ow amazing would it feel to wake up every morning to bright, smooth, even-toned skin? Sounds like a dream come true, doesn't it?
Unfortunately, dark spots can be a major roadblock in achieving this dreamy, luminous-skin scenario. But, whether you have age spots, redness, blemish scars, sun damage, or an uneven complexion, many beauty experts say a well-formulated spot corrector can offer an easy, long-term solution for hyperpigmentation.
"Many people have been told that they need lasers or other expensive treatments to see a visible difference in their dark spots," explains board-certified dermatologist Dr. Erum Ilyas, "[but] there are plenty of simple things you can do to brighten your skin's appearance without paying a visit to my dermatology clinic."
"When you address the appearance of pigmentation with the right ingredients, by choosing the right product, you’ll often find that you can get a very similar, even better outcome, as well as long term results," Dr. Ilyas adds.
So, to help you choose the best dark spot corrector, our beauty editors recommend looking for a skincare product that contains clean, naturally derived ingredients. We love that clean beauty products don't include any known or potentially harsh or irritating substances like parabens, phthalates, or sulfates. For a product meet clean standards it should also be cruelty-free while reducing environmental impact — plus work wonders for your skin!
Here's what to look for:
Brighter, even-toned skin awaits! Here are our beauty editor's picks for the 5 best dark spot correctors that actually work.
Named “Best Brightening Serum” by Vogue, Tru Alchemy Spot Check is a lightweight, two-in-one serum that delivers an all-over brightening effect, while also targeting dark spots to reveal a smoother, more even-toned complexion. It's packed with radiance-boosting actives like niacinamide, white shiitake mushroom, and a blend of phytic, lactic, and glycolic acids to reduce the appearance of discoloration and UV damage. Plus, this serum’s patented form of hyaluronic acid delivers intense hydration (sans oil) for a refreshed, dewy look.
The results? Several reviewers noted that their skin looks more luminous with fewer visible dark spots. “I’ve only been using this for over a week and already I see a difference on my face. My skin tone is evening out, my face feels moisturized, and I look younger,” one mentioned. And, we love that you can even use Spot Check on your hands, neck, and décolletage. Best of all, Tru Alchemy's price is extremely reasonable for the quality of the ingredients in the product compared to the rest of the serums on our list.*
Active Ingredients: Niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, white shiitake mushroom, vitamin C, betaine, tranexamic acid, polyglutamic acid, brightening acid blend | Benefits: Brightens, smooths & hydrates skin, visibly improves dark spots & discoloration | Clean Formula: Yes | Free Of: Hydroquinone, mercury, synthetic dyes, synthetic fragrances, petroleum, sulfates | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Price Point: $59 | Return Policy: 60-days
If you have dark spots or if your skin is just looking dull, Murad’s Rapid Dark Spot Correcting Serum can help. This serum contains three powerful ingredients that will fade dark spots and bring out your natural glow: tranexamic acid (to illuminate skin), glycolic acid, as well as Murad’s signature resorcinol technology (to visibly improve both texture and tone).
Murad's gentle correcting serum is the perfect way to prep your skin before applying moisturizer—earning it positive ratings from satisfied customers who report visible improvement in hyperpigmentation, UV damage, and uneven tone. However, their formula contains ingredients we recommend avoiding, like PEG-40 and sodium hydroxide, which take this serum off our clean beauty list.*
Active Ingredients: Tranexamic acid, glycolic acid, resorcinol technology | Benefits: Brightens skin, visibly improves dark spots & evens out tone | Clean Formula: No | Free Of: Parabens, Sulfates, Phthalates, Gluten, Animal-Derived Ingredients, Mineral Oil, Formaldehyde, Oxybenzone, Petrolatum/Petroleum | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Price Point: $78 | Return Policy: 60-days
If you're looking to give your skin a major boost, look no further than Dr. Dennis Gross Clinical Grade IPL Dark Spot Correcting Serum. This high-quality formula is packed with lactic and kojic acids that exfoliate dull, dead skin cells and help remove any leftover dirt from pores.
Alongside these powerful brightening agents comes L-ascorbic acid (vitamin C) along with naturally derived arbutin, which help diminish dark spots and discoloration.
However, some customers have reported the formula doesn’t layer well with other products and left their skin feeling sticky, even after letting it absorb. But with all of the positive reviews on its dark spot lightening abilities, we had to add it to our top 5.*
Active Ingredients: Lactic acid, kojic acid, arbutin, L-ascorbic acid, sodium hyaluronate |Benefits: Improves the appearance of dark spots, hydrates skin & evens tone | Clean Formula: Yes | Free Of: Parabens, Sulfates, Phthalates, Gluten, Animal-Derived Ingredients, Mineral Oil, Formaldehyde, Oxybenzone, Petrolatum/Petroleum, Fragrance | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Price Point: $92 | Return Policy: 30-days
Discoloration Defense by SkinCeuticals has been a popular choice for anyone looking to reduce the appearance of dark spots, sun damage, and fine lines. The antioxidant formula features a blend of niacinamide and kojic acid which help brighten the complexion while visibly minimizing wrinkles and post-blemish scars.
This dark spot treatment is a cult favorite, but you’ll have to be willing to splurge! At $102, Skinceuticals Discoloration Defense is the most expensive on our list. And, unfortunately, it’s not cruelty-free. However, its gentle formula can be used daily on the face or neck, even if you have sensitive skin.*
Active Ingredients: Kojic acid, tranexamic acid, niacinamide | Benefits: Brightens skin, visibly reduces dark spots & wrinkles | Clean Formula: No | Free Of: Parabens, fragrance, silicone, gluten, hydroquinone | Cruelty-Free: No | Price Point: $102 | Return Policy: 30-days
Biossance’s Dark Spot Serum features a mild 10% vitamin C (good for sensitive skin), squalane, and white shiitake mushroom to visibly lighten sun spots and hyperpigmentation. This silky serum claims to deliver faster, more effective, and longer-lasting results without the traditional irritation of more potent forms of vitamin C.
Although most customers mentioned that this serum was very moisturizing, unfortunately, many of them didn’t notice a significant change in their dark spots.* One user even wrote “I used this for about 6 months and there’s been no change in my dark spots.”
Active Ingredients: Vitamin C, squalane, white shiitake mushroom | Benefits: Moisturizes skin, visibly improves dark spots | Clean Formula: Yes | Free Of: Hydroquinone, fragrance, PEGs | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Price Point: $62 | Return Policy: 60-days