Dark spots don’t require a lofty explanation. They’re post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, or the marks that get left behind after inflammation, such as a pimple or other irritation. Regardless of where your dark spots came from, they’re generally a pain to get rid of, especially if you’re in the habit of picking while they heal. This is where the best dark spot correctors come in handy. They come in many forms (spot treatments, creams, gels), but the best ones contain a few key ingredients.
“I generally find that hydroquinone is the most effective ingredient for fading dark spots,” says New York–based dermatologist Hadley King, MD. “Hydroquinone is sometimes combined with a topical cortisone and a topical retinoid, and these combination products are great because each ingredient decreases the discoloration through a different mechanism. Azelaic acid is another ingredient that can also be helpful.”
It’s also important to minimize sun exposure and up your daily sun protection, even after you’ve applied something topical. According to Dr. King, other dark spots can be melasma, a type of discoloration that results from a combination of hormones, genetics, and sun exposure.
Ready to get rid of those spots for good? Check out our favorite dark spot zappers, below.
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Murad Rapid Dark Spot Correcting Serum
This year, Murad ditched its best-selling Rapid Age Spot and Pigment Lightening Serum for this patented 4-Ethyl resorcinol-infused serum. Without the common ingredient hydroquinone, it promises to address those dark spots without any drying side effects. Read our full review here.
Hero Cosmetics Lightning Wand
After you’ve used the brand’s pimple patches to help heal a breakout, roll on some of this brightening and exfoliating serum enriched with niacinamide, tranexamic acid and vitamin C.
Peace Out Microneedling Dark Spot Brightening Dots
For a more targeted approach, Peace Out’s patches use niacinamide, licorice extract and tranexamic acid inside tiny little microneedles. The ‘needles” dissolve into the skin overnight.
Clinique Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector
This prescription-strength formula is made with a gentle dose of turmeric extract to brighten and exfoliate damaged skin.
The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution
The peel is meant to be applied and worn for just 10 minutes max and is a powerhouse blend of alpha-hydroxy acids and beta-hydroxy acids for exfoliation on and beneath the skin’s surface. See ore The Ordinary products for reducing dark spots here.
Kiehl’s Since 1851 Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution
Vitamin C, peony extract, and white birch extract are the star ingredients of this gentle spot corrector, which can be applied all over the face before your moisturizer.
Neutrogena Rapid Tone Repair Dark Spot Corrector Face Serum
This dark spot corrector doubles as a retinol that gently exfoliates as it diminishes the appearance of dark spots.
Hyper Clear Brightening Clearing Vitamin C Serum
This Black-owned brand’s serum continues to sell out for the way its 15-percent vitamin C formula reduces dark spots, while kojic acid, vitamin E and fruit enzymes brighten.
Dr. Brandt Dark Spots No More Triple Acid Spot Minimizing Concentrate
A whopping 10 percent azelaic acid derivative works to brighten skin tone, while 3 percent tranexamic acid prevents discoloration and 2 percent phytic acid exfoliates.
Dermadoctor Kakadu C 20% Vitamin C Serum with Ferulic Acid & Vitamin E
This serum has some of the most potent vitamin C around brighten and help fight free radical damage.