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Out, Damned Spot! How can you tackle age spots?

Out, Damned Spot! How can you tackle age spots?

Aug 10th 2020

What cases age spots and how can we get rid of them?

Out, damned spot!

AKA, What causes age spots and how can we get rid of them?

Remember when we thought freckles were cute? While they may still look cute on a kid, on us? Not so much. Because on us they’re not "freckles" they're…age spots.

An age spot, or hyperpigmentation, is a cluster of pigment called melanin. Produced by cells called melanocytes, melanin gives skin and hair its color. It also plays a very important role in protecting skin, acting as a natural sunscreen that blocks UV rays from penetrating the skin’s deeper layers. When activated by sun exposure, melanocytes produce extra melanin to absorb the UV rays. That extra melanin results in—you guessed it—a tan.

So, if the excess melanin protects your skin, what’s the problem with a tan?. 

The problem is that over time the more the melanocytes are “turned on” from sun exposure, the more they lose their ability to function properly. In young, healthy skin, melanocytes quit over-producing after sun exposure stops (and then the tan fades). But if a melanocyte has been damaged, it loses the ability to “turn off,” behaving as if it’s still being assaulted by UV rays. Worse, one damaged melanocyte cell can communicate with neighboring melanocytes, signaling, “Hey, we‘re under assault! Keep producing melanin!” And those neighboring melanocytes, worn down and now confused, start cranking out the melanin too. Eventually, these cells over-produce enough melanin that the pigment clusters into a visible age spot.

There’s another reason age spots become more common as we approach menopause: and it's related to the same symptom we discuss often--the loss of the hormone estrogen.

Of the many, many things the hormone estrogen regulates, the factor we are discussing here is the amount of melanin a woman produces. So as estrogen levels decline it becomes increasingly important to wear a broad spectrum SPF 30 UVA/UVB sunscreen. Anti-oxidants like turmeric ( found in the SeeMe Beauty SeeMe Complex) also can help prevent melanocyte damage. And niacinamide, or vitamin B3 (another SeeMe Complex ingredient), increases skin cell turnover, which can lead to the fading of age spots over time. That’s the good news.

Though age spots are benign, it’s important to monitor their appearance; if you notice irregularities or changes, check in with your dermatologist. 

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