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Along with wrinkles and saggy skin, uneven, spotty skin is damaged skin, which is often the result of too much sun exposure. Considering that technologically-advanced UVA/UVB blocking sunscreens have only been around since the 1980s, if you're over a certain age, you've likely soaked up a lot of harmful rays. The best remedy is to protect your skin against the sun. You only need to look at the underside of your arm or your buttocks to appreciate that skin that rarely sees sunlight has great tone and color. Uneven skin tone is as much an age problem as it is a sun problem. Keep your sun exposure to a minimum and wear sunscreen and protective clothing if you are going to be outdoors – sunny or not, winter or summer.

There are lots of options available but here is how to safely lighten skin:

1.     [Link Removed]  concentration in Canada and widely regarded as the gold standard for treating hyperpigmentation.

2.     [Link Removed]  which combines two gentle yet potent AHAs to deliver results.

3.     Retinoids. Whether a prescription formulation (retinoic acid, tazarotene, etc) or a non-prescription alternative such as retinal (try [Link Removed]  ), retinoids help to increase skin cell turnover, which pushes out damaged skin cells and replaces them with healthier, newer ones.

4.     Vitamin C. Beyond its action as a potent antioxidant to protect skin against free radical damage, Vitamin C is reported to interfere with pigment synthesis resulting in skin lightening. Look for formulations containing at least 5%, which is what is necessary for this action. Try [Link Removed] , which combines Vitamin C with other skin beneficial ingredients.

5.     Botanical Lightening Agents. Various other agents including kojic acid, licorice and arbutin can lighten pigmentation. We stock a wide selection [Link Removed] .

Because topical treatments attack the problem in different ways, optimal results may be obtained by combining several treatments. For example, layer a Vitamin C serum each morning and evening. In the morning, follow with a hydroquinone or botanical treatment and finish with sunscreen. At night, alternate between hydroquinone and a retinoid over the Vitamin C. Once or twice weekly, apply an AHA at night. Always test the combination and be careful not to overdo it. While effective and safe when used as directed, there is still the potential for skin irritation.

6.     Dermatologist-prescribed formulas. If you have severe pigmentation or it hasn't responded to any of the above, your dermatologist may prescribe a combination treatment like Kligman's formula, which combines hydroquinine, dexamethasone (a steroid) and tretinoin (a retinoid).

7.     Medical Procedures. Topical treatments are generally tried first. However, they don't always work. If that's the case, you may want to opt for:


 A physician-grade chemical peel or microdermabrasion.

Stronger procedures using lasers and/or intense pulsed light devices to remove layers of damaged or wrinkled skin at precise levels of penetration. This is also the treatment of choice to fix any redness or blood vessels of the cheeks due to sun damage or rosacea.

Liquid nitrogen cryotherapy. Dermatologists perform this procedure to peel flat brown lesions (lentigo) or raised brown lesions (seborrheic keratoses) that can develop with aging.

If you opt for a medical procedure, look for a dermatologist who is trained and has experience in performing this type of work.

If you're going to lighten skin, do it safely. Stay away from advice (or treatments) by unqualified 'professionals' who can make matters worse. Always buy your products from legitimate sources to ensure you're getting the real deal. And, don't forget the basic rules of great skin: restful sleep, good nutrition, exercise, don't smoke and sun protection.

Sharmani Pillay is a Registered Pharmacist who specializes in anti-aging skin care and women's wellness. She owns and operates an online skin care store at [Link Removed].
For a limited time, Fabulously 40 members save 5% off all purchases. Code fab40 at checkout.

Pharmagirl, Your links have been removed, please consider upgrading to premium membership.

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