Age spots, liver spots, brown spots, or solar lentigines—whichever name they go by on a particular day—are brown or black spots that speckle the surface of the skin as you age. And no—they’re not as cute as freckles.
How Age Spots Develop
Age spots appear after many years of being exposed to ultraviolet rays from the sun and other environmental factors, according to Medline Plus. Even using a tanning bed increases the potential for developing age spots. Healthline notes that they typically appear on areas exposed to the sun the most, such as the forearms, shoulders, head (face and forehead) and back.
A Shocking (and Smelly) Solution
So how do you get rid of these pesky blemishes? A promising DIY method that has been gaining popularity is utilizing a combination of onion juice and apple cider vinegar (ACV) to minimize the appearance of age spots. While there is no scientific evidence or research to support this method, the properties of onions and ACV may provide some insight as to why this theory is gaining traction.
Nutritional Properties of Onions and Apple Cider Vinegar
Onions are chock full of nutrients and antioxidants that are beneficial to the body. According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Nutrient Database, 100 mg of onions are composed of 89 percent water, 1 percent protein and 7 percent Vitamin C based on recommended dietary allowance (RDA).
Vitamin C is an ascorbic acid which has the potential to minimize the effects free radicals have on the body. According to one study, it was determined that antioxidants, like Vitamin C, are effective in fighting against discoloration, melanoma and other melanin related skin changes. Onions are also composed of small amounts of amino acids and flavonoids. In particular, quercetin is a type of flavonoid in onions that serves as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.
The same survey concludes that quercetin can effectively inhibit the growth of some cancerous cells. As an anti-inflammatory, onions should reduce the redness and irritation caused by acne in addition to providing hydration to the skin, since it is primarily water-based.
ACV has a variety of properties that make it excellent for consumption and external application. According to a study published by the National Center for Biotechnological Information, ACV is composed of antioxidants, acetic acid, polyphenols, and has antibacterial and prebiotic properties. In fact, ACV has been used for medicinal purposes as far back as 400 B.C., at which time Hippocrates wrote of prescribing an ACV mixture for various ailments.
In an article by CNN, spokeswoman for the American Academy of Dermatology Dr. Marie Jhin does verify that ACV can be used to reduce the appearance of age spots. ACV is a natural bleaching agent and functions as a skin toner when diluted with a base, such as water or oils. Whereas ACV might dry out the skin, onions combat the acidity with a high water concentration.
If you haven’t already balked at the idea of the smell, there is certainly no harm in giving this method a try.
Here’s How To Make It:
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Bonus Step. Mentally prepare your nose for one heck of a strong aroma and grab a towel for those eyes!
Step 1. Chop one whole onion, or about one cup.
Step 2. Mash the onions in a plastic bag.
Step 3. Blend the onions until pureed.
Step 4. Pour ½ cup apple cider vinegar into the blender and mix.
Step 5. Use a cotton ball to apply to the trouble areas.
It may take up to four weeks to see any minor results or improvement in skin tone. If you do not see results after two months of daily application, cease usage and try a different method. Simply wearing sunscreen every day can help prevent more age spots from developing. If the age spots are irregular in shape, discolored, or appear unusual, consult a physician or dermatologist.