will lighten your dark circles and on the other hand, aloe vera will soothe puffiness. Try out this remedy every alternate day for a fresh look.
Oval or round shaped. Range in color from slightly darker than the natural skin tone to dark brown. Develop on areas of the skin that have received sun exposure. Typically small like freckles, but may grow to as much as ½ an inch in diameter.
Try multitaskers such as Garnier Green Labs Retinol-Berry Super Smoothing Night Serum Cream ($22, ulta.com), Mele Even Dark Spot Control Facial Serum for Melanin Rich Skin ($24, target.com), Neutrogena Rapid Tone Retinol + Vitamin C Dark Spot Corrector ($29, cvs.com) or Pond's Rejuveness Advanced Hydrating Night Cream ...
Hartman suggests “a product with an exfoliating active ingredient, like AHA, to help remove the top surface layer of the skin to treat dark spots.” This category of exfoliants includes glycolic, mandelic, and lactic acids which Stephens says “helps to remove dead skin cells while moisturizing the skin.” If you'd prefer ...
Many people use apple cider vinegar on the skin to try and lighten unwanted pigmentation. Apple cider vinegar contains acetic acid, which may act as a mild chemical peel in some cases.
There is no cure. Treatment may include covering smaller patches with long-lasting dyes, light-sensitive medicines, UV light therapy, corticosteroid creams, surgery, and removing the remaining pigment from the skin (depigmentation).
Sun-damaged skin treatment
Interventions for sun damage vary. They range from daily use topical creams and gels to chemical and mechanical skin peels and laser treatments. These treatments can temporarily fade uneven pigment, smooth roughened or wrinkled skin, shrink pores and even restart collagen production.
Age spots may affect people of all skin types, but they're more common in adults with light skin. Unlike freckles, which are common in children and fade with no sun exposure, age spots don't fade.
Lemon juice is a natural bleaching agent, and it's often found in commercial bleaching creams. While age spots won't disappear overnight, applying lemon juice directly to brown spots with a cotton ball twice a day will reduce their appearance after two months.
Liver spot treatment might include: Topicals: You may use over-the-counter or prescription creams, lotions or gels to lighten the skin. Common options include hydroquinone (Eldoquin®, Lustra®, Melanex™), corticosteroids (Dermovate®) or retinoids (Retin-A®, Atralin™, Renova®).
- Laser treatment. Different types of lasers are available. ...
- Microdermabrasion. During microdermabrasion, a dermatologist uses a special device that has an abrasive surface to remove the outer layer of the skin. ...
- Chemical peels. ...
- Cryotherapy. ...
- Prescription skin-lightening cream.
1. Baking Soda And Lemon: Baking soda and lemon, both these home ingredients contain bleaching properties which can help to fade away the dark spots on the face. It helps to lighten the spots and also promotes healthy and glowing skin.
Have blemishes and spots on your skin? Baking soda can come to your rescue to lighten them. This is because baking soda has bleaching properties that help in fading away marks and spots on the skin.
Microdermabrasion (procedure): During this procedure, a dermatologist will smooth away age spots. Studies show this can be quite effective, especially when a patient also has a chemical peel. In one study, some patients were treated with microdermabrasion once every two weeks for 16 weeks.