Nothing embodies summer like a day spent sitting on the beach, but too much time spent in the sun can often result in unwanted dark spots on your complexion. "Brown spots are the result of increased melanocyte cells, which are the cells responsible for producing pigment," explains Lauren Abramowitz, founder of New York City's Park Avenue Skin Solutions and Clinical Educator for Allergan. This poses the obvious question: How can the hyperpigmentation be reduced? "In-office treatments that can combat brown spots are chemical peels and lasers, but the gold standard are IPL treatments," she tells us. "My go-to IPL treatment is the Lumecca, which has over-exceeded my expectations, as well as those of my patients!" The idea of an IPL can be a daunting one if you aren't experienced with the process, but Abramowitz assures us—there is minimal to no pain associated with the Lumecca, the method works on all skin tones, and there's no real downtime. The pigmented lesions will darken for a day or so after the treatment, but it's nothing a little concealer can't cover, and after a week, they fall off to reveal a completely even tone. "After-care is low maintenance. I supply a mild cortisone cream to be applied after the treatment and at bedtime, then my patients return to their normal skin care regimen," says Abramowitz.
If an in-office treatment is too intimidating for you, Abramowitz recommends combating the issue with products that contain hydroquinone, ubiquinone, kojic acid, bearberry arbutin, or emblica. "They will brighten the skin, and aid in fading away some mild unwanted pigment," she explains. "Retinoids are also a good idea to incorporate into your weekly skin regimen, as they help with cell renewal and cell turnover." Abramowitz notes Tazorac, which is available through a prescription, as her preferred retinoid formula, or you can opt for a vitamin C serum like Citrix's Pro Collagen Brightening Serum ($95; dermstore.com). Whether you opt for the treatment or an at-home remedy, a zinc oxide-based sunscreen is a must for preventing those spots from coming back. "Zinc is a natural anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial, so acne-prone patients should not fear getting clogged pores," Abramowitz says. "Glycolix ($30; skinstore.com) and Replenix ($29; skinstore.com) are on the top of my list for daily sunscreens that contain zinc."