A new treatment for age spots is gaining credibility. It is based on glucosamine, which is an amino sugar that forms chitins (the stuff that makes exoskeletons on shellfish). Glucosamine for cosmetic use is harvested from crustaceans. Typically, the stable derivative, N-acetyl glucosamine (NAG), is used. NAG also penetrates the skin easily.
A study in Japan on 50 women (aged 25-55) showed that glucasamine and niacinamide help tone down age spots. A Harvard dermatologist oversaw another study of 200 subjects (aged 40-60). Half used a sunscreen and a moisturizer with glucasamine and niacinamide and the other half a sunscreen and moisturizer without the actives. It was concluded that the actives resulted in a reduction in hyper-melanized spot size and heterogeneity of melanin distribution.
In a 'split-face' clinical test for Proctor & Gamble, using a topical 2% NAG, it was concluded that it reduced the appearance of facial hyperpigmentation. A second study showed that it worked even better combined with 4% niacinamide.
The P&G study found that the two complexes stimulated the production of hyaluronic acid, a key process in the rehydration of skin, as well as increased collagen expression. This suggests that it could be an anti-ager as well since improved hydration led to a visible reduction in the fine lines and wrinkles of the women who tested the formulation, particularly in the eye area of the face.