The Best Dark Spot Correctors To Try In 2021 - The Dermatology Review

The Best Dark Spot Correctors To Try In 2021



As if it’s not enough to deal with wrinkles, dark spots are another aging factor that can make us look older than our years. They often make a complexion look dull and mottled, robbing it of its radiance. There are two different reasons why our skin changes. Intrinsic aging is a genetically determined process that we cannot manipulate. Contributing factors include oxidative stress, glycation, your DNA, and fluctuating hormones, all of which contribute to the loss of collagen and elastin, roughness, uneven and dull skin, wrinkles, and dark spots. On the other hand, extrinsic aging is caused by circumstances we can change, such as smoking, poor sleep habits, the environment (think pollution), an unhealthy diet, drinking too much alcohol, and sun exposure — the number one cause of aging skin. Luckily, there are skincare products that specifically target pigmentation issues.

Formulyst Dark Spot Solution, $79

Formulyst Luminous Skin Serum, $49

Dr. Brandt Dark Spots No More Triple Acid Spot Minimizing Concentrate, $68

REN Clean Skincare Overnight Glow Dark Spot Sleeping Cream, $49

Verso Dark Spot Fix, $95

SkinMedica Lytera, $154

Epara Brightening Night Balm, $130

Clinique Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector, $146

Murad Rapid Age Spot And Pigment Lightening Serum, $72

Neutrogena Rapid Tone Repair Dark Spot Corrector, $17.96

Kiehl’s Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution, $56

Olay Prox Even Skin Tone Spot Fading Treatment, $31.50

Estee Lauder Enlighten Dark Spot Correcting Night Serum, $98

La Roche-Posay Pigmentclar Dark Spot Serum, $49.99

The Cause of Dark Spots

The main culprit in the battle against dark spots is tyrosinase, a key enzyme in melanin production. As you may already know, melanin is the pigment that gives our hair and skin its color, and its role is to protect the skin. It is often heightened in the skin by tanning and general sun exposure. Though it’s necessary, too much melanin is what causes dark spots and discoloration on the face and body. Dark spots can also result from hyperpigmentation due to acne scarring or spending too much time in the sun. Other causes include hormonal issues, liver damage, genetics, and various skin disorders.

Where Dark Spots Occur

Dark spots can occur anywhere on the body, though they’re mostly found on the cheeks, forehead and upper lip, or around the mouth. They can also appear on the neck, hands, and legs. But keep in mind: dark spots can pretty much pop up anywhere, especially areas of your body that are more often exposed to the sun.

Popular Ingredients in the Best Dark Spot Correctors

Thank nature (and science!) for all of the ingredients available to halt or inhibit tyrosinase. Ingredients like hydroquinone, vitamin C, niacinamide, and mulberry root have the power to stop tyrosinase in its tracks. Other ingredients you’ll encounter on this list are exfoliators like glycolic acid and salicylic acid. These acids work hard to “unglue” the skin cells that bind together and cause dullness. Once those offending cells are sloughed away, radiant, glowing, and even-toned skin can emerge.

The Best Dark Spot Correctors of 2021

Let’s dive in and look at some of the best dark spot correctors currently on the market, all of which are full of effective and oftentimes very potent ingredients to give you back the youthful, even-toned, glowing complexion.


1Formulyst Dark Spot Solution

Developed for daily use, Formulyst’s Dark Spots Solution Serum targets the appearance of dark spots and uneven skin tone caused by hyperpigmentation. Formulated with HyWhite – an alpha-linolenic acid that helps to lighten the appearance of dark spots and visibly improve the uniformity of the skin color — and a lightweight molecular hyaluronic acid – which gives an instantaneous hit of moisture — this powerful serum intensely nourishes skin, while visibly improving the tone of the complexion.

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Formulyst Luminous Skin Serum

2Formulyst Luminous Skin Serum

For brighter and smoother looking skin, pick up a bottle of Formulyst’s Luminous Skin Serum. This lightweight serum tackles dark spots and hyperpigmentation using natural ingredients, including alpha arbutin, an extract of the bearberry plant that prevents the formation of melanin; rumex extract, derived from the dogberry plant; and a biomimetic peptide that helps accelerate cell regeneration.

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Dr. Brandt Dark Spots No More Triple Acid Spot Minimizing Concentrate

3Dr. Brandt Dark Spots No More Triple Acid Spot Minimizing Concentrate

This potent spot reducer harnesses the power of a 15% complex of three acids (azelaic acid derivative, tranexamic acid, and phytic acid) along with 5% niacinamide, plankton, and turmeric. Along with visibly reducing the number, intensity, and size of dark spots, it also soothes the skin and combats any irritation associated with the lightening process.

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4 REN Clean Skincare Overnight Glow Dark Spot Sleeping Cream

A night cream and spot corrector in one, this effective treatment is clinically proven to reduce dark spots in just seven days, providing you’re consistent. An encapsulated algae complex targets pigmentation while phytoglycogen promotes a hydrated, plump, and glowing complexion.

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5 Verso Dark Spot Fix

Three potent ingredients combine to give Verso Dark Spot Fix its dark spot fading abilities. Retinol 8, turmeric, and niacinamide are the dark spot enemies promising to banish discoloration regardless of its cause. Retinol 8 is a less irritating but eight times stronger form of retinol. Unlike retinol, it can be used during the daytime without fear of any adverse reactions. Retinol 8 exfoliates to fade away excess melanin and reveal a more even-toned, brighter complexion. Turmeric and niacinamide have proved their ability to lighten dark spots time and, in combination with retinol 8, they work even better. These time-tested ingredients can be trusted to help you fade dark spots from both the face and body.

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6 SkinMedica Lytera

Loaded with skin lightening ingredients, SkinMedica’s Lytera Skin Brightening Complex targets dark spots on the face and other areas with precision. The reason it works so well is because it’s got a large variety of dark spot lightening ingredients including tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate (vitamin C), niacinamide (vitamin B3), ethyl linoleate, retinol (vitamin A), dunaliella salina extract, hexylresorcinol, and licorice root extract. Rounding out the list are tetrapeptide-30 and 4-ethoxybenzaldehyde.

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7 Epara Brightening Night Balm

Hyperpigmentation affects dark skin differently than lighter skin. For that reason, this UK skincare line is made by women of color from women of color. This dark spot corrector for black skin is formulated with African ingredients, this ultra-rich balm nourishes, deeply hydrates, and reduces dark spots, thanks to naturally derived skin brightening actives. The skin tone becomes more even and the skin looks and feels more youthful.

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8 Clinique Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector

Clinique’s Dark Spot Corrector contains a variety of plant extracts that combine to combat dark spots. Turmeric root, rice, mulberry root, cucumber, grapefruit peel, barley, birch, and wheat form a powerful team that can effectively treat a variety of skin conditions as well. Mulberry root has been shown effective in skin whitening, while also having antioxidant properties that can help scavenge free radicals. Turmeric root, of which curcumin is an active component, has shown the ability to inhibit tyrosinase. Rice has also exhibited anti-melanogenic effects, essentially curbing melanin production to reduce the formation of dark spots and treat existing ones. Cucumber, which contains vitamin C, has shown the ability to inhibit tyrosinase as well. Grapefruit peel also contains high amounts of vitamin C, making it a promising ingredient in the fight against dark spots. Birch contains salicylic acid, an exfoliant that can encourage cell turnover. Barley contains azelaic acid, which inhibits tyrosinase. Wheat contains hydroquinone, a very powerful anti-pigmenting agent present in many dark spot reducing creams and available via prescription as well. With almost all of these plant extracts being able to inhibit the key enzyme in melanin production, it’s no wonder this cream works so well.

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9 Murad Rapid Age Spot And Pigment Lightening Serum

Murad Rapid Age Spot And Pigment Lightening Serum 

contains 2% hydroquinone, the highest percentage available without a prescription. Hydroquinone is a very effective skin lightening agent that can remove dark spots, even skin tone, and lighten age spots. Hydroquinone works by interrupting the production of excess melanin. This formulation also contains vitamin C, which we’ve already established can significantly lighten skin, and glycolic acid. Glycolic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid, similar to salicylic acid, which exfoliates and protects against sun damage. Glycolic acid has even been shown to reduce irritation in sunburned skin by a significant amount. Glycolic acid has been used in the treatment of photodamaged skin (which often also includes dark spots) with great success. It works to reduce dullness by attaching to the dead skin cells on the surface of the skin and breaking them apart to allow newer skin to flourish. Newer skin is often brighter and lighter than the dead skin that was exfoliated. Glycolic acid further allows for other skincare ingredients to absorb deeper and essentially be more effective.

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10 Neutrogena Rapid Tone Repair Dark Spot Corrector

Neutrogena’s Rapid Tone Repair Dark Spot Corrector contains two powerful ingredients: ascorbyl glucoside and retinol. Ascorbyl glucoside is a stable form of vitamin C that has been combined with glucose. Vitamin C is a very potent skin lightener that has been studied extensively. When applied to the skin, ascorbyl glucoside converts to L-ascorbic acid. Why bother with ascorbyl glucoside when you can just use a product that contains L-ascorbic acid? Well, ascorbyl glucoside is much more stable. In the long run, it will last for a longer period of time and won’t degrade as quickly. L-ascorbic acid has a tendency to degrade quickly when exposed to air and light. It usually turns yellow, orange, or brown once degraded. Retinol is basically vitamin A, which is used in many acne medications because of its ability to expertly and effectively exfoliate. It has also shown to provide “consistent” improvement in treating hyperpigmented skin whether due to acne scarring, sun exposure, or simple aging. This just may be the best drugstore spot corrector.

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11 Kiehl’s Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution

The active ingredients in this formulation are vitamin C, white birch extract and peony extract. We’ve already determined that vitamin C is a tyrosinase inhibitor that can halt the production of melanin, thereby effectively reducing the appearance of dark spots for a brighter, clearer complexion. Then let’s look deeper into white birch extract and peony extract. According to Kiehl’s, both white birch extract and peony extract work with vitamin C to enhance its potency. White birch itself contains vitamin C and niacinamide (vitamin B3), which are especially effective when paired. Both lead to a more even complexion, lightening darker spots to have them match the natural lighter skin tone of the surrounding area. White birch extract is also hydrating. Peony extract is a great antioxidant that can protect from UV and free radical damage. As UV exposure can often lead to dark spots, peony extract can potentially help to prevent this from happening in the first place. Peony extract also works with the vitamin C in this formula to provide a greater skin brightening effect. In clinical studies, topically applied peony extract has also exhibited skin lightening properties.

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12 Olay Prox Even Skin Tone Spot Fading Treatment

Olay’s spot fading treatment works thanks to the power of niacinamide (vitamin B3), Undecylenoyl phenylalanine and glycerin to remove dark spots and uneven patches of discoloration while also hydrating and fortifying the skin barrier. Uneven skin tone is usually caused by UV exposure, but can be exacerbated by lack of exfoliation and a weakened skin barrier. Regular exfoliation can help in accelerating cell turnover. which in turn allows for a more glowing look. The skin barrier acts like a wall of brick and mortar to keep out pollutants and irritants. When it’s compromised, it can lead to problems like flakiness, redness, itching, and it can make it more possible for the skin to develop dark spots. In studies, topical niacinamide has provided a wealth of positive results, including reduction in wrinkles, improvement in elasticity and reduction in hyperpigmentation. It even proved effective in reducing redness and yellowing of the skin. Undecylenoyl phenylalanine works against dark spots by inhibiting melanotropin, which controls tyrosinase which in turn promotes melanin in the skin. In studies, it “significantly” reduced discoloration caused by melasma (a discoloration disorder) within four weeks. The glycerin in this formula is mainly there to provide hydration and reinforce the skin barrier. Glycerin is a humectant that draws moisture into the skin and plumps it up. Overall it also makes skin softer, more younger-looking, stronger and keeps it protected from outside irritants.

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13 Estee Lauder Enlighten Dark Spot Correcting Night Serum

Several plant extracts in the Estee Lauder Enlighten Dark Spot Correcting Night Serum make this a powerhouse against hyperpigmentation. Similar to Clinique’s Dark Spot Corrector, this formulation contains turmeric root, mulberry root, cucumber fruit, barley, grapefruit peel and rice. Many of these ingredients, like turmeric root, mulberry root and cucumber have shown the ability to halt tyrosinase from producing more melanin. Grapefruit peel in this formula helps because it contains a lot of vitamin C, another de-pigmentation agent. Barley contains azelaic acid, an ingredient often found in many anti-dark spot serums because of its ability to stop tyrosinase activity. Rice has been shown to “down-regulate melanin synthesis” in animal studies. Furthermore, this serum allows for exfoliation with its inclusion of salicylic acid. Often used in acne medications to encourage cell turnover, this ingredient breaks down the “glue” that holds cells together. This helps it to dry up pimples and remove blackheads. When it comes to treating discoloration, salicylic acid works by fading pigmentation as it sloughs off the very top layers of skin.

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14 La Roche-Posay Pigmentclar Dark Spot Serum

La Roche-Posay‘s Pigmentclar Dark Spot Serum combines the forces of Phe-Resorcinol, ferulic acid and LHA to break down dark spots and make them disappear. Phe-Resorcinol, according to the company, is 100 times more skin lightening than kojic acid, one of the best skin lightening ingredients. This is quite remarkable in and of itself, but ferulic acid and LHA also play key roles in this formulation. Ferulic acid is an antioxidant found naturally in the seeds of apples and oranges as well as some other vegetation. As an antioxidant, it fights common signs of aging like wrinkles and sagging by targeting free radicals. In studies, it has shown to be effective against melasma, which is often stubborn and hard to get rid of. LHA is an exfoliator much like glycolic acid and salicylic acid. Its mechanism involves removing dead skin cells and revealing newer cells that also make skin look more radiant.

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The Final Word

The main culprit in the battle against dark spots is tyrosinase, a key enzyme in the production of melanin. As you may already know, melanin is the pigment that gives our hair and skin its color and its role is to protect the skin. It is often heightened in the skin by tanning and general sun exposure. Dark spots can pretty much pop up anywhere, especially areas of your body that are more often exposed to the sun. Luckily, there are skincare products with ingredients that halt or inhibit tyrosinase, including hydroquinone, vitamin C, niacinamide, mulberry root, and glycolic and salicylic acids. 

,” Mayo Clinic.

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