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Last updated February 7, 2017 (originally published April 6, 2015)

By Louise Carr, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist

Smooth, clear, youthful skin is everyone’s dream. But when
the years start to advance, that dream seems further and
further from reality. Wrinkles may be a big concern but
there’s another nightmare to contend with - age spots.

Age spots, those flat brown or tan spots on your face,
hands, arms and shoulders, turn unblemished skin into a
fantasy. What can you do about age spots on the face or
the hands? Can you fade age spots? And are there natural
ways to remove age spots?

What Are Age Spots?

As you age, blemishes called age spots, liver spots,
lentigines, or lentigos may appear on your face, arms, back
of the hands, or neck. Age spots are round
, black or brown
spots, varying in size, that occur on the areas of skin that
are most exposed to the sun. They may be no more than a
few millimeters in size or could be over half an inch wide.
Often age spots group together so they are more

A survey carried out in 2013 by a make-up brand in the UK,
No 7, found out that 36 percent of women aged 40 or over
are bothered by age spots as much as they are by wrinkles.

What Causes Age Spots?

Age spots are common in adults over the age of 50, but
they may also strike people under that age who spend a lot
of time in the sun. Because it’s the sun that’s the culprit
when it comes to this kind of aged skin. Age spots are
caused by UV light exposure over years. The sun causes an
increased production of melanin in the upper layer of the
skin and when the melanin becomes clumped together it
results in areas of age spots.

Are Age Spots Dangerous?

The scary thing is, age spots can look like cancerous
growths. But age spots are harmless. If you have spots or
raised lumps that have become noticeably darker or larger
you should get them checked out by a doctor.

You don’t need to treat true age spots but the look of this
skin pigmentation can be unwelcome.

Aggressive forms of treatment penetrate the upper layer of
the skin to lighten or remove pigmentation. You can use
skin bleaching creams, steroids creams, laser therapy,
cryotherapy, dermabrasion or chemical peels. But many of
these procedures have uncomfortable side effects.

Are there any natural ways to resolve the problem of age
spots? We looked at the scientific evidence to see what you
can do to get rid of age spots naturally.

Try Alpha-Hydroxy Acids to Remove Age Spots

Alpha-hydroxy acids are naturally-sourced substances that
come from fruit and dairy products. These are milder than
the agents used in chemical peels and as such may produce
fewer side effects.

A 1996 study from Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston
looked at 74 women with sun-damaged skin and found that
an 8% glycolic acid or 8% L-lactic acid cream improved the
appearance of the skin better than placebo.

Keep in mind that AHAs are not completely harmless and
side effects may include redness, swelling, burning, and
increased sun sensitivity.

Green Tea to Remove Age Spots?

Some experts believe that extract of green tea, when used
in topical form on age spots, helps to minimize the
appearance of skin pigmentation.

A 2005 study from Emory University into 40 women with
sun-damaged skin found a combination of oral green tea
and a green tea cream didn’t prove to be effective at
improving the appearance of skin but possible benefits
were seen when the skin was examined under a

Treat Age Spots with Soy Extract

A cream containing an extract of soy called soybean trypsin
inhibitor (STI) and Bowman-Birk protease inhibitor (BBI)
was good at improving the appearance of mottled, age
spotted skin in a 2007 trial by Johnson & Johnson
Consumer Companies.

Compared to a placebo cream, the 65 women in the trial
noticed improvements in blotchiness and age spots. Of
course, we have to consider the source of this information
is far from unbiased ---the trial was handled by the
company that made the cream in question.

Prevention is the Best Cure for Age Spots

By far, the best way to minimize the unwelcome
appearance of age spots is to prevent them from occurring
in the first place. Avoiding the sun at its most intense, using
sunscreen, and covering up provides protection from UV
rays which helps to protect the skin from developing
patches of age spots.

Do Antioxidants Help Treat Age Spots?

Because UV light creates free radicals, the substances that
harm tissues in the skin, it makes sense that antioxidants –
which neutralize free radicals – play a part in protecting the
skin from age spots.

A 2006 study from the University of Witten/Herdecke in
Germany demonstrated that a mixture of antioxidants
including vitamin E, lycopene, beta carotene, and selenium
resulted in a better appearance to the skin including
smoother skin and fewer age spots.

Foods rich in antioxidants include
dark, leafy greens such
as broccoli and spinach, carrots,
berries and citrus fruits.

Eat Cocoa for Protection from Age Spots

Cocoa is high in flavanols and therefore helps to offer skin
protection from UV damage, according to experts.

Long-term consumption of high flavanol cocoa helps
prevent age-related skin changes like age spots, according
to a 2006 study from the University of Witten/Herdecke in

Moreover, according to a 2015  Report from the Second
International Congress on Chocolate and Cocoa in Medicine
held in Barcelona, Spain , the flavanols in cocoa
(epicatechin and catechin) contribute generally to better
health and appearance of your skin.]

A Combined Skin Treatment for Age Spots

A dietary supplement composed of soy, fish proteins, white
tea extract, tomato, grape seed, zinc, chamomile extract
and vitamins C and E was useful for treating the effects of
skin aging in post-menopausal women in a 2006 study
from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

Women taking the supplement experienced significantly
greater improvement in mottled pigmentation – age spots –
than a placebo group.

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Healthy Body, Healthy Mind, Healthy Life
Drinking cocoa can help
prevent age spots, a new
study has found.