Photo: Jonathan Skow
Q: I've got a few age spots on my cheeks. Will a self-tanning moisturizer darken them?
A: Yes. Age spots can be either light (hypopigmentation) or dark (hyperpigmentation), says Wendy E. Roberts, MD, assistant clinical professor of medicine at Loma Linda University. A self-tanning cream can darken both kinds. So if you've got hypopigmentation, a self-tanner can help blend the spot into your complexion. But if you've got hyperpigmentation, a self-tanner can make your spots look more pronounced. Treat them by applying a topical prescription bleaching agent like Solagé (2 percent mequinol) directly to the spots, which will fade them gradually. Or have them removed with a chemical peel, one to three sessions of intense pulsed light (IPL) treatment, or one laser treatment.
Bottom line: If your age spots are dark, avoid self-tanning products. Both light and dark spots are caused by sun damage; prevent them by wearing an SPF of at least 15 every day.