NZ Woman's Weekly

Beauty: Eliminate brown sun spots

It was when I hit my forties I noticed the first signs of sun stress – brown spots appearing on my face and the backs of my hands. It’s so ageing, but with effort it’s possible to reduce the effect.

Need to know

Pigmentation isn’t only a mature woman’s issue. Jody Burke, creator of Xcell Pure Medical Skincare, says she treats women from their twenties upwards. While it can be caused by hormonal changes and injury to the skin, by far the biggest culprit in this country is the sun.

Year-round use of a sunblock that contains zinc (try Invisible Zinc Face & Body $29.99) is your first line of defence when it comes to keeping brown at bay. And Jody treats lots of darker Asian and Maori skins, as well as fair.

Laser therapy

  • A course of IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) is the quickest way to get rid of brown spots. They literally start flaking off. The downside? It’s mildly uncomfortable being zapped and it is crucial to wear sunscreen forever afterwards, otherwise they’ll return in no time. This treatment isn’t suited to darker skins.
  • Light skin peels using natural acids and medical strength vitamin A are effective, even for darker skins, but too strong a peel can risk increasing the damage.


  • Dermapen was developed to boost collagen production but it’s also proving useful for brown patches and scar tissue. Since it involves tiny injuries to the skin, Jody says you should expect to look terrible for about four days before you see a positive change.
  • These treatments should be combined with regular use of skin serums – a combination of products containing lactic acid and vitamin A is Jody’s pick. It’s important to note over-the-counter products are never going to have the potency of those prescribed by your dermatologist.

Ways to fade

Once skin has accumulated pigmentation, Jody says it becomes thickened, almost like scar tissue, and any lotions or potions you apply won’t absorb well enough, so in-clinic treatments are advised. Four products to try:

  1. Xcell Ultimate A $133 and XCell Flawless $102 provide the combination of lactic acid and vitamin A that Jody recommends for visible results.
  2. Lancôme DreamTone $138 – a tinted pigment corrector tailored to fair, medium or dark skin types that instantly increases luminosity and treats brown spots over time.
  3. Trilogy Botanical Lightening Treatment $48.90 – the natural option to reduce the intensity of age spots. Contains Gigawhite, a natural brightener formulated from plant extracts.
  4. Garnier Dark Spot Treatment Night Serum $17.49 – this supermarket buy blends brightening vitamin C with skin-resurfacing glycolic acid, plus moringa oil and glycerine for hydration.

Take a look at our favourite winter lipsticks here.

About Nicky Pellegrino

Nicky Pellegrino has been a journalist for over 20 years, both here and in the UK, and is a former editor of New Zealand Woman's Weekly. These days, as well as working on the magazine's beauty pages, she writes popular novels like Recipe For LIfe, The Italian Wedding and The Villa Girls. For more about Nicky check out her website

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2 Responses to “Beauty: Eliminate brown sun spots”

  1. SaCh Jun 24 2014, 10:57am

    Please be aware that things can go wrong with micro needling. I went to a salon in Pakaranga for dermapen as I heard it was good for helping to build up collagen. At the time of treatment the salon owner said she believed in treating pigmentation marks in the same way as if she was treating scar tissue. My skin was hounded. Unfortunately for me, it’s nearly two months down the line and I’m left with micro tears and little needle lines on my cheeks. The salon owner would not accept any responsibility. Before the treatment I wasn’t offered a disclaimer to sign advising me of what could go wrong, ie scarring and hyper inflammatory pigmentation. It’s always good to be armed with the facts. If you’re going to go in for this type of treatment, my advice would be to go to a reputable salon, always find the best. Ask to see qualifications, after all people can give themselves all sorts of fancy titles. The industry is unregulated so make sure you do your research, after all your skin is precious. Also, a profession salon will open the sterile dermapen needles in front of your eyes.

    • Indiana Munn Jun 24 2014, 4:59pm

      Thanks for your feedback Sarah. Like you said, it’s important to do your research before and go to a reputable salon with qualified experts.

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