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Jacki Curcio: Multistep process for stopping age spots

Skin La Curcio style

Posted: April 15, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: April 15, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Age spots are a topic of increasing concern that I am frequently asked about. Here is some basic information to help shed some light on this sometimes-complex question.

Also known as brown spots — or liver spots — all these terms refer to the same condition. Clinically, we refer to them as hyperpigmentation. What causes these spots, and how can we minimize them or get rid of them altogether?

Essentially, all age spots are caused by sun damage. The actual color develops and exists deeper in the skin layers and, over time, increases with additional sun exposure. The spots move up closer to the surface of the skin where we begin to see them.

It is not so much due to aging, but rather our genetics and the type of sun damage we incur over the course of our lives that determines how we will experience brown spots on our skin.

The good news is that damage from the sun that causes this condition can be treated before  or after the appearance of  these spots.

The same applies to melasma, which is a clustering, or a brownish shadowing-affected area on the face. Usually, you will see this during or after pregnancy, due to accelerated hormonal activity at this time, in conjunction with sun exposure.

Technically, melanocytes are the skin’s cells that produce pigment or color in the skin, and are activated by the oxidation of the enzyme tyrosine in the skin. Inflammation from numerous causes internally and externally can trigger this process, too.
Professional-grade products, which include tyrosinase inhibitors, help prevent the production of melanin in the skin. Check with a licensed professional for which formulas have the correct ingredients that are anti-inflammatory, as well.

Another treatment plan is to have professional exfoliations monthly, and perform daily gentle exfoliations at home. These exfoliations will help lift the top layer of dead skin cells along with a portion of the colored cells with them, helping to even out facial skin tone.

Again, consult with a licensed professional to determine the appropriate formula for you.

Finally, laser treatments have progressed over the last several years. Your board-certified dermatologist or board-certified plastic surgeon can provide detailed information for removal of your brown spots and/or melasma via this procedure. There are specific criteria for laser-treatment candidates, which will be explained during your consultation.

Now let’s talk about prevention.

Daily use of a broad-spectrum sunscreen year-round is the first and most basic defense. Yes, year-round.

The winter months and overcast days can prove even more damaging in terms of aging than any other time of the year.
Another consideration is the amount of time spent driving in your car. UVB- and UVA-treated windows are fabulous ways to reduce the daily exposure of ultraviolet radiation, and you can get the treatments with or without color in order to comply with driving laws. Check with the Department of Motor Vehicles for the necessary guidelines.

It is also vital to wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen that will protect from UVA and UVB rays — which cause burning and aging effects of the skin — preferably a water-resistant formula with an SPF 30.

If you are pregnant, nursing or under the care of a dermatologist or physician, it is imperative to follow professional advice as to what sunscreen to wear.

And remember, if you are using a makeup that contains an SPF, the actual SPF is about 50-percent less than the number shown.

With your newfound understanding of age spots, you can see the best bet is to seek the advice of a licensed skin-care professional or dermatologist. Proper treatment and ongoing care of age spots is too involved to try to solve this situation on your own.

Here’s to beautiful forever.

Jacki Curcio is a skin care expert, nationally published health and beauty writer, and the owner and developer of La Curcio Skin care Collection, available exclusively at Balance Point Spa and coming soon to  For more information, call (661) 713-9679.


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