Dark spots can completely ruin your skin and mar your confidence. Dark spots can cause stress and anxiety in the same way as acne. Dark spots give your skin an uneven and blotchy appearance and you can try hard to conceal them using makeup, but it’s better to address the root cause and get rid of them altogether. Dark spots are a sign that your skin isn’t healthy and there may be various reasons that cause dark spots to show up on the skin, but the major culprit is always continuous and unprotected exposure to harsh rays of sun. Other reasons are hormonal imbalance, acne, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, melasma, age spots, reaction to medication or skincare products, allergies, and reduced collagen production in the body. Hyperpigmented spots show up on skin due to increased melanin production as a result of one or more reasons mentioned above. There are two major types of dark posts – dermal and epidermal. Epidermal spots appear on the surface layer of the skin and such spots are easier to treat and they clear up relatively quickly. Epidermal dark spots are usually due to tanning. Usually skin-lightening creams with kojic acid, mulberry extracts, niacinamide can treat such dark spots. Epidermal dark spots are brown or dark brown in color and may take a few months to fade. On the other hand, dermal dark spots are located deep down in the skin layer. For such dark spots, laser treatments and chemical peels would work better. Dermal dark spots are as a result of extensive damage to sun and melasma. Dermal scars are usually blue-grey in appearance and can take a lot of time to clear up. In this post, we will look at some best dark spots correctors and skin brightening creams to get your skin back in shape.
How Do Dark Spots Appear on Skin?
Melanin is the pigment that gives skin and hair its color. Continuous exposure to sun can trigger increased melanin production and so can hormonal imbalance, certain medications, liver damage, acne, allergies can do the same. A key enzyme in the production of melanin pigment is tyrosinase and anti-pigmentation creams and medications target and inhibit the production of tyrosinase to control melanin production. Dark spots can occur anywhere on the body, particularly the parts which are exposed to sun directly, like cheeks, nose, forehead, arms, legs, back, etc.
Popular Ingredients Used in Dark Spot Correctors and Skin Brightening Creams
Dermatologists usually recommend topical tyrosinase inhibitors in topical dark spot correctors and creams. In severe cases, they recommend chemical peels, microdermabrasion, laser resurfacing, and laser treatment. Tyrosinase is an enzyme made by the body which helps in the production of melanin. Tyrosinase converts tyrosine by oxidation into melanin. Most topical creams and medications target tyrosinase and disrupt the melanin production cycle. Here are some popular ingredients that treat dark spots and you should always look for them if you want to get rid of dark spots:
- Niacinamide: Niacinamide penetrates the skin and keeps melanin from reaching the top layer of skin. Our recommendation: The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% with Zinc 1%, First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Hydra Firm Sleeping Cream, Skin Inc Supplement Bar vitamin B3 + Niacinamide Serum Troubled Rescue Troubled Skin, Murad Revitalixir Recovery Serum, Glamglow Instamud 60-Second Pore Refining Treatment, Eve Lom White Advanced Brightening Serum.
- Salicylic acid: Salicylic acid is an exfoliating agent which penetrates deep into the skin and removes deep-rooted freckles. We recommend Farmacy Honeymoon Glow AHA Resurfacing Night Serum, Caudalie Vinopure Natural Salicylic Acid Pore Minimizing Serum, Dr. Dennis Gross Ferulic Acid + Retinol Brightening Solution, Kate Somerville Liquid Exfolikate Triple Acid Resurfacing Treatment, Peter Thomas Roth Professional Strength 40% Triple Acid Peel, Ole Henriksen Goodnight Glow Retin-ALT Sleeping Creme, Origins Skin Matte Moisturizer with Willowherb.
- Glycolic acid: Glycolic acid penetrates into the skin and exfoliates the skin. Glycolic acid lightens freckles, dark spots, and acne scars. It can also give you bright and beautiful skin. Our suggestions would be Pixi Glow Tonic, The Ordinary Glycolic Acid Toner, Drunk Elephant TLC Framboos Glycolic Acid Night Serum, Peter Thomas Roth Professional Strength 40% Triple Acid Peel.
- Lactic acid: Lactic acid lightens dark spots and freckles with regular use. Our suggestions would be Sunday Riley Good Genes All-in-One Lactic Acid Treatment, Ren Clean skincare Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask, Dr. Dennis Gross Clinical Grade IPL Dark Spot Correcting Serum, Dior Capture Youth Collection, First Aid Facial Radiance Intensive Peel.
- Hydroquinone: Hydroquinone is a controversial skin bleaching agent. Overuse of hydroquinone can cause grey patches to develop and thinning of skin, so use it with caution and under the supervision of your doctor. If you just want to brighten skin tone and remove tan, skip hydroquinone. Our recommendations: Murad Post-Acne Spot Lightening Gel, Proactiv Advanced Dark Spot Correcting Serum.
- Vitamin C: Vitamin C brighten skin and fade away scars. We suggest Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum, Sunday Riley Rapid Flash Brightening Serum, Peter Thomas Roth Potent C Power Serum, Ole Henriksen C Rush Brightening Gel, Tatcha Violet C Radiance Mask, Kiehl’s Powerful Strength Line Reducing Concentrate 12.5% vitamin C, Peter Thomas Roth Potent C Targeted Spot Brightener, Perricone MD Vitamin C Ester Brightening Moisturizer.
- Rosehip oil: Sun spots and freckles can be reduced to a great extent by applying rosehip oil. Rosehip oil can lighten and even out skin tone too. You have to absolutely stock up rosehip oil if you have freckles. We suggest The Ordinary Rosehip Oil, Palmer’s Skin Therapy Oil.
- Kojic acid dipalmitate: Kojic acid dipalmitate can clear away dark spots with regular use. Consult your doctor to find out whether kojic acid dipalmitate is correct for your skin type.
- Licorice extract: Licorice is the most natural way to fade away scars and freckles. Our suggestions – Skin Inc Supplement Bar Licorice Serum, Fresh Peony Brightening Night Treatment Mask, Sunday Riley UFO Clarifying Face Oil.
- Alpha Arbutin: Alpha arbutin inhibits the activity of tyrosinase, which in turn inhibits melanin formation. With regular use, alpha arbutin can brighten your complexion and fade away dark spots. Our suggestions – Sunday Riley Tidal Brightening Enzyme Water Cream, First Aid Beauty 5-in-1 Face Cream, The Ordinary Alpha Arbutin and Vitamin C.
- Retinol: Retinol is one of the best ingredients to treat dark spots along with vitamin C. Retinol is a form of vitamin A and it brightens the skin tone as well. Our suggestions – Drunk Elephant Retinol Cream, Ole Henriksen Goodnight Glow Retin-Alt Sleeping Creme, Murad Active Retinol Renewal Kit, Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Serum, Peter Thomas Roth Retinol Fusion PM, Kate Somerville Retinol Vita C Power Serum.
- Scutellaria baicalensis extract: This is a potent herbal extract that helps make skin firm and dark spots disappear. Our suggestions: Shiseido Urban Environment Oil-Free UV Protector Broad Spectrum Face Sunscreen.
- L-ascorbic acid: 100% ascorbic acid is the purest form of vitamin C and it can lighten and brighten skin tone with regular use. We suggest The Ordinary 100% L-Ascorbic Powder
- Azelaic acid: Azelaic acid can not only treat acne, it can lighten dark spots without bleaching skin. Azelaic acid also prevents breakouts, so that’s a double bonus for your skin. Our suggestions: Philosophy The Microdelivery Triple Acid Brightening Peel, Ren Clean Skincare Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic, Tarte Blemish Bully Acne Spot Treatment, Dermadoctor Photodynamic Spot Eraser and Skin Brightener.
- Retinoid: Retinoids break down the rough top layer of the skin and curb the production of melanin. Our suggestions – Ren Clean Skincare Bio Retinoid Anti-Wrinkle Concentrate Oil, Philosophy The Microdelivery Resurfacing Peel, Sunday Riley Sleeping Night Oil, Ole Henriksen Nurture Me Moisturizing Crme.
- Mulberry extract: Mulberry is a natural ingredient that can clear dark spots and blemishes. Our suggestion: Dr. Andrew Weil For Origins Mega-Bright Dark Spot Correcting Night Mask, Dermadoctor Photodynamic Therapy Age Spot Eraser and Skin Brightener.
A note about Hydroquinone and other ingredients:
Stay away from hydroquinone and other bleaching agents because long-term use of hydroquinone can cause thinning of the skin and also blue grey patches. Stay away from steroid creams which can harm your body if taken for prolonged periods. Do not use skin bleaching creams, they can cause irreparable damage. Do not use skin creams with mercury as ingredient, it has been banned all over the world because of its dangerous effects. Baking soda is not for skin, it will provide just temporary results and will damage your skin in the long run.
Procedures To Get Rid of Dark Spots Permanently:
- Chemical peels: Usually alpha hydroxy acid peels, TCA peels, glycolic acid, salicylic acid, and lactic acid peels are used by doctors to lighten skin tone, clear dark spots, to correct melasma and hyperpigmentation. Chemical peels penetrate deeply into the skin and clear away hyperpigmented patches and discolorations.
- Laser treatment: Laser is used widely to treat hyperpigmented, scars, and uneven skin tone. CO2 laser and Erbium lasers are the most popular laser treatments that are used to lighten skin tone. Laser shows quick results, within a few sittings and is the most effective way to lighten skin tone.
- Intense pulsed light therapy: Intense pulsed therapy can reduce dark spots and stimulate collagen formation. Intense pulsed light under the supervision of a certified doctor. Intense light therapy can also reduce the appearance of fine lines and smooth out the texture of skin.
- Microdermabrasion: Microdermabrasion is a clinical exfoliating procedure that can clear hyperpigmentation, dark spots, discoloration.
- Vitamin C: Vitamin C can lighten and brighten complexion, and clear dark spots when taken both orally and applied topically. Pick vitamin C serums and topical ointments with at least 20% to lighten dark spots.
Best Dark Spot Correctors and Skin Brightening Creams:
1. Murad Rapid Age Spot and Pigment Lightening Serum: This is a fast-acting treatment featuring hydroquinone fades dark spots, age spots, and freckles. It also evens out skin tone to reveal a clearer, brighter complexion while helping prevent future pigment formation.
WHERE TO BUY- SEPHORA | ULTA | BIRCHBOX
2. Kiehl’s Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution: A dark spot corrector that claims to visibly diminishes the appearance of skin discolorations to boost skin clarity.
WHERE TO BUY: SEPHORA | BLOOMINGDALE’S
3. Dr. Dennis Gross Clinical Grade IPL Dark Spot Correcting Serum: Dr. Dennis Gross formulated Clinical Grade IPL Dark Spot Correcting Serum helps to fade stubborn dark spots and discoloration for an even and radiant complexion. Loaded with the proven concentration of 10% L-ascorbic acid, lactic acid, kojic acid, and arbutin, this pro-level formula is clinically shown to reduce the appearance of sun spots, age spots, and dark patches in weeks.
WHERE TO BUY: SEPHORA
4. Peter Thomas Roth Potent-C Targeted Spot Brightener: A potent dark spot treatment powered by Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Ferulic Acid and advanced skin brightening actives.
WHERE TO BUY: ULTA | SEPHORA
5. Shiseido White Lucent Microtargeting Spot Corrector:
This intensive anti-spot serum helps diminish the appearance of dark spots and hyperpigmentation for skin that looks perfectly translucent. It thoroughly targets various types of spots; from those that are particularly dark and defined to the scattered, smaller spots that are blurred and widely distributed over the face. Target spots with laser speed. Resist the appearance of spots over time.
WHERE TO BUY: SEPHORA | ULTA | DILLARDS
6. Dr. Andrew Weil Origins Mega Bright Dark Spot Correcting Serum:
This highly concentrated serum is fortified with Dr. Weil’s natural light-infusing complex including Rosa roxburghii, White Peony and Licorice. It helps visibly reduce dark spots and correct skin tone.
WHERE TO BUY: SEPHORA
7. Estee Lauder Enlighten Dark Spot Correcting Night Serum:
This intensive serum helps reduce the look of uneven skin tone and helps diminish dark spots.
WHERE TO BUY: SEPHORA | DILLARDS | SAKS FIFTH AVENUE
8. Clarins Super Restorative Night Age Spot Correcting Replenishing Cream:
A powerful replenishing, age spot correcting formula that helps restore skin’s density and unify the complexion.
WHERE TO BUY: SEPHORA | DILLARDS | ULTA
9. Verso Dark Spot Fix with Retinol:
Dark Spot Fix has a high dose of Verso’s signature Retinol 8 complex, together with niacinamide and curcumine, to inhibit the production of melanin and help reduce the appearance of brown patches.
WHERE TO BUY: DERMSTORE | REVOLVE CLOTHING
10. La Roche-Posay Pigmentclar Dark Spot Serum:
This dark spot reducer serum visibly reduces the appearance of dark spots and uneven skin tone. Formulated with a potent combination of phe-resorcinol, ferulic acid and micro-exfoliating lipo-hydroxy acid.
WHERE TO BUY: DERMSTORE | SKINSTORE
11. Paula’s Choice Triple Action Dark Spot Eraser:
This specialized anti-aging product with glycolic acid and hydroquinone improves the appearance of brown skin discolorations, while refining and hydrating the surface of skin. It also exfoliates skin to reveal smoother skin and reduce the appearance of dark spots.
WHERE TO BUY: PAULA’S CHOICE | SKINSTORE
12. Ole Henriksen Truth Serum:
A powerful anti-aging serum formulated with vitamin C and collagen for brightening and all-day hydration. It clears spots and blemishes wiht regular and continued use.
WHERE TO BUY: OLE HENRIKSEN
14. Dr Dennis Gross Ferulic Acid + Retinol Brightening Solution
A fast-absorbing liquid retinol serum supercharged by ferulic acid to retexture skin and visibly reduce fine lines for an instantly smoother, more even, lit-from-within glow.
WHERE TO BUY: SEPHORA | SPACE NK | DILLARDS
15. The Ordinary 100% Rosehip Oil:
It’s a very inexpensive way to get rid of dark spots and brighten overall complexion. The Ordinary Rosehip Oil helps to reduce hyperpigmentation marks, dark spots, age spots, and brightens skin tone. It’s great for sensitive skin too and has absolutely no side effects.
WHERE TO BUY: CLOUD 10 BEAUTY | PRETTY LITTLE THING
16. Sunday Riley All-In-One Lactic Acid Treatment:
Good Genes All-In-One Lactic Acid Treatment is formulated with potent, purified grade lactic acid that immediately exfoliates dull, pore-clogging dead skin cells, revealing smoother, fresher, younger-looking skin. Fine lines appear visually plumped while the skin looks more radiant. With continued use, the appearance of stubborn hyperpigmentation and the visible signs of aging are reduced for a healthier-looking complexion. It is also enriched with licorice for bright skin.
WHERE TO BUY: SEPHORA | SKINSTORE | DERMSTORE
17. The Ordinary Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA:
A concentrated serum with purified Alpha Arbutin and Hyaluronic Acid. Alpha Arbutin reduces the looks of spots and hyper-pigmentation. It’s used at a high 2% concentration versus a standard concentration of 1% and supported with a next-generation form of Hyaluronic Acid for enhanced delivery.
WHERE TO BUY: ESCENTUAL | CLOUD 10 BEAUTY | MANKIND