Those beautiful freckles are small flat brownish/red marks which arise on the face and other sun exposed areas. They are most often seen on redheads or those with fair skin; but they are an inherited characteristic on darker skin types as well. As most redhead women mature, they get what is called “brown spots” or “age spots”. They are most often found on the face and hands, and are larger and more defined than freckles. The brown spots tend to persist for long periods and don’t disappear in the winter (though they may fade).
We spoke with three different skin experts about brown spots, how to prevent them and their top ‘redhead friendly’ product recommendations.
THE 101 ON BROWN SPOTS
“Redheads are prone to the freckling and brown spots as well, it’s just because of their pigment pattern and the way the melanocytes in their skin respond to ultraviolet light,” says Debra Jaliman M.D., Assistant Professor of Dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
“Brown spots, and some many call them sun spots, develop as a result of UV damage. Melanin plays a vital role in preventing sun damage and unfortunately individuals with fair skin tones have less melanin in their skin,” says Kevin Dooley from True Nature Botanicals. “Individuals with darker complexions have a higher concentration of melanin, which is able to better fight UV damage. Redheads, and fair skin individuals, have less melanin available which results in a higher risk of damage due to sun exposure. This is why redheads and those with fair skin tones are more likely to burn easily.”
While the link of UV exposure to skin cancer is clear, Dooley says it can also lead to brown or sunspots. “These sunspots develop when the suns harmful rays attack the cells in your skin that traditionally produce melanin. This damage causes the cells to reproduce and grow which results in the development of discoloration or sunspots. Unfortunately, not only are redheads and those with fair complexions more prone to sunspots, the fairer complexion also makes these sunspots more noticeable.”
1. Sunscreen: The best way to prevent age spots is to use a safe sunscreen daily. “Harmful UV rays are present dawn to dusk, so choosing a safe, easy to apply sunscreen that you feel comfortable wearing daily is key. These harmful UV rays penetrate through cloud cover as well as glass so you are always at risk, even if you don’t realize it. Make sure to choose a safe SPF such as a non-nano zinc oxide sunscreen. Also, avoid the sun. Easier said than done but try to avoid direct sun exposure, wear a hat and loose fitting layers to help cover up,” recommends Dooley.
2. Vitamins: “Vitamin A is an effective antioxidant that can also encourage cell turnover. It is also antibacterial and can help your skin look and act younger! Retinaldehyde which is a very rare form of Vitamin A to encounter is a wonderful and safe form ingredient that doesn’t cause inflammation as it can be stored in your fat cells,” says Ami Shvartzman, Director of Education for Osmosis Skincare. It’s important to note that many people have had Vitamin A horror stories from using products such as Retin-A and Tretinoin. Now there are safe retinol based products on the market that are gentle even for very sensitive skin. Retinol products are great as they help to stimulate that cellular turnover which helps to fight and repair that damage.
3. Exfoliate: “This is where it can get tricky for a redhead or someone with a fair complexion,” says True Nature Botanicals’ Kevin Dooley. “Many people with fairer skin tones find that they also have much more sensitive skin. Find a product that offers gentle exfoliation as it is helps promote cellular turnover, which will help to lighten sun spots and help to prevent future damage.”
BEST PRODUCT RECOMMENDATIONS
2. Read: Quick Guide: Redheads, Don’t Let Dark Spots Get You Down. New York City skin guru, Susan Ciminelli, recommends her top natural tips for those wanting to get rid of dark spots.
3. Director of Education for Osmosis Skincare, Ami Shvartzman, recommends following your skin regimen. “I am always shocked by how many beauty buyers I encounter who have products lying on the shelf that they just do not use. As skincare professional, I’ll tell you that it doesn’t matter how many treatments I do on someone’s skin, they won’t see nearly the same result if they aren’t using a great regimen at home!” Make sure to gently cleanse the skin, use plenty of chemical-free moisturizer and use sunscreen every single day.
Have questions? Ask below! Rock it like a Redhead.
Disclaimer: Visit your dermatologist to get the right recommendations for your skin type.