Key Ingredients: Glycolic acid, lactic acid, witch hazel, sandalwood extract, lemon
Who It’s For: Normal, combination, dry, and oily skin
An Advanced Vitamin C: Kiehl’s Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Correcting Serum
Why It’s Worth It: Kiehl’s Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Correcting Serum will give you that glow from within, thanks to a special form of vitamin C called activated C, which breaks up the melanin particles that a dark spot is made up of.
Editor Tip: Over time, with regular use, you’ll witness a lot less hyperpigmentation in your complexion. White birch extract helps even skin tone and peony extract protects skin against free radicals, which can lead to dark spots.
Key Ingredients: Vitamin C, salicylic acid, glycerin
Who It’s For: All skin types
Best for Firming: Drunk Elephant Protini Powerpeptide Resurf Serum
Why It’s Worth It: Drunk Elephant’s Allure Best of Beauty Award-winning Protini Powerpeptide Resurf Serum includes a harmonious mixture of 10% lactic acid, a gentle chemical exfoliant, and hydrating peptides. This powerful combination makes it tough enough to tackle dark spots and hyperpigmentation without causing irritation to more sensitive skin types.
Editor Tip: For even more improvement in radiance and bounce, tack on the Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Cream (it’s real good).
Key Ingredients: Lactic acid, peptides, amino acids
Who It’s For: Normal, dry, combination, and oily skin
Best Drugstore Pick: Differin Dark Spot Correcting Serum
Why It’s Worth It: Differin really is a drugstore classic that constantly proves it can get the job done. The brand’s Dark Spot Correcting Serum is spiked with 4% niacinamide and vitamin C to gradually and effectively reduce the appearance of dark spots, acne scars, sun spots, and more.
Editor Tip: This pick is also formulated sea buckthorn berry, which works in tandem with niacinamide to soothe the skin. Another crowning feature? This lightweight, watery gel absorbs in what feels like mere seconds.
Key Ingredients: Vitamin C, niacinamide, sea buckthorn berry
Who It’s For: Mature, normal, and combination skin
What is hyperpigmentation?
All of those aforementioned, typically unwanted spots on the skin fall under the umbrella of hyperpigmentation. Caused by the cells responsible for your skin’s color, melanocytes, depositing excess pigment into deeper levels of the skin, these forms of discoloration can be incredibly frustrating for those who strive for an even-toned complexion — especially since it can be tough to reverse.
How do you treat hyperpigmentation?
“In general, hyperpigmentation is tough to treat and a chronic condition,” New York City-based board-certified dermatologist Dhaval Bhanusali, MD, tells Allure, noting that he explains to his patients that it must be taken seriously because it’s so easy for it to recur. Although some patients choose to undergo laser treatments for their dark spots to address their hyperpigmentation with customized prescription compounds — Dr. Bhanusali often blends a high dose of hydroquinone with kojic acid and vitamin C for his patients — there are ways to combat discoloration and uneven skin tone without often-expensive in-office procedures and topical medications.