Six Common Skin Problems, Solved!
Problem #3: Brown Spots
Causes: Sun exposure, which causes the cells that produce melanin, the skin's natural pigment, to shift into overdrive.
Beauty Fix: The speediest solution is laser therapy, in which a focused beam of light erases splotches. While the laser's energy doesn't affect surrounding skin, the treatment's aftereffects -- including redness and scabbing -- can take a few weeks to go away. Twenty spots can be zapped in one 15-minute session. Cost: about $300. A much slower alternative (several months), albeit one that requires no downtime, is retinoids and/or alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) combined with bleaching agents (such as hydroquinone and kojic acid), which inhibit the formation of melanin. Retinoids or AHAs alone could take up to six months to produce noticeable improvement, according to Amy B. Lewis, M.D., director of dermatologic surgery at Downstate Medical Center, in New York City. A twofer dermatologic favorite is the prescription cream Alustra, which contains retinol and a 4 percent concentration of hydroquinone. Cost: about $70 for one ounce; lasts one to two months.
Health Saver: Products with antioxidants, such as vitamins E and C and green tea, can help prevent brown spots by squelching the production of free radicals -- destructive molecules that can contribute to discoloration. Smoothing on a broad-spectrum sunscreen such as L'Oreal Ombrelle Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30 every day is also a must.
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