Question: I’m concerned about dark spots. What are the best ingredients for fading them and how quickly can I expect to see results?
Answer: According to dermatologist Dr. Patricia Wexler, as soon as you start noticing dark spots from sun damage, which tend to show up in your 20s, it’s time for a retinol with vitamin C. “The combination of vitamin A and C will tackle wrinkles and lines, lackluster skin, enlarged pores and pigmentation very effectively,” says Wexler, who adds that you don’t have to wait for wrinkles to develop to start a retinol regimen. If, however, you are sensitive to retinol or want more targeted treatments for faster results, look for products with melanozyme (Elure, a line of brightening products that Wexler calls “one of the best out there,” uses it), which “breaks down pigments at the skin level, so instead of inhibiting the production, it actually works when you see the pigmentation;” arbutin; and haloxyl peptide, which is “especially good for pigmentation around the eyes and through the blood vessels.” Exfoliation is also a key step when it comes to breaking down pigmentation and “if used regularly, glycolic and salicylic acid certainly help,” says Wexler. She recommends Clinique Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector, Bliss That’s Incredi-Peel and Strivectin Labs Dual Phase Peel, all of which have acids along with anti-inflammatory antioxidants to help skin heal better from the damage. “Within a month, you should start seeing improvement, but you won’t see results if you’re not using it in combination with a high number dark spectrum SPF,” she warns.