While aging brings a bounty of undeniable gifts, age spots may not be considered one of them. The telltale spots, which range in color from light brown or gray to darker shades, often appear on the face, neck, chest or the backs of hands as we get older.
A lifetime of sun damage may cause the appearance of age spots—also called sunspots or liver spots—though liver health may also play a role, says Pina LoGiudice, a naturopathic doctor and licensed acupuncturist in Huntington, NY.
"That doesn't mean you have liver disease," she explains, "but is the liver congested? Could it use detoxification?" Since your skin is your body's largest organ, any toxins in the body could be reflected in your skin’s appearance, says LoGiudice, a member of the American Association for Naturopathic Physicians.
The first line of defense against age spots should consist of a natural sunscreen and sun-protective clothing, though LoGiudice says it's still important to absorb some of the sun's rays (during non-peak hours) for sufficient vitamin D exposure.
After that, pay attention to your diet. A healthful diet consisting of plenty of water (half your body weight in ounces per day) and antioxidants from a rainbow of fruits and vegetables shows through in your skin. Leafy greens and dark orange vegetables like sweet potatoes are particularly high in beta-carotene, which helps the skin rebound after damage.
When treating already-existing age spots, keep in mind that there aren’t fail-proof cures, says Jenny Tufenkian, a naturopathic physician in Portland, Ore. and clinical faculty member of the National College of Natural Medicine. However, home remedies like aloe juice and apple cider vinegar won’t hurt you, she says.
Want to give them a try? “They’ve come down through herbal lore, but they’re not scientifically proven,” Tufenkian says. Still, “some people have reported positive responses from using them.” Keep in mind that age spots take years to develop. Minimizing their appearance takes time, too.
Apply any of the following to age spots several times a day, leave on for 15 minutes, then rinse off:
- Fresh aloe vera juice
- Apple cider vinegar
- Lemon juice
- Plain yogurt
- Fresh papaya or pineapple