Leave it to the Pros: If topical treatments don't do the trick, ask your dermatologist about Fraxel laser treatments. Fraxel lasers penetrate deep enough into the skin to eliminate the skin cells that cause melasma, yet protect the skin's outer layer. It's typical to need monthly Fraxel laser treatments for three to four months. During and after treatment, patients must avoid sun exposure and wear a high UVA/UVB-blocking sunscreen.
Sunspots, clumps of pigment-producing cells, occur with prolonged sun exposure. "Runners are more susceptible to them because of the amount of time spent outdoors during daylight," says Clinton. To prevent sunspots, protect your skin--not only with high SPF sunscreen(even in the winter months), but also with a hat, a long-sleeve shirt and 100 percent UV-blocking sunglasses. "This won't prevent all sunspots, but certainly there will be fewer."
Topical Treatments: Clinton recommends using moisturizers with antioxidants such as vitamins C and E as well as with ingredients like coenzyme Q10 and green tea extract. All of these are found in Perricone MD Pigment Corrective ($95, perriconemd.com) and RX for Brown Skin Naturally Flawless Advanced Botanical Brightener ($36, sephora.com).
Leave it to the Pros: The most common and effective reducer of sunspots is intense pulsed light (IPL) treatments. Also called a photofacial, IPL is a noninvasive treatment that uses high-intensity pulses of light to improve the appearance of sundamaged skin. Treatments can be performed on the face, neck, chest and hands, and you'll usually need three to four monthly sessions.
Sift through the Hype
Don't believe every product claim out there that promises to reduce wrinkles and take years off your skin. "Products that are considered drugs by the Food and Drug Administration, such as hydroquinone and tretinoin, will respectively treat skin discoloration and fine lines," says Dr. Carol Clinton. "For other cosmetic products, the science is not as clear cut."
To determine whether you should buy cosmetic products that make miracle claims, check out the science behind them. If it's not backed up by a valid study, don't buy it.
But drugs aren't always the only ways to help your skin. "Antioxidant products and peptides, although not approved by the FDA to be age-reversing, have been shown to provide real benefits to the skin," says Clinton.
Marisa Walker is a health and beauty writer based in New York City.