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Clear Skin Ahead

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See Spots Run

Half-marathon training has you on your way to a new PR, but you've noticed some small brown spots on your face. "Runners and outdoor enthusiasts are more susceptible to hyperpigmentation because of their increased sun exposure," says Mona Gohara, MD, a dermatologist in New Haven, Connecticut, and a FITNESS advisory board member. Although often referred to as age spots, these marks have nothing to do with your DOB; instead, they're a reflection of lifetime exposure to UV rays. "People with pale skin tones, including light-skinned Latinas and African-Americans, are more genetically predisposed to these spots," Dr. Gohara says.

Prevent Them
The number-one way to stop brown spots is diligent sun protection. Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher every day. Dr. Gohara suggests using one that contains vitamin C, like Obagi Professional-C Suncare SPF 30 ($70, obagi.com for locations) -- the antioxidant helps prevent hyperpigmentation. Also, skip glittery makeup that's silica based. "The little particles create micro-tears in the skin, causing blotchy discoloration," Dr. Gohara says.

Treat Them
Ditch harsh exfoliators, which only do more damage to the skin. In the morning, wash with a foaming cleanser, like Simple Foaming Facial Cleanser ($7, drugstores), and then smooth on an antioxidant-rich serum. We like Mario Badescu Vitamin C Serum ($45, mariobadescu.com). The best way to prevent spots -- SPF! -- is also crucial for treating them. Reapplication is key. Dr. Gohara recommends keeping an easy-to-use mineral formula, like ColoreScience SunForgettable Mineral Sunscreen Brush SPF 30 ($52, colorescience.com for locations), with you so that you can apply it on the go. In the p.m., take off your makeup with Aveeno Positively Radiant Makeup Removing Wipes ($7, drugstores), which contain a soy complex to help fade spots. Wash with your cleanser, then use an effective lightening combo of retinol -- try Vichy LiftActiv Retinol HA Concentrate ($55, vichyusa.com) and hydroquinone -- we like Peter Thomas Roth De-Spot Plus ($78, Sephora stores). For a natural alternative to hydroquinone, look for products with licorice root, coffee berry or daisy extracts. One we love: Burt's Bees Brightening Dark Spot Corrector ($20, drugstores). Dr. Gohara suggests a two-month-on, two-month-off rotation when using hydroquinone, but says to continue using retinol.

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