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3 Ways To Treat Stubborn Dark Spots On The Hands

Jul 18, 2023Jul 18, 2023

The back of the hands is one of the most common places to develop dark spots. This very much makes sense when you think about their causes. Dark spots, age spots, sun spots, hyperpigmentation (whatever you want to call them) are all the result of overactive pigment production in the melanocytes. These pigment-producing cells are activated by inflammation, such as from UV damage, environmental stressors, and skin barrier irritation.

The hands—along with the face and neck—tend to be the areas of skin most often exposed to the elements, making them much more vulnerable to these triggers. But unlike the face and neck, they don't often get high-quality tonics and treatments slathered on daily.

So the issue is twofold: Not only are they more prone to dark spots, but folks are less likely to treat or protect the area. This means when they form, they're more likely to stick around.

Here, how to supercharge your hand care routine so you can fade stubborn dark pots.

To effectively fade dark spots, you should target them at the surface and at the cellular level.

Increasing cell turnover at the top layers of skin can help speed up their disappearance by shedding stained skin cells. The best way to do this is through retinols and alpha-hydroxy acids. These are potent actives, however, so incorporate them into your routine slowly. They may also cause sun sensitivity, so it's best to stick to nighttime use only.

You'll also want to target pigment production at the source. To achieve this, look for tyrosinase-inhibiting ingredients such as kojic acid, licorice root, and arbutin. Niacinamide can also help inhibit melanosome transfer1.

These sorts of ingredients are most often found in facial products, so I recommend finding a serum at a price point you feel comfortable spending on what will end up being a hand care product. The good news is that there are many excellent options from top shelf to drugstore—check out our favorite dark spot correctors here.

Rich yet fast-absorbing formula that nourishes your microbiome


Keeping hands calm and hydrated throughout the day is no simple feat. Given how much hands are exposed to, it's no wonder the skin ends up being crinkly, dry, and irritated. You may just think that's a comfort issue (which of course it is as well), but it's also contributing to signs of premature aging.

A weakened skin barrier leads to low-level, chronic inflammation. This type of inflammation is much more insidious, as it can break down collagen, thin skin, and, yes, lead to dark spots.

So during the day it's important you have a high-quality hand cream to help restore the skin barrier, soothe any irritation, and feed the skin strengthening nutrients.

There are tons of worthwhile ingredients to look for. This list of ingredients to look for is certainly nonexhaustive, but is a great place to start:

You can also browse our favorite hand creams here.

One piece of advice I get time and time again from celebrities, derms, and skin care pros is this: Every time you leave the house, apply sunscreen on your hands.

Sunscreen is the No. 1 healthy aging skin care ingredient, and without it, everything else you do will be invalidated.

And it's such an easy step! One derm once told me she keeps SPF in her car so she can apply it just before driving. Another source said she stores a large bottle by her door so she always remembers to apply it on the way out. Another said that she always adds extra sunscreen to the back of her hands when she's applying it to her face in the morning.

No matter how you remind yourself to stick with the habit, do it. And if you're in the market for a new one, check out our favorite sunscreens here, which include face and body options.

Caring for your hands in simple ways can really make a huge difference in their appearance—especially with dark spots. By using brightening ingredients at night, soothing barrier creams during the day, and SPF when you go outdoors, dark spots don't stand a chance.

Rich yet fast-absorbing formula that nourishes your microbiome


Alexandra Engler is the beauty director at mindbodygreen and host of the beauty podcast Clean Beauty School. Previously, she's held beauty roles at Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Allure.com. In her current role, she covers all the latest trends in the clean and natural beauty space, as well as lifestyle topics, such as travel. She received her journalism degree from Marquette University, graduating first in the department. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.