Brown spots on your face, also known as age spots or liver spots, occur most frequently in older skin, and usually as a result of years of sun exposure. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, these brown spots appear most commonly in adults over the age of 40, although they may effect individuals of any age if they spend enough time in the sun.
True age spots are considered harmless and do not require medical treatment. They can be lightened with over-the-counter and natural remedies to the point of being almost unnoticeable, although this can take weeks or even months to accomplish. If you’re determined, however, you can remove brown spots on your face over time using the tried-and-true methods described below.
Always consult a doctor if you have an irregular brown spot that appears to change shape, as this may be a sign of skin cancer. It’s a good idea to talk to your physician anytime you notice an abnormality in your skin, especially if you’ve spent a great deal of time in the sun, just to rule out cancer. Once you’re sure that you have nothing more than typical liver spots, then you can begin using home remedies for brown spots on your face.
Fresh lemon juice contains mild acids strong enough to slough away the top layer of dead skin and lighten brown spots on your face. For the best results, dab the juice of a fresh lemon directly onto brown spots once or twice a day for as long as necessary.
Honey and Yogurt
Combined, honey and yogurt create a mild, natural bleach that can lighten brown age spots on your face. As an added bonus, the mixture also softens the skin and improves complexion. Try mixing 1 tsp. plain, raw yogurt with 1 tsp. pure honey. Apply directly to the affected areas, allow the mixture to dry completely (about 30 minutes), and then rinse with tepid water. Repeat daily as needed.
Aloe Vera Gel
Gel from the aloe vera plant contains chemicals that slough away dead skin cells and encourage the growth of new, healthy cells, which in turn lightens age spots. Apply aloe vera gel directly to your brown spots once or twice a day until you achieve the desired results. The Reader’s Digest Association recommends using fresh aloe gel straight from the living plant. If you don’t have access to a living aloe plant, you can purchase aloe gel at your local drug store or natural health store, but make sure it doesn’t contain any additives. You want only 100 percent pure aloe gel.
An old folk remedy for brown spots and skin discoloration, buttermilk contains lactic acid that gently exfoliates sun-damaged skin and pigmented areas. The substance eventually lightens brown spots on your face until they are barely detectable. Dab buttermilk directly onto brown spots, allow it to dry, and rinse with tepid water. Repeat once or twice daily as needed for the best results.
Another common folk remedy for getting rid of brown spots on the face and body is red onion. Rubbing acidic red onion juice directly onto spots once or twice a day is believed to gradually fade the discoloration over time. This remedy doesn’t smell great, but it will work if you don’t mind the lingering scent of onions.
Onion and Vinegar
In her book “More Chicken Soup & Other Folk Remedies,” Joan and Lydia Wilen recommend combining onion juice with vinegar for an effective way to get rid of brown spots. Grate an onion and squeeze it through a piece of cheesecloth until you have about 1 tsp. of onion juice. Combine the juice with 2 tsp. white distilled vinegar, and massage into brown spots twice daily until no longer necessary. Again, this remedy smells awful, but according to many women, it works wonders.
An Israeli remedy for brown spots on the face requires the use of chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans (the ones you use to make hummus). You can buy them canned very inexpensively in your local supermarket, or prepare them from scratch. Mash about 1/3 cup of cooked or canned chickpeas with a fork or potato masher, add a bit of water to get a paste-like consistency, and then spread over brown spots. Leave on until the peas begin to dry and crumble, and then rinse away with warm water. Repeat once every night until age spots are gone.
Green papaya is rich in a protein-digesting enzyme known as papain that dissolves old, dead skin cells without harming new, young cells. The papain is most concentrated when the fruit is still green, and according to folk medicine, it works wonders for reducing liver spots. Place the fleshy, latex side of the papaya over the discolored areas, and allow it to remain for 20 or 30 minutes once or twice daily. Repeat as necessary until your age spots are gone.
Lemon essential oil and benzoin essential oils both have bleaching properties that can help get rid of brown spots on your face, according to Bill Gottlieb in his book Alternative Cures. Gottlieb recommends combining 1 to 2 drops of either of the oils with a vegetable carrier oil such as almond, and then applying to the affected areas twice daily as needed.
Homemade Skin Lightener for Brown Spots
Stephanie Tourles, natural beauty expert and author of Herbal Remedies for a Lifetime of Healthy Skin, recommends making your own lemon cream skin lightener to get rid of brown spots on your face, hands, arms, or anywhere else they appear. The lemon juice acts as an alpha-hydroxy acid and natural bleach, while the cucumber is cooling, and the yogurt’s lactic acid also gently bleaches.
- 2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 small potato, peeled
- 1/2 small cucumber
- 1 tbsp. plain, raw yogurt (organic if possible, and with live cultures)
- Blender or food processor
- Light moisturizer, optional
- Blend all ingredients until smooth in a small blender or food processor for a few minutes, until a smooth, spreadable paste is formed.
- Store in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours in a covered container, if necessary, although the mixture works best when used just after blending.
- To use, pull your hair off of your face and neck, and lie down with a towel under your head to catch drips. This process can get a little messy.
- Apply the mixture to your face, and cover with a hot, damp towel. To make breathing easier, use two towels – one for the top of your face and one for the chin and neck – leaving your mouth and nose uncovered.
- Leave on for 15 to 20 minutes, rinse, and follow with a light moisturizer if desired. Repeat two or three times a week until the brown spots on your face subside.
Your skin may begin to tingle during the treatment, and this is normal. It’s just a sign that the ingredients are doing their job. Do not use this treatment on sunburned, inflamed or sensitive skin.