Common Skin Conditions: Dark Spots

03.11.2013, 15:59 CDT | Posted In: Prevention & Protection, Products, Skin Care

Woman looking into mirror

You don’t get to choose where it appears. Somehow it just finds a home for itself, right there on the tip of your nose, your cheek, or somewhere else on your face. It’s a dark spot, aka “liver” or “age” spot. Unfortunately, these unwanted spots aren’t likely to go away on their own.

So how does it happen?
Melanin is what gives color to your skin. Light from the sun actually speeds up the production of melanin. Being exposed to the sun over long periods of time can cause a cluster of melanin to appear—this is how a dark spot occurs.1

Tanning is also caused by a reaction to the sun’s rays. That golden skin tone may look desirable, but it is actually a sign of skin damage. Over the long term, this damage can lead to premature aging or even cancer.2

But sun exposure isn’t the only reason dark spots pop up. Sometimes it’s just part of aging. Genetics also plays a role. If you have light-colored or fair skin, you are more likely to develop dark spots.1

How can we prevent them?
The best way to help keep those pesky spots from appearing is to limit sun exposure.

We’re not saying you shouldn’t enjoy the great outdoors, but be aware of when the sun’s rays can cause the most damage. Between 10:00am and 2:00pm is when the sun is at its greatest strength. Limit your sun exposure during these hours if you can.

Also, as much as possible, wear long-sleeve shirts, pants, and put on a hat to provide shade for your face. This applies for those times when you’re behind the wheel as well. Harmful rays can even penetrate through car windows (tinted windows offer some additional protection). As a general rule, if you’re going to be exposed to the sunlight, wear a high-quality broad-spectrum sunscreen, such as our award-winning Sun Shield Matte Broad Spectrum SPF 50.

What can I do to treat them?
If you want to help reduce the appearance of dark spots, physicians frequently recommend products like the Obagi Nu-Derm® System*. Obagi Nu-Derm includes prescription 4% hydroquinone, which is considered by many to be the gold standard in the treatment of dark spots. Ask your skin care physician if Obagi Nu-Derm may be right for you. Please see Important Safety Information for Obagi Nu-Derm below.

So now you’re armed with a little more knowledge about dark spots. Now that you know where they come from, you can do your best to help prevent them. Most importantly, don’t panic if you start to notice dark spots appearing on your skin! Obagi offers products that can help address them.

Share your thoughts and feelings about dark spots below and look for more information on common skin conditions on our blog in the coming weeks.


Last updated: 11/30/16


*The safety and effectiveness of the Obagi Nu-Derm System beyond 24 weeks of use have not been established. If no improvement is seen after 3 months of treatment, use of this product should be discontinued.

Not available in select states including MA, MT, NH, NY, and TX, due to state regulations regarding the ability of physicians to dispense prescription drug products in their offices. For an effective, skin-brightening option, learn about the Obagi Nu-Derm Fx™ System.

The safety and effectiveness of the Nu-Derm System beyond 24 weeks of use have not been established.

If no improvement is seen after three (3) months of treatment, use of this product should be discontinued. Sun exposure should be limited by using a sunscreen agent, or protective clothing to cover bleached skin when using and after using this product in order to prevent darkening from reoccurring.




  1. Age spots (liver spots). Mayo Clinic Web site. Accessed February 14, 2013.
  2. Indoor tanning: the risks of ultraviolet rays. WebMD Web site. Accessed February 14, 2013.

Using a broad-spectrum sunscreen SPF 30 or higher together with a comprehensive sun protection program including wearing sun protective clothing, hats, sunglasses, and avoiding the sun between the hours of 10am - 2pm may help reduce the risk of premature skin aging.

©2016 OMP, Inc. 11/16  OBG.0211.USA.16