Brown Spots? Save the leopard print for your lingerie!

By now, summer may be a fading memory…but, what’s not fading are those darkened brown leopard printspots from the late August sun. If you’re like me, you want to make those unsightly complexion blotches disappear—and the sooner, the better.

Brown spots are a type of skin condition called hyperpigmentation, and they often form in response to years of unprotected sun exposure. A recent study showed just how negatively these spots affect your looks: When  photos of women were doctored to highlight their uneven skin tone, these women were actually judged as older and less attractive than women with abundant (and deeper) wrinkles. Bottom line? The more brown spots you have, the older you look.

The good news: There are a number of different techniques to eliminate brown spots and restore skin’s youthful smoothness. But before you begin a program, it’s best to assess your precise level of damage by taking a digital skin analysis. The VISIA™ is an advanced photographic technology that captures a clear, close-up, multi-dimensional image of your complexion. This specialty camera not only measures how much sun damage you currently have, but it also shows what’s lurking below the surface. This is the pigmentation that’s about to appear in the near future, rearing its ugly head when you least expect it.

I recommend a three-step approach to banishing brown spots:

Step One: Begin by getting on a lightening regimen with a skin care routine that incorporates Hydroquinone. If you are allergic to Hydroquinone, try its natural alternative, Kojic Acid. I recommend the Obagi Nu Derm Kit. Products containing these ingredients bleach the skin, lighten brown spots and even out skin tone. They also precondition the skin for Steps Two and Three.

Step Two: Once the surface skin has been sufficiently bleached, I like to work on the sun damage that is hovering at the deepest levels of my skin. The stuff you can’t see…yet. Intense Pulsed Light works to non-invasively banish brown spots by heating up the structures that hold the unwanted dark color, damaging and destroying the blood vessel or “sun spot”. This process is called Selective Photothermolysis since it specifically targets only the affected area. Within 7-10 days, the damaged cell rises to the surface and sloughs off, leaving skin smooth and even.

Step Three: Once these lower layers of pigmentation have been eradicated, I like to finish with a set of chemical peels to remove all the dead skin cells from the top layers of my skin. Chemical peels remove layers of affected skin, allowing new, unaffected skin to grow back in its place. There are different types of peels, varying in strength and in how deeply they penetrate the skin. I recommend a mid-strength chemical peel, known as a TCA peel, for optimal results following a Selective Photothermolysis procedure.

Once eliminated, these spots will not return unless you go back into the sun unprotected! Every skin tone is susceptible to sun damage and discoloration, which is why sunscreen is a must—no matter how dark your natural complexion or what time of year. Because UVB rays target the top layer of skin—where freckles are—a high SPF (Sun Protection Factor) is especially important. Even as winter approaches, be sure to pick up a broad-spectrum physical sun block. A broad-spectrum block with titanium and/or zinc literally deflects UV rays so they won’t wreak havoc on your skin. And brown will remain a chic wardrobe choice, not a mark of aging and sun damage!