When you notice the appearance of a freckle here or there -- or a sudden smattering -- you may start thinking about ways to make those darkened skin spots look less prominent. Lightening creams can lessen their appearance, but they will probably not make them disappear completely. Consider your options so you can begin working toward a more uniform complexion.
Prescription-Free Freckle Faders
If you were a freckle-faced kid, chances are, you have some freckles that are simply hereditary. However, when it comes to new freckles or dark spots that occur as a result of sun damage, you can attempt to lighten these spots with products from the drugstore or cosmetics counter. Invest in creams that contain lightening ingredients, such as hydroquinone at a 2 to 5 percent concentration, which helps stop and reverse the darkening of skin cells; vitamin C, known to lighten skin; or licorice at a 0.5 percent concentration, which is a botanical ingredient that may lighten skin and stop the darkening of skin caused by UVB rays. Use them regularly for four to eight weeks. These products are typically available in a topical cream formula and, commonly referred to as "fade cream" or "lightening cream." They work by minimizing, inhibiting and often reversing the production of melanin, the dark pigment in skin that gives freckles their color.
Whether your sun damage is more severe or if you simply have stubborn freckles that aren't fading as quickly as you'd like, visit a dermatologist and ask for a prescription-strength cream. Your doctor will likely prescribe a stronger topical medicine for you that may include retinol and a blend of other ingredients known to lighten skin and offer powerful exfoliation. Your treatment with prescriptions may take a month or two to produce noticeable changes. Follow up with your doctor to discuss whether to change treatments to fade freckles.
Although wearing sunscreen to prevent sun damage and freckling is essential to protecting your skin, it is even more important when you're using fading products. Creams such as retinols and fading lotions leave your skin more susceptible to burning, so slather on the sunscreen. And while you're at it, look for brightening moisturizers and foundation with illuminating particles to reflect light and decrease the appearance of dark marks. In addition, wash your skin with a cleanser that exfoliates, such as a wash with salicylic acid, to help wear away the layer of skin that holds the darkened skin cells.
When the Outlook Remains Spotty
Speak with your dermatologist about in-office treatments. Strong peels and microdermabrasion can help resurface your skin and diminish freckling. However, for severe damage, your doctor may offer photodynamic therapy, or PDT. This process uses a photosensitizing compound and light exposure treatment to remove signs of sun damage, including serious, pre-cancerous sunspots.