These Skin Care Products Actively Fight (and Reduce!) Hyperpigmentation
A brighter, clearer complexion is on the horizon.
Despite anyone's best efforts to avoid the sun or leave a cystic pimple alone, brown spots can seemingly appear out of nowhere—what's worse is that they can be very frustrating to treat. These pesky patches of discoloration take on many forms from post-blemish scarring to freckles and sunspots. "Brown spots are collections of extra pigment in the skin," explains board-certified dermatologist Dr. Joshua Zeichner. "Exposure to UV light, pollution, and high energy physical light all stimulate extra pigment production which can lead to brown spots."
When it comes to treating them, a targeted approach is best. Luckily, many over-the-counter products are formulated with key ingredients to fade discoloration and improve your overall complexion. "To fade hyperpigmentation, look for products with brightening ingredients like hydroquinone, kojic acid, phytic acid, and L-asorbic acid," advises board certified dermatologist Dr. Dendy Engelman. Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA) and beta-hydroxy acids (BHA) also play a major role in tackling discoloration by exfoliating the top layers of skin and promoting cellular renewal.
"Using AHA and BHA combined together is a powerful way to improve the tone and texture of the skin," says Dr. Shari Marchbein. For smoother and brighter skin, look to antioxidant serums that contain vitamin C and powerful retinoids that work to shed darkly pigmented spots. And finally, no treatment is more effective than prevention. "Most importantly, diligent daily sun protection is key to preventing and reducing the appearance of brown spots," stresses Dr. Marchbein. Ahead, some of our favorite and dermatologist-recommended products to fight brown spots.
Dr. Dennis Gross
A favorite among dermatologists, these peel pads are pre-dosed with alpha and beta hydroxy acids to lift away dead skin cells and improve uneven tone; they are individually packaged for convenience and are gentle enough for daily use.
Shop Now: Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel, $88, sephora.com.
"MELÉ's dark spot corrector is a hydroquinone alternative made especially for women with Black or Brown skin. It's packed with antioxidants and vitamin A derivatives," says Dr. Mona Gohara, an associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale School of Medicine.
Shop Now: MELÉ Even Dark Spot Control Facial Serum for Melanin Rich Skin, $23.99, target.com.
This serum is clinically proven to reduce the appearance of stubborn brown spots thanks to a combination of powerful ingredients. "It contains a blend of niacinamide, kojic acid, and tranexamic acid that work together to calm inflammation and block abnormal pigment production," explains Dr. Zeichner.
Shop Now: Skinceuticals Discoloration Defense, $98, dermstore.com.
Differin Dark Spot Correcting Serum
Dr. Barbara Sturm
This cult-favorite brightening serum promises an instant glow upon application, deep hydration from hyaluronic acid, and protection against free radicals—what more could you want?
Shop Now: Dr. Barbara Sturm Brightening Serum, from $115, nordstrom.com.
Like a facial in a bottle, this resurfacing mask sloughs off dead skin cells to reveal radiant and smooth skin. Plus, the airtight pump makes it easy and mess-free to apply.
Shop Now: T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial™ AHA + BHA Mask, from $28, sephora.com.
"This system contains a stabilized form of retinol to not only strengthen the foundation of the skin and improve fine lines and wrinkles, but to help the skin shed cells that are packed with pigment," says Dr. Zeichner.
Shop Now: RoC Retinol Correxion Max Wrinkle Resurfacing System, $28.99, ulta.com.
Say goodbye to hyperpigmentation for good. "These capsules contain two powerhouse ingredients to help the skin heal: vitamin C for skin brightening and ceramides to prevent moisture loss," notes Dr. Engelman.
Shop Now: Elizabeth Arden Vitamin C Ceramide Capsules Radiance Renewal Serum, $87, ulta.com.
Sleek, compact, and incredibly easy to apply, these brightening pens (one for day, one for night) deliver pinpointed treatments formulated to target stubborn spots.
Shop Now: Chanel Le Blanc Day/Night Intensive Spot Treatment, $130, nordstrom.com.
For those with sensitive skin, serums with antioxidant protection can help alleviate redness. "This helps to improve both uneven skin tone and redness, so I especially love this for those with sensitive skin and rosacea," says Dr. Marchbein.
Shop Now: Skinbetter Alto Defense Serum, $155, skinbetter.com.
Made from a powerful blend of 20% lactic, glycolic, and mandelic acids, this serum dramatically repairs the visible effects of sun damage. This product also works well on sun-damaged chests.
Shop Now: Renée Rouleau Pro Results Power Serum, $55, reneerouleau.com.