Standing in the bathroom, I moved closer to the mirror. “There,” I murmured, finding the dark spot near my right eye. “And there and there and there,” I continued, pointing to the pigmented markings that were dusted across my cheeks and nose. “Age spots,” I sighed in defeat.
Freckles. Age spots. Sun spots. Liver spots. No matter what you call them, they’re essentially the same thing: collections of pigment, also known as melanin, that often appear after exposure to ultra-violet light.
Naively, I thought I was immune to the effects of the sun. Being of South Asian descent, I’ve always believed that I have a “built-in SPF”, allowing me to skip a daily application of sunscreen and occasionally, tan with reckless abandon.
Technically, I’m not completely incorrect; darker individuals have a higher natural SPF thanks to the increased amounts of melanin in our skin. However, no one’s natural SPF is enough to keep the effects of sun damage at bay, which includes, but is not limited to, skin cancer, wrinkles and hyperpigmentation.
Back to those age spots.
You have to look closely, but you can see them. Scattered across my nose and cheeks; the darkly pigmented spots that seem to increase with gusto as I get closer to age 40. To me, they represent years of taking my skin for granted; a lax skin care routine coupled with sporadic sunscreen use. …