#AskCharlotte: How Do I Get Rid of Dark Spots On My Hands?

Charlotte’s Book is a trusted place to find and share information on the best in skincare, anti-aging, aesthetics, and wellness. Ask Charlotte your beauty or wellness question, and we’ll call upon one of the experts in The Book to provide you with the most up-to-date information.

Our hands, almost always exposed to the elements, are usually first to show signs of age. This Charlotte’s Book reader gets right to the point:

“How do I get rid of dark spots on my hands?”

To find out what treatments are best, we asked Charlotte’s Book-approved Dr. Ilyse Lefkowicz, MD, partner at NyskinRX on the Upper East Side. She explains:

“There are many over-the-counter products these days that claim to lighten skin, some targeting sun spots (also called solar lentigines), others focusing on other types of pigmentation. Unfortunately, many of these creams aren’t that effective: they take a very long time to work. If one is to rely solely on over-the-counter products, I direct patients to ingredients that are proven to work. Hydroquinone is a cream that inhibits melanin production, therefore lightening and balancing skin tone. Over-the-counter, it comes in 2% strength; with a prescription, 4% strength. Hydroquinone can cause irritation, so I often recommend starting with a lower over-the-counter strength.

Related Read: #AskCharlotte: Do Tinted Moisturizers With SPF Offer Enough Sun Protection?

In all cases I suggest pairing it with a retinol product, easily found at pharmacies. Used alone, retinol can have some lightening effect, but used in conjunction with hydroquinone it’s much more effective. Make sure the retinol is from a properly packaged, trusted brand. I like RoC Retinol Correxion. I advise patients to use hydroquinone in the morning, and of course, to follow this with a daily sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher. There’s no point in combatting dark spots if you’re exposing your hands to sunlight, since the pigment will return with sun exposure. Retinol should be applied nightly. It is completely fine to use a face cream on your hands!

After 6-8 weeks following this regimen, you will start to see results. I advise a two-week break from hydroquinone every 10-12 weeks, but you can continue the retinol and the SPF for as long as you like.

Related Read: The 7 Sunscreen Mistakes Almost Everyone Makes

In terms of in-office treatments, my go-to is IPL (intense pulsed light)—Fraxels and peels. Several treatments may be required. When patients commit to in-office procedures, I still have them do their homework between visits as described above, or with prescription-strength hydroquinone creams and retinoids.”

Charlotte Knows:

Dr. Lefkowicz recommends RoC Retinol Correxion, $23. Why not try their Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Daily Moisturizer with SPF 30 for the same price: get your retinol and SPF in one! We also like La Roche-Posay Redermic [R] Eyes with pure retinol, $46. To find a qualified cosmetic doctor in your city who specializes in Fraxel or other treatments, browse The Book.

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