Whether you are coping with a dark mark left behind by a blemish, spots that indicate sun damage, age spots, or hormone-induced melasma, finding the perfect dark spot corrector for you may prove to be a worthwhile feat—especially should you end up piling on the makeup to cover them up. Ahead, we’ve got the entire insight from dermatologists about hyperpigmentation, plus 19 hardworking serums and solutions they recommend to assist you to fade dark spots — no in-office treatment required.
Our Top Picks:
- Best Overall: SkinCeuticals Discoloration Defense Multi-Phase Serum, $108
- Best for Acne-Prone Skin: Hyper Skin Fade & Glow AHA Mask, $48
- Worth the Splurge: SkinMedica TNS Advanced+ Serum, $295
- Best Exfoliating: Murad Rapid Dark Spot Correcting Serum, $83
- Most Travel-Friendly: Neutrogena Rapid Tone Repair 20% Vitamin C Serum Capsules, $41
- Best Spot Treatment: Hero Cosmetics Mighty Patch Micropoint for Dark Spots, $13
- Best for Inflammation: Paula’s Choice 10% Azelaic Acid Booster, $39
- Best Preventative Treatment: Clinique Even Better Clinical Radical Dark Spot Corrector, $85
- Best Brightening Effect: Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Niacinamide Dew Drops, $35
What is hyperpigmentation?
All of those aforementioned, typically unwanted spots on the skin fall under the umbrella of hyperpigmentation. Caused by the cells chargeable for your skin’s color, melanocytes, depositing excess pigment into deeper levels of the skin, these types of discoloration could be incredibly frustrating for individuals who strive for an even-toned complexion — especially since it might be tough to reverse.
How do you treat hyperpigmentation?
“In general, hyperpigmentation is hard to treat and a chronic condition,” New York City-based board-certified dermatologist Dhaval Bhanusali, MD, tells Allure, noting that he explains to his patients that it should be taken seriously since it’s really easy for it to recur. Although some patients decide to undergo laser treatments for his or her dark spots to handle their hyperpigmentation with customized prescription compounds — Dr. Bhanusali often blends a high dose of hydroquinone with kojic acid and vitamin C for his patients — there are ways to combat discoloration and uneven skin tone without often-expensive in-office procedures and topical medications.
That’s where these over-the-counter options are available. Often made with the identical lively ingredients that dermatologists use in prescription compounds, these serums and creams contribute to more even-toned skin and reduced hyperpigmentation with consistent use.
What ingredients are best to combat dark spots?
“When targeting hyperpigmentation, you desire to use multiple ingredients which have different functions,” David Kim, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Idriss Dermatology in New York City, tells us. “For example, you desire to use a vitamin A derivative to extend cell turnover, alpha hydroxy acids to enzymatically exfoliate, and incorporate azelaic acid, kojic acid, or arbutin to scale back melanin production,” Dr. Kim explains, adding that tranexamic acid is especially helpful for melasma.
All of that said, there may be one particular skin-care product dermatologists recommend across the board to get dark spots under control — and that’s sunscreen. “Before you spend your money on antioxidant serums and retinoids to enhance the tone and texture of your skin, crucial first step is diligent day by day sun protection, which is essential to reducing the looks of brown spots,” says board-certified dermatologist Shari Marchbein, MD, also based in New York City. “Otherwise you’re literally throwing your money away investing in other skin-care products,” she adds. Dr. Kim backs this up, adding that SPF combined with vitamin C within the morning minimizes UV damage, prevents excessive melanin production, and contributes to a brighter complexion overall.
Got your sunscreen checked off? Good. Here are a few of the perfect dark spot correctors and hyperpigmentation-fading products to pair along with your SPF 30 or higher. Just ensure that you are consistent with using these skin-brightening products — every single day, folks — and you will see amazing (but gradual) leads to as little as a month.