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The Sunny Side: How to Reduce the Appearance of Sun Damage and Age Spots

By: Louis Silberman
Posted: July 30, 2013, from the August 2013 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

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Radiofrequency. Services that harness the power of radiofrequency waves are also very effective for helping remove sun spots, reduce wrinkles and tighten skin. A radiofrequency procedure works by sending heat energy into the dermal layer of the skin to stimulate the production of collagen. Unlike lasers, radiofrequency treatments rely on the absorption of radio waves and not light, which makes these services safe for all skin tones.

Hydroquinone. Hydroquinone is a topical treatment used to lighten skin. It works by inhibiting the production of tyrosinase, which is an enzyme that helps to produce melanin. Depending on whether it is sold over the counter or prescribed by a medical professional, hydroquinone can range between 1–10% concentrations. Anything above 2% requires a prescription.

When used alone, hydroquinone treatments may not show visible results for several weeks. To give your client faster results and improve the effectiveness of this treatment, you can combine hydroquinone with a regimen of chemical peels and/or light-based procedures. Additionally, it is a good idea to alternate between hydroquinone and a nonhydroquinone melanin-inhibitor for best results.

The importance of prevention

Educating clients about the dangers of excessive sun exposure is key. Even with an increased level of skin cancer awareness, some people still refuse to give up their tans. The American Academy of Dermatology studied teens’ attitudes about the sun—59% of teens surveyed thought that in general, people look healthier with a tan.

If your clients don’t want to give up their bronze glow, see if you can convince them to try a sunless tan. Advanced self-tanners and spray tans are easy and accessible, and they can provide great natural-looking results without the dangers of sun exposure. If you have the equipment necessary for spray tanning, offer your client a free tan to show them how well it works. Seeing is believing!

Learn the science behind aging skin from world-renowned dermatologist Zoe Draelos, MD, in the Aging Skin lesson, part of the Physiology of the Skin online video series from Skin Inc. Video Education.