From Our Editors
Age Spots: Shade from the Sun
Some facials can help fade age spots. Learn more about how those spots appear with Groupon's examination.
Sun spots. Liver spots. Solar lentigines. No matter what you call them, those flat gray, brown, and black spots on the skin come from the same place: space. Specifically, the sun. All skin color is the result of a pigment called melanin produced in the epidermis. Each person's skin produces melanin at certain rate, but ultraviolet rays from the sun accelerate that process, which creates a darker, tanned appearance. Over years, melanin can become particularly concentrated in one area and clump together to form age spots, typically on the hands, face, shoulders, and other areas regularly exposed to sunlight. (Freckles are produced through a similar process, but their formation is much more strongly predicted by genetics and by whether you're dressing up as Raggedy Ann for Halloween this year.)
Age spots are ultimately harmless, but there are many ways to treat their appearance. Prescription-strength and over-the-counter creams use retinol or hydroquinone to make the spots gradually fade over time. Laser treatments target melanin-producing cells directly, and microdermabrasion and chemical peels remove the top layer of skin altogether, taking discoloration with it. People also seek out cryotherapy to freeze the offending areas, destroying the excess pigment as the skin heals.