So one of those fun side effects of getting older is sunspots and skin pigmentation. It’s annoying, it’s a sign of sun damage, BUT it can be helped, especially if you’re just starting to notice those pesky little spots or just got over one of those lovely breakouts we all thought we left behind in out teenage years. Last summer, I got a particularly bad sunburn on my face after a day of boating (you can read more here) and the uneven skin pigmentation I had to deal with afterwards was beyond annoying. So I did some research into products that would help and have spent the last year “experimenting” with several very reasonably priced options. Today I’m sharing my favourites, as well as a couple of my tips for dealing with this lovely sign of maturing before it gets too out of hand.
This is an overnight peel that you apply after cleansing and leave on overnight. The claims include that it helps resurface your skin’s texture and will diminish those pesky brown spots that may be sprinkled across your cheeks. It’s billed as a peel, which always makes me think of a chemical peel, which to me, equals burning of some kind. When I first applied it, I was a teensy (my 6 year old’s current favourite word) bit nervous, but I really didn’t need to be – this doesn’t burn or sting at all. It goes on almost like a serum, so it leaves the skin feeling slightly tacky, but this goes away as it absorbs completely into the skin. After about four uses (every second night), I woke up with much smoother skin and no breakouts. It’s hard to tell if this one helped my dark spots, since I use so many products to combat them, but it certainly didn’t hurt. Definitely a winner in my books and I will for sure be purchasing again.
I’ve been using this cream regularly since last summer and I love it. The texture is light, the formula absorbs well and doesn’t burn or sting, and it keeps its promises. This one claims to brighten the skin, including dark spots, and as the product I use the most, I can say that it definitely brightened my dull complexion in the cold winter months. This one works well under makeup or under a night cream, so you have some flexibility around when you use it. Sometimes I use it at night and sometimes I use it as my daily moisturizer, it depends on how I’m feeling. I love a product that can multitask like that.
I think of this cream as the big gun. Since I don’t have a lot of hyperpigmentation, I do not use this product regularly, but I do work it into my skincare routine when I’ve had a bad breakout (thanks, hormones) or after prolonged sun exposure. This particularly cream contains 22% + 2% Vitamin C, a powerhouse when it comes to dealing with pigmentation and brown spots. Because of the high concentration of Vitamin C in this product, I give fair warning that it will burn slightly when applied, particularly if the skin is still heeling (from a bad zit, for example or a sunburn) so you may want to wait until the healing process is done before using it. This one is harder to find in the US, but it is available online at and they provide shipping to the US and Canada. You can also buy in stores in Canada exclusively at Shoppers Drug Mart.
Garnier SkinActive Clearly Brighter Brightening & Smoothing Daily Moisturizer with SPF 15 (2.5 fl.oz.)
This one is the newest brightening product I’ve tried and while I can’t yet fully vouch for its claims, I can tell you that it makes a great, light moisturizer that is perfect for the warmer summer months when we tend to need lighter moisturizers. The SPF isn’t going to be enough for a day out in the sun, so bear that in mind (if you’re spending a day at the beach or poolside, you definitely need more, but I’ll chat about that later in this post) . It wears well under makeup and doesn’t make my face any greasier than normal, which would make it a no-go for me. If you’re looking for an affordable, everyday moisturizer to improve your skin tone even somewhat, this one is for you.
If you have a lot of sun damage and hyperpigmentation, over the counter creams may not be enough to fully deal with the spots. You may need to look into a treatment like Photofacial Skin Rejuvenation (for Edmonton locals, such as the Photofacial from Lipstick Empire) to deal with deeper hyper-pigmentation and dark spots. These treatments can effectively treat sun damage, but remember, the results will only last as long as you care for your skin when you’re in the sun. Which brings me to the best preventative treatment, at least for sun damage – SUNSCREEN.
I know, it’s so obvious, but I’ve avoided it for years because I was convinced it would block my pores and cause breakouts. This year, I’ve found a fantastic sunscreen that will keep your skin clear and is under $15 – definitely a winner in my books. The Neutrogena Clear Face sunscreen is a chemical sunscreen (so beware if you have skin sensitivity – you may wish to try a zinc-based version) that goes on without any greasy after feel, works well under makeup and offers up to SPF 60 protection. I have been using this every day for the last month and I’ve very happy with the overall feel and the sun protection.
Of course if you really won’t put sunscreen on your face, you can always throw on a cute hat. A great straw fedora or wide brimmed hat will offer a bit of protection and will look great too – heck, you won’t even have to do your hair.
Do you have any go-to products to deal with sun damage and hyperpigmentation? Have you tried any more intensive treatments? Let me know in the comments below.
Enjoy the pretty things in life,