The only thing I find more annoying than acne breakouts are the dark spots they often leave behind, which is especially the case if you have brown skin. Hyperpigmentation is extremely common for women of color and one of the main skin concerns we bring up when visiting a dermatologist.
“Pigment cells (melanocytes) have a unique arrangement and distribution in the skin in persons with skin of color,” says NYC-based dermatologist Dr. Fran Cook-Bolden. “They have significantly great amounts of specific types of pigment (ie Eumelanin) and the pigment cells are much more reactive to outside stimuli, so when the sun is intense or there is trauma to the skin, watch out — here comes the healing with discoloration.”
“What happens is the skin will overproduce melanin during its healing stage and hyperpigmentation is the result,” adds “Samantha Mims, a black Holistic Skin Therapist and founder of Dermasaa. “It’s stubborn and no fun but can be treated.”
That’s the good news. In fact, dark spots and hyperpigmentation are absolutely treatable and there are a number of great and innovative products that drastically reduce the appearance of dark spots and eventually get them to fade away with time. But don’t expect them to disappear overnight. Dark spots can take weeks — in some cases even months — to fully fade away. The key to speeding things up is finding the right skin-care approach and having a whole lot of patience.
Fortunately, there’s a wide array of brightening products to choose from. But the options can get overwhelming. Where do you even begin, right? Here’s a look at some of the best dark spot treatments on the market that will get your skin looking bright and radiant in no time!
Klairs Freshly Juice Vitamin C Serum
I call this serum my miracle potion. There’s a reason why it’s become a cult favorite among so many beauty influencers and vloggers and it’s because it really does work — trust me! I’ve been consistently using this serum for about a week and not only have I already noticed my dark spots fading, but my skin is significantly softer, smoother, and more radiant. Unlike most vitamin C serums, this one is gentle enough for even super sensitive skin types like mine. No irritation or redness here — just a brighter and more even skin tone.
Klairs Freshly Juice Vitamin C Serum, $23, Available at sokoglam.com
Klairs Freshly Juice Vitamin E Mask
Vitamin C serums work wonders but they work even better paired with a vitamin E treatment like this lightweight overnight mask designed to use with the Klairs Freshly Juice Vitamin C Serum. The heavy dose of vitamin E and niacinamide work to brighten skin while also protecting your skin from any sun sensitivity you can develop from using vitamin C products. The unique pudding-like texture is deeply hydrating leaving skin super smooth and moisturized — I’m obsessed.
Klairs Freshly Juice Vitamin E Mask, $27, Available at sokoglam.com
Dr. Dennis Gross Clinical Grade IPL Dark Spot Correcting Serum
If you’re a fan of Dr. Dennis Gross’ popular Alpha Beta glowing peel pads you’ll LOVE this innovative formula, designed to help fade dark spots and discoloration, leaving skin even and radiant. It’s formulated with ingredients like lactic acid, kojic acid, and arbutin that help reduce the appearance of sun spots, age spots, and dark spots in just a few weeks while also fighting fine lines and wrinkles.
Dr. Dennis Gross Clinicial Grade IPL Dark Spot Correcting Serum, $92, Available at drdennisgross.com
Renee Rouleau Vitamin C & E Treatment
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If you want to age smartly, a vitamin C serum needs to be part of your morning skin ritual. ☕️The benefits of using Vitamin C&E Treatment are endless: skin brightening, brown spot fading, blemish scar healing, collagen building, skin cell protecting, free radical revenging, sun protection boosting and the list goes on and on. If you're looking to improve how your skin acts and looks, start using this serum every day underneath sunscreen. Link in profile. #reneerouleau #ReneeRouleauGLOW #vitamincserum #rr1
What did I say about vitamin C & E? When you combine these ingredients together, skin magic happens. This gentle, non-sting formula is perfect for anyone with ultra-sensitive skin that’s prone to redness, irritation, or blotchiness and works to lighten dark spots while drastically approving your skin’s complexion. It’s also light enough to use as a day cream underneath your moisturizer or foundation. You really can’t go wrong with this one.
Renee Rouleau Vitamin C & E Treatment, $68, Available at reneerouleau.com
Herbivore Prism Exfoliating Glow Serum
I absolutely love this super lightweight serum. It’s formulated with natural fruit acids and botanical extracts that work to exfoliate, hydrate, and even skin tone naturally. In other words, without the chemicals. Perfect for the girl who is trying to fade her dark spots while also going greener with her beauty routine. I noticed a little tingle the first few uses but it never irritated my skin or triggered redness which is a big deal considering how incredibly sensitive my skin is.
Herbivore Prism Exfoliating Glow Serum, $62, Available at herbivorebotanicals.com
Drunk Elephant T.L.C Elephant
While a dark spot correcting serum is key to fading away dark spots, so is a good exfoliator when it comes to removing dull and dead skin cells that lay on the surface. But physical exfoliators can only do so much. This AHA/BHA “facial” works like a chemical exfoliator designed with glycolic acids that work to smooth texture, minimize the appearance of pores, fine lines, wrinkles, and dark spots without the sensitizing and irritation that you’d normally expect from skincare products with glycolic acids. Don’t use more than once weekly.
Drunk Elephant T.L.C Elephant, $80, Available at sephora.com
Mario Badescu Glycolic Foaming Cleanser
Another great way to rid your skin of dark spots and manchas is by washing your face one to two times a week with a glycolic foaming cleanser. This particular brightening solution works to address dullness, hyperpigmentation, and old acne marks, leaving skin looking brighter and more youthful. If you have sensitive skin though, make sure to do a patch test to make sure the product isn’t too strong for your skin type.
Mario Badescu Glycolic Foaming Cleanser, $16. Available at mariobadescu.com
Glow2OH Dark Spot Toner
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Wishing for spring weather (and spring skin)? Glow2OH brings the ✨ and keeps winter blahs at bay. Who else loves this toner? #BuhByeDarkSpots – Glow2OH Dark Spot Toner reduces the look of dark spots in 7 days, targets fine lines and wrinkles, brightens AND is cruelty- and alcohol-free 💙
If you’re a skincare addict, chances are you already know the benefits that come with incorporating a toner into your regimen. This brightening formula contains high concentrations of AHAs (glycolic and lactic acids) along with witch hazel to dramatically reduce the appearance of dark spots in a matter of days This potent solution gives you results and quickly but might be a bit harsh for more sensitive skin types.
Glow2OH Dark Spot Toner, $28, Available at OleHenriksen.com