"Hi there, I would like your ideas about using essential oils to get rid of age spots. I have two kinds: flat and light brown areas of increased pigmentation, and a couple of raised dark crusty spots. Thank you!"
Age spots are usually caused by sun damage. I highly recommend using a zinc oxide or a zinc oxide plus titanium dioxide based sunscreen to protect your skin and to prevent future age spots from forming. Many natural based sunscreens also double as moisturizers (so you may or may not need to use an additional moisturizer in the morning). Most natural based sunscreens are rich in antioxidants and vitamins too. Some of the other all natural beauty website, anb portal, and anb mall vendors sell nice sunscreens.
Several natural ingredients can help improve the appearance of some types of age spots and sun damage, however it may take a long time to see improvement: anywhere from several weeks to many months to a year or longer. The results will usually not be as immediate as using lab derived or synthetic ingredients, but many of the natural ingredients used to improve skin clarity are super gentle and in the long run are very effective. In addition, different ingredients work for different people, so what works for you, may not work for another person. You may need to try several different ingredients to find the right ones that work for your skin.
In my personal experience, I think that the appearance of many light colored, flat brown spots (hyperpigmentation) can be greatly improved with topical application of natural ingredients. I’ve had many customers tell me that my products have helped improve the appearance of their skin. I also have recommended many natural DIY (Do It Yourself) recipes to friends and customers, and they can help improve the look of these types of age spots too. However, sometimes topically applied ingredients and products can’t help; it really depends on your own skin. If you try many different ingredients or products, and there is no improvement within 6 months to a year, you may want try some lab derived ingredients or go to a dermatologist for more aggressive treatments.
For raised, crusty, very dark colored spots, in my personal opinion, I think that topically applied ingredients can only help a little. Natural ingredients may help improve the crustiness a little bit (by softening them), but as far as I know the only way to deal with raised, crusty spots is to get a doctor to remove them. These types of spots are similar to moles, and a doctor needs to look at them (to make sure they are truly benign moles, or if they are something more serious).
Many essential oils can be used to help improve skin clarity (many different skin issues, including age spots), but I think it is best to use more than just essential oils—many different natural ingredients would be beneficial. I believe a combination of antioxidant and nutrient rich ingredients, exfoliants, emollients, and lighteners and brighteners would help. There are many different plant and natural ingredients that can help improve the look of the skin. I have listed a few of the more common, DIY, easy to find, local, or food based ingredients that you may want to try. I have also listed a few lab derived ingredients too (ingredients that are found in many natural based skin care lines).
I recommend trying honey! Honey is very rich in nutrients. Use it as a cleanser, a mask, in scrubs, add it to toners, creams, and more! Many of the recipes below contain honey.
Aloe vera gel or juice is often suggested for age spots. Aloe is rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and trace nutrients, including vitamin E and C. I recommend buying one from a natural health food store, a natural skin care company, or an herbal online vendor, since they are usually not made with fillers (many natural or organic aloe brands are made only with aloe, a thickener, an anti-fungal, and citric acid). Or buy an aloe plant! You can use aloe as a toner, a spot treatment, in masks, or in creams and lotions. It is safe to use daily, a few times a day. Here is my anb mall eco living recipe for a super easy green tea toner, which contains aloe vera. It also contains green tea (a rich source of antioxidants) and honey!
Vinegar toner makes a wonderful toner that very gently exfoliates, and improves skin clarity. Most people can use vinegar toner daily. Here is my recipe from Earth Alkemie’s (my skin care company) forum for vinegar toner (I would read the whole thread since there is a lot of information about vinegar and rotation of ingredients).
Some herbalists recommend yogurt for age spots. Yogurt mildly exfoliates and softens the skin, and it is a mild brightener and lightener: it is a source of natural lactic acid. You can use it as a cleanser or a mask. For a good recipe, check out my anb mall eco living article for yogurt cleanser or mask.
Lemon juice is a mild exfoliator, lightener, and brightener. It needs to be well diluted before use. Read my anb eco living and DIY natural beauty formulating expert article on lemon juice in cosmetics (for dark spots and acne).
Some aromatherapists recommend lemon essential oil for age spots. Be sure to dilute well (1/2% to 1% total concentration of essential oils in 1 ounce of carrier. Which is a total of about 3 to 6 drops of essential oils added to 1 ounce of carrier oil, cream, or lotion). I would suggest just using lemon essential oil at night, since many lemon essential oils on the market are photo-toxic. If you can’t get essential oils locally, make your own lemon essential oil by squeezing a few drops of the oil from a fresh lemon peel.
You may also like to try a brightening or lightening mask. Papaya contains papain, which is a natural enzyme that exfoliates and softens the skin. You can use fresh or frozen papaya (just defrost the frozen kind before use). Check out my eco living article for a papaya mask!
Try the humble potato! Here are some of my eco living recipes (my article is geared toward eye remedies but raw potato is an excellent ingredient for age spots too).
A weekly banana mask can help the appearance of some brown spots, plus it leaves the skin super soft and hydrated!
Any good carrier oil or butter will provide emollience. Many oils and butters also improve skin clarity. If the oils and butters are cold pressed unrefined or expeller pressed unrefined, they are good sources of antioxidants, nutrients, and vitamins. Try to get an organic one if available. Many people love to use cold pressed or expeller pressed, virgin, organic, unrefined coconut oil (a lot of coconut oil is solvent extracted and refined so try to buy coconut oil in a health food store or online). Coconut oil is very emollient. An easy to find local butter is cold pressed, unrefined, and organic shea butter (many brands sell solvent refined shea, which is often refined with hexane and stripped of its nutrients. In addition refined shea butter’s texture is very different from the unrefined. So pay close attention to extraction methods). Shea is a good source of natural vitamin E.
You may want to add vitamin E to a carrier oil, butter, cream, or oil (vitamin E is a lab derived ingredient which can be completely synthesized in the lab, or it can be naturally derived. I personally prefer using and crafting with the naturally derived one). Another popular choice is using lab derived vitamin C serum (many natural and commercial brands make vitamin C serum or you can make your own too. I suggest buying one from a natural brand or making your own since they tend to have little to no fillers). A lot of natural based brands make products that contain lab derived acids and enzymes (which are more concentrated than the acids and enzymes found naturally in natural ingredients like many fruits and yogurt). Examples are lactic acid, glycolic acid, and papain. They are either synthesized or naturally derived (but they are still lab derived, altered, or concentrated ingredients).
Please note: many of these ingredients are exfoliating (I have noted which ones are exfoliating above or in the recipe articles). So take care not to overexfoliate.
Li Wong has
a B.A. in Environmental studies/biology and an M.S. in
Environmental Science and Policy. She has studied a wide range of
ecological and plant related topics including biology/botany,
ethnobotany (the cosmetic and medicinal uses of plants in
indigenous cultures), conservation, and organic standards in
cosmetics. Other environmental interests include mammals, urban
wildlife, public perception, human-wildlife conflicts, and local
environmental issues. She has also been formulating all-natural
beauty care for over a decade and runs her own all-natural beauty
business, Earth Alkemie. She's happy to help you learn more about
living a clean, green lifestyle... and help you with your DIY