Those freckles that were once adorable when you were young are now simply a sign of your youthful (and current) sun exposure indiscretion. At some point, the same speckles are given the unfortunate name of “dark spots.” Even worse, hyperpigmentation has been called out as the most conspicuous sign that your skin is starting the aging process. While you can certainly seek out the fading power of a dermatologist’s laser, there are also topical remedies to diminish the dark spots. Here, the best of the best when it comes to fading dark spots for good.
L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives 10% Pure Gylcolic Acid Serum
Physical exfoliants like gritty scrubs can be too harsh for sensitive skin. Instead, polish away hyper-pigmentation with Glycolic acid. (The word “acid” makes it sound scary, but it’s actually way gentler on your skin.) L’Oréal’s Revitalift Gylcolic Acid Serum contains a potent 10 percent Glycolic acid concentration, the highest amount allowed over the counter. Apply the lightweight (and derm-backed) formula to slough away dead skin cells, revealing clearer, brighter, more evenly-toned skin while you plump fine lines and wrinkles at the same time.
L’Oréal Revitalift Glycolic Acid Serum, $23.99; Amazon.com
Kiehl’s Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution
Activated vitamin C works to break up skin discoloration and dark spots, revealing a more even and uniform skin tone. White birch extract restores moisture and boosts collagen production. Dark spots are lightened and your complexion is left hydrated and healthy, too.
Kiehl’s Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution, $50; sephora.com
Estée Lauder Enlighten Dark Spot Correcting Night Serum
Buckle up ’cause we about to get a little science-y. The biomimetic enzyme and plum blossom extract work to lighten stubborn dark spots while the dimethoxytolyl propylresoricnol prevents new spots from appearing. As for the less than fifteen letter chemical side of things? Cucumber and sunflower add a blast of soothing hydration.
Estée Lauder Enlighten Dark Spot Correcting Night Serum, $96; sephora.com
GlamGlow Flashmud Brightening Treatment
Oh, the power of a good mask. The brightening and exfoliating trio of Salicylic acid, Lactic acid, and vitamin C team-up to buff away dull skin cells and diminish dark pigmentation. And because dead skin is sloughed away immediately, you’ll notice instant results.
GlamGlow Flashmud Brightening Treatment, $59; sephora.com
Ole Henriksen Power Bright 3-Step Professional Brightening System
Dermatologist results in the comfort of your own home—sign me up. The Power Bright is an at-home brightening system that utilizes 25 percent vitamin C for brighter, younger looking skin. The product is delivered across a three-step routine: A gentle sugar mask, a potent vitamin C concentrate, and a sudsy cleanser, all of which work together to perk up a dull complexion.
Ole Henriksen Power Bright 3-Step Professional Brightening System, $55; sephora.com
Murad Rapid Age Spot and Pigment Lightening Serum
When targeting dark spots, it’s all about the active ingredient (i.e. what’s doing all the corrective work). This rapid-acting serum utilizes two percent concentration of hydroquinone, the most clinically proven skin-lightener on the market.
Murad Rapid Age Spot and Pigment Lightening Serum, $69;
Paula’s Choice Resist Dark Spot Eraser
The two percent dose of skin-lightening hydroquinone fades dark spots and discoloration while glycolic acid exfoliates for smoother, younger-looking skin.
Paula’s Choice Resist Dark Spot Eraser, $27; sephora.com
Sunday Riley Good Genes
Lactic acid kills dull pore-clogging dead skin cells (bye, Felicia!) to reveal smoother and fresher looking skin. The lightening product can double as a serum or a mask with its creamy fluid texture.
Sunday Riley Good Genes, $158; sephora.com
SkinCeuticals Advanced Pigment Corrector
Say goodbye to dark spots new and old: Salicylic acid works to fade the dull zones you already have as it also enhances the effects of hydroxyphenoxy propionic acid, a derivative of hydroquinone that inhibits melanin production.
SkinCeuticals Advanced Pigment Corrector, $92; dermstore.com
Sunday Riley Tidal Brightening Enzyme Water Cream
This cream’s unique velvety texture feels like silk and leaves skin radiant and baby-soft thanks to hyaluronic acid, exfoliating papaya enzymes, and spot-fading bird of paradise extract.
Sunday Riley Tidal Brightening Enzyme Water Cream, $65; sephora.com
Shiseido White Lucent MicroTargeting Spot Corrector
Those lovely cherry blossoms that just came and went are good for more than Instagram bait. They help prevent future spots from cropping up, which is why they’re packed into this targeted treatment (and given the science-y name SAKURAResist Technology) that zeroes in on your most troublesome marks.
Shiseido White Lucent MicroTargeting Spot Corrector, $132; sephora.com
Origins Dr. Andrew Weil For Origins™ Mega-Bright Dark Spot Correcting Serum
Another blossom that works like gangbusters to tone down the appearance of dark spots is the hard to-pronounce rosa roxburghii. This lovely flower, white peony, and licorice work together in this potent serum to make skin look decidedly less dull.
Origins Dr. Andrew Weil For Origins Mega-Bright Dark Spot Correcting Serum, $57; sephora.com
MDSolarSciences Evening Facial Repair Serum
Derms will tell you that retinol is the closest thing to a magic bullet that there is for skincare. And when included in this serum it aims to help minimize hyperpigmentation. Chamomile and aloe ensure the oft-irritating ingredient doesn’t visibly (or invisibly) piss off your skin.
MDSolarSciences Evening Facial Repair Serum, $75; sephora.com
La Prairie Cellular Swiss UV Protection Veil SPF 50
It’s been said by smart people that the best defense is a good offense but the opposite is actually true of spots. By slathering your skin in sunscreen, you can prevent the need for a hyperpigmentation intervention in the future. For damage that’s already been done, this SPF also comes with melanin-reducing licorice extract.
La Prairie Cellular Swiss UV Protection Veil SPF 50, $185; nordstrom.com
May Coop White Activator
Korea was at the forefront of brightening before the category was ever a glimmer in our American eyes, so you can trust that the formulas that come out of that country are going to kick ass. This one is loaded with proven brighteners niacinamide and arbutin, while teeny, tiny moisture-boosting molecules get you glowing.
May Coop White Activator, $14; amazon.com
Chanel Le Blanc Day/Night Intensive Spot Treatment
These pocket-sized pens, one formulated for a.m., one for p.m., have powers that belie their dimensions. Sure, the ergonomic shape allows for easy application, but packed into the compact cylinder are potent ingredients like the mysteriously named Double Action TXC, along with less enigmatic, yet equally powerful pearl, daytime specific geranium, and made-for-nighttime Alpinia extracts.
Chanel Le Blanc Day/Night Intensive Spot Treatment, $130; barneys.com