One of the most obvious markers of youth is a glowing complexion with even skintone. Brown and red spots, and uneven patches can get in the way of that. Try a product that will brighten your skin, but keep in mind that spots are stubborn, and it could take up to six months of consistent use (plus daily sunscreen!) to see results.
“This serum combines skin-brightening ingredients and antioxidants that fade dark spots, post-acne marks, age spots and traces of visual sun damage,” says dermatologist Dr. Gervaise Gerstner. Active ingredients include vitamin B3 and pro-cysteine (an amino acid derivative), as well as vitamin Cg (a form of slow-release Vitamin C).
MORE: What Type of Spots Do You Have?
L’Oréal Paris Youth Code Dark Spot Correcting & Illuminating Serum Corrector, $24.99
If you have sensitive skin, try this gentle brightening cream from Philosophy. Formulated with niacinamide, resveratrol, peptides and linoleic acid, the corrector lightens spots without the use of more aggressive ingredients like hydroquinone, which can irritate sensitive types.
MORE: Makeup Tips for Sensitive Skin
Philosophy Miracle Worker Miraculous All-Over Brightener and Dark Spot Corrector, $62
This targeted pen spot treatment is ideal for outlying dark spots surrounded by otherwise clear skin. Power antioxidant pomegranate helps skin shed pigmented layers, while willowbark speeds up cell turnover. Squalane and nutmeg kernel oil are included to hydrate and smooth.
QUIZ: Healthy Skin Quiz—Are You Putting Your Best Face Forward?
Potent brighteners kojic acid, licorice root extract and resveratrol are contained in this formula that also boasts a patented complex of three different variations of hyaluronic acid, which deeply hydrate the skin for prime lightening conditions. Green tea and retinyl palmitate are included as super antioxidants.
RECIPE: Brighten Your Skin with Jonathan Dubuque’s Avocado Mask
Free of silicones, parabens and fragrance, this crystal-clear Kiehl’s serum blends active vitamin C’s brightening capabilities with hydrating white birch extract to increase elasticity and collagen production, as well as peony extract, which works synergistically to reverse pockets of discoloration.
MORE: What’s a Serum (and Do You Need One)
The dual-textured pads offer two options: use the smooth side for daily use, or go with the textured side for a more intense treatment. Made with a blend of natural minerals, the lightening formula exfoliates with extracts of sugar cane, sugar maple, orange, lemon and bilberry, while lactic and glycolic acids speed up cell regeneration. Kombuchka black tea brightens.
Bare Escentuals BareMinerals Intensive Glow Pads Brightening Treatment, $35
Vichy’s concentrate targets the source of melanin production with vitamin Cg, vitamin E and lipo hydroxy acid (LHA), which exfoliates the skin, and speeds up cell renewal rates. For best results, apply the lotion morning and night to the entire face for a complexion-brightening effect.
GALLERY: Brightening Concealers
A lightweight serum that quickly absorbs to a matte finish, this formula contains a prolonged release of vitamin C, which goes to work turning over current pigmentation, and preventing new spots from forming. Vitamin A, E and lemon encourage exfoliation, while essential oils of lavender and marjoram soothe and add a pleasant scent.
This exfoliating cream works while you sleep, using an intense concentration of the brand’s trademark viniferine, a polyphenol found in grapeseed that regulates melanin to reduce dark spots and brighten skin. “We also use glycolic in a smaller molecule for a time-released treatment that is gentler, so that it doesn’t hit all at once and cause redness or irritation,” says Caudalie founder, Mathilde Thomas.
MORE: How To Do An At-Home Skin Peel
Murad’s serum should send spots scurrying with these heavy-hitters: hydroquinone to fade dark pigment, glycolic acid to rapidly exfoliate dead skin cells, and potent skin lightening hexapeptide-2. Massage a thin layer on skin nightly—and if needed, expect similar results on the backs of hands and chest.
VIDEO: The Anatomy Behind Aging Skin
Neova’s complex is formulated with phenylalanine, an amino acid that targets and decreases melanin pigment-making in cells, and prevents future hyperpigmentation from reaching the skin’s surface. Licorice root and sandalwood extracts are included to lighten, and glycerin, squalane and water hydrate without clogging pores.
MORE: Pore Minimizing Secrets Revealed
As another alternative for the hydroquinone-wary, Luminaze’s treatment is based on a natural enzyme of a fungus that breaks down melanin in the bark of a tree found in the Swiss Alps. Double-blind clinical studies claim 29 percent improvement in pigmentation after 31 days of consistent use. To apply, you first pump cream from the left side and smooth of skin, and then repeat with the right side.
MORE: Discover the Perfect Hair Hue For Your Skintone
Luminaze Catalytic Skin Tone Illuminator and Dark Spot Corrector, $120
Kakadu plum delivers fifty times the vitamin C potency of oranges, and is mixed with other super antioxidants like licorice root extract and black elder flower extract to even skintone, reduce dark spots and add overall glow to the complexion. Bonus? Hydrating peptides plump wrinkles.
MORE: The Best Skincare Strategies For Your Lifestyle