Whether a byproduct of an aggressive breakout, sun damage, or a greater skin condition, dark spots and hyperpigmentation are a common issue. “Any inflammation in the skin can also lead to a light or dark mark, which can be subsequently be worsened following sun exposure,” Robert Finney, a board-certified dermatologist at Entière Dermatology in NYC tells BAZAAR.com. “So the most common cause of discoloration of depends on age, with acne of past reigning supreme in younger patients, UV damage in older patients, and many other factors in between.”
Most dark spot correctors use a powerful combination of active ingredients like vitamin C, niacinamide, and kojic acid to effectively brighten skin. Erica Stevens, a dermatologist at Buda Medical Center in Buda, TX, says one of the most potent brighteners is hydroquinone—which is available over the counter or through a prescription from your dermatologist—which is the “gold standard” in dark spot correction. And for sensitive or combination skin types dealing with hyperpigmentation, acne, and rosacea, finding a product containing powerful yet gentle azelaic acid is key.
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While topical treatments can help drastically fade an uneven complexion over time, experts recommend accompanying your serum or cream of choice with a sunscreen containing at least SPF 30 to keep skin protected. “One of the least acknowledged truths about treating hyperpigmentation is that sunscreen is the very first step the most important step in improving them. Sunscreen is extremely important in protecting the skin from harmful UVA/UVB rays and also visible light which drives hyperpigmentation in melanin-rich skin more than other skin tones,” says board-certified dermatologist and founder of Tone Dermatology in Chicago, IL, Caroline Robinson. “In these cases sunscreen is more that just protective it is essential in the treatment of hyperpigmentation. Sunscreens that contain iron oxide and carry a tint tend to provide better protection against visible light. After consistent sunscreen I recommend topical tone correctors that contain a blend of antioxidants and proven actives and in office treatments like chemical peels, microneedling, and laser. As always pigment is tricky and stubborn pigment is reason to see a board-certified dermatologist.”
To help you fade hyperpigmentation and lingering marks even faster, we’ve rounded up a few of the best dark spot correctors on the market that are worth adding to your range of skincare staples.