Age Spots & Dark Spots on the Face

Parent Q&A

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  • Really stubborn sun damage dark spots

    (6 replies)

    Hi! I am of the age where we didn't really use sunscreen all that much as kids (sigh) and got lots of sunburns. I've had some laser treatments (IPL) that helped with some of it but I still have a couple brown spots on my face (they're not super dark but I'm VERY pale) that are driving me crazy. The IPL stopped working - seems like it did all it could. Hydroquinone cream did not work. Musely turned my face a little orange, so that wasn't great.

    Any ideas? It's just a couple spots but they just will not go away!

    I am in the same boat! I have also tried clear & brilliant and while that helped with the overall skin texture it did nothing for the sunspots which are only growing larger. I have been researching picosure laser tx recently - think they use this for tattoo lasering also so it's specifically for pigment targeting. My friends in NYC have gotten this with great results but I haven't found a practitioner in the Bay Area who seems to offer this yet. I'm sure it is a matter of time until they do though! 

    Use the Obagi system Nu-Derm RX. It will 100% work. I found it to actually work better than laser. For me it was about 2 mos to see a big difference, and 4 mos to erase. Then you need to keep using it periodically, but it makes your skin amazing, so why not? I use it occasionally at this point, but it works. At first you'll have some redness and roughness - for me that was about 6-8 weeks. Then it diminishes and eventually you have no negative effects at all - your skin starts loving it. You will need a prescription and it must include tretinoin at 1% and Hydroquinone at 4% or above. The SYSTEM works - just using hydroquinone alone does not work. You need several products in conjunction with one another - trust me, I have literally tried it all. My mom refuses to use this and her spots are now large and almost black. They're genetic and will never go away without intervention. And btw you must use sunscreen at least on those locations on your face. (To be honest, if you ONLY used a heavy sunscreen on your spots, they would fade very much after about a year.)

    I sympathize. In the meantime, you might try Maybelline Super Stay full-coverage foundation, which comes in a variety of tints, and in a nice glass bottle. You can find it at CVS and other drugstores. Apply a very light layer over the area, tapping just a little extra on your sun damage, then powder. It's not as perfect as television make-up, but does make a difference.


    I developed melasma/stubborn brown spots after turning 40 (I tan easily). Do you have a dermatologist? I was prescribed Tretinoin and a Kojic Acid compound cream and the latter has had made the biggest difference. She also prescribed hydroquinone and it did nothing for me. I was a Mac NC30, so more olive-toned (I've gotten lighter/paler during the pandemic and just use concealer these days.) I now have primarily stubborn but slowly fading post-acne brown spots (PIH) that I'm okay with being seen with. But, it's taken two+ years of diligent effort. I never tried IPL though I seriously considered it.

    My derm also recommended Cyspera (not cheap--about $150 and it has a universally disliked smell) which didn't make as big of a difference as kojic acid. I do use it on a 2x/week "maintenance" schedule to maintain my current results. Faded (sold at Sephora) has the same smell as Cyspera and Youtuber derms recommend it--I haven't used it daily for 30+ days to comment.

    Honestly what worked best for me--re-applying sunscreen in the middle of the day. On my most recent trip to Hawaii (UV 11)--reapplied sunscreen and no increase in brown spots. Before pandemic--I'd get brown spots on my 5pm commute home on the "driver's side" of my face. My husband even commented out of the blue that my skin looks much better than a few years ago and tbh, he rarely notices things I'm self-conscious of.

    Caveat: I also use Vitamin C, niacinamide and copper peptide products to help prevent future dark spots. This is on top of the prescribed products and I recently resumed facials two months ago for LED treatments.

    Good luck!

    IPL is not actually a laser, it's intense pulsed light.  Have you consulted a dermatologist? My understanding is that IPL and BBL (another light treatment) can eliminate a lot of the surface pigment, but a laser like Halo or something else, maybe needed for more dramatic pigment reduction.

    I recommend going to a board certified dermatologist who can offer a custom treatment plan including procedures such as lasers, chemical peels, etc, and prescribe medical grade skincare. I highly recommend my dermatologist, Dr. Andrea Hui Austin, at Bay Area Cosmetic Dermatology (BACD). She used a combination of Alex laser and a chemical peel to remove my hyperpigmentation. Their website and Instagram account have lots of before and after photos and they speak for themselves!

  • Looking for a recommendation for a dermatologist who performs facial laser rejuvenation to treat melasma and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. I have some dark spots on my cheeks and forehead that just will not go away and am working up the nerve to get laser treatment. East Bay preferred.

    You might want to have a free consult using a non-scarring approach to skin issues:

    I have had moles, seborrheic keratoses, and hematomas taken care of with little to no scarring.  Having had a Mohs procedure one time, I decided against using conventional dermatological approaches.  

    Last spring (2017) I had multiple v-beam laser treatments on my cheeks for red acne scarring. It really helped! And in fact, I just scheduled another appointment for next week, for some new scarring. It really doesn't hurt - they offer to apply a numbing cream first, which I've never had to do. I saw an NP named Jude at the office of Katie Rodan. They don't have a particularly good website, and you have to call to make an appointment:

    I first made an appointment for a consultation, thinking I might want/need microdermabrasion, but Jude suggested the v-beam. Good luck! It will be worth it.

    I highly recommend that you call Diablo Regional Laser in Walnut Creek and ask if Janet will treat your condition. She has trained many doctors to use lasers. I have gone to her over the last 10 years for both hair removal and the removal of skin redness due to Rosacea. She is a little quirky, but she is extremely good at what she does. If she treats your condition, you will not be disappointed.

  • Age Spots - Asian Skin

    (2 replies)


    I read old posts of recommendations on this topic and would like to get updates and new recommendations.
    Two years ago, I contacted Kaiser regarding laser treatment for age spots. The person in charge (not a doctor, I believe) from the clinic in Oakland told me that because I have Asian skin, there was no guarantee it would scar nicely. I felt discouraged. A friend recommended a specialized nurse but her office is in South San Francisco and she charges $300 one time.

    I am writing to ask (1) if you have Asian skin, have you had laser treatment successfully? How long did it take for the scar to heal? (2) Who would you recommend in east bay? (3) Is $300 a common price? 
    I don't have health issues. My age spots are getting darker despite wearing sunscreen and a hat when I do gardening. Also, they are bigger on the right side (probably from being exposed while driving).

    Thank you for your response and positive insights!


    I am asian and have battled dark age spots on my skin for most of my life. I am diligent with daily sunscreen and wearing wide brimmed hats. I finally went to a cosmetic dermatologist who recommended a series of chemical peels, prescription bleaching creme at night, and a vitamin c serum from Skinceuticals on clean skin in the morning. The combination has worked for me. My spots are much, much lighter, but they are still visible. The dermatologist said that it is a condition that I will have to deal with for the rest of my life. 

    The chemical peels were done on my lunch hour, and caused mild peeling, but I did not have to take any time off for healing. 

    Good luck!

    There is an even better solution than expensive, semi ineffective (and rather painful) peels. I'm going to sound like a shill but very seriously - the Obagi system WORKS. I had terrible age spots, my family is prone to them. I have done lasers, peels, everything. The only thing that has worked is Obagi - and it is a true miracle drug (or rather, a series of miracle drugs as you use several products in combination). It has to be prescribed and you need a dermatologist's management. I think it costs around $600-$700 when you first start the process, but this is way cheaper than lasers. I used Dr Evan Ransom in SF. There are 2 lines of Obagi, due to a split between the founders at some point - you want to use the original Obagi products. Ive used both product lines and the originals work way better. Look at pix online - you'll see Asian women/men. It's just amazing and it's not BS. You'll endure some skin irritation and redness for a couple of months, but you will literally see your age spots disappearing. Nothing works better and Obagi confers other benefits too - but it's a slam dunk for brown spots.