15 Dark Spot Correctors for Bright & Even-Toned Skin

by Nikki Brown
Mar 21, 2018 at 9:00 a.m. ET
Dark Spot Correctors
Image: ImaxTree

Dark spots don’t require a lofty explanation. They’re post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, or the marks that get left behind after inflammation, such as a pimple or other irritation. And according to New York-based dermatologist Dr. Hadley King, other dark spots can be melasma, a type of discoloration that results from a combination of your hormones, genetics and sun exposure.

Regardless of where your dark spots came from, they’re generally a pain to get rid of, especially if you’re in the habit of picking while they heal. This is where dark spot correctors come in handy. They come in many forms (spot treatments, creams, gels), but the best ones contain a few key ingredients.

“I generally find that hydroquinone is the most effective ingredient for fading dark spots,” says King. “Hydroquinone is sometimes combined with a topical cortisone and a topical retinoid, and these combination products are great because each ingredient decreases the discoloration through a different mechanism. Azelaic acid is another ingredient that can also be helpful.”

It’s also important to minimize sun exposure and up your daily sun protection even after you’ve applied something topical. But because we can’t resist a little skin care magic, here are the top-rated correctors that should be on your radar.

Originally posted on StyleCaster.

1 /15: Burt's Bees Brightening Skin Perfecting Serum

Burt's Bees Brightening Skin Perfecting Serum
Image: Burt's Bees

1/15 :Burt's Bees Brightening Skin Perfecting Serum

Daisy extracts and a host of other clean ingredients work together to soothe skin and elevate your natural glow.

Brightening Skin Perfecting Serum, $20 at Burt's Bees

2 /15: Caudalie Radiance Serum

Caudalie Radiance Serum
Image: Caudalie

2/15 :Caudalie Radiance Serum

Apply this serum, made with Viniferine and olive squalane, to your face and neck before you moisturize to diminish spots.

Radiance Serum, $79 at Caudalie

3 /15: Clinique Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector

Clinique Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector
Image: Clinique

3/15 :Clinique Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector

This prescription-strength formula is made with a gentle dose of turmeric extract to brighten and exfoliate damaged skin.

Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector, $144.50 at Clinique

4 /15: Dermadoctor Photodynamic Age Spot Eraser & Skin Brightener

Dermadoctor Photodynamic Age Spot Eraser & Brightener
Image: Dermadoctor

4/15 :Dermadoctor Photodynamic Age Spot Eraser & Skin Brightener

Instead of hydroquinone, this formula includes a host of gentler but still effective brighteners, such as azelaic acid and mulberry extract.

Photodynamic Age Spot Eraser & Skin Brightener, $60 at Dermadoctor

5 /15: Estée Lauder Enlighten Dark Spot Correcting Night Serum

Estée Lauder Enlighten Dark Spot Correcting Night Serum
Image: Estée Lauder

5/15 :Estée Lauder Enlighten Dark Spot Correcting Night Serum

Apply this serum day and night before your moisturizer for one month and expect to see fewer dark spots and more brightness overall.

Enlighten Dark Spot Correcting Night Serum, $96 at Estée Lauder

6 /15: Kiehl's Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution

Kiehl's Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution Serum
Image: Kiehl's

6/15 :Kiehl's Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution

Vitamin C, peony extract and white birch extract are the star ingredients of this gentle spot corrector, which can be applied all over the face before your moisturizer.

Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution, $50 at Kiehl's

7 /15: Neutrogena Rapid Tone Repair Dark Spot Corrector

Neutrogena Rapid Tone Repair Dark Spot Corrector
Image: Target

7/15 :Neutrogena Rapid Tone Repair Dark Spot Corrector

This dark spot corrector doubles as a retinol that gently exfoliates as it diminishes the appearance of dark spots.

Neutrogena Rapid Tone Repair Dark Spot Corrector, $17.99 at Target

8 /15: Paula's Choice Resist Triple-Action Dark Spot Eraser

Paula's Choice Resist Triple-Action Dark Spot Eraser
Image: Paula's Choice

8/15 :Paula's Choice Resist Triple-Action Dark Spot Eraser

Glycolic acid and hydroquinone work together to lighten acne marks while also hydrating the surface of the skin.

Resist Triple-Action Dark Spot Eraser, $27 at Paula's Choice

9 /15: Ren Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic

Ren Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic
Image: Ren

9/15 :Ren Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic

Lactic acid and willow bark extract reduce pore size while azelaic acid brightens and evens out skin tone.

Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic, $35 at Ren

10 /15: Tarte Blemish Bully Acne Spot Treatment

Tarte Blemish Bully Acne Spot Treatment
Image: Tarte

10/15 :Tarte Blemish Bully Acne Spot Treatment

Cover just the affected area with this spot treatment one to three times daily to reduce the size of irritations and lighten dark spots.

Blemish Bully Acne Spot Treatment, $16 at Tarte

11 /15: The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%

The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%
Image: The Ordinary

11/15 :The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%

Get a straight dose of azelaic acid daily when you apply this serum all over.

Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%, $7.90 at The Ordinary

12 /15: Korres Wild Rose Brightening Targeted Tone Corrector

Korres Wild Rose Brightening Targeted Tone Corrector
Image: Korres

12/15 :Korres Wild Rose Brightening Targeted Tone Corrector

This botanical-based toner is a great corrector choice for sensitive skin that doesn't respond well to acid-based products.

Wild Rose Brightening Targeted Tone Corrector, $26 at Korres

13 /15: Murad Post-Acne Spot Lightening Gel

Murad Post-Acne Spot Lightening Gel
Image: Murad

13/15 :Murad Post-Acne Spot Lightening Gel

Hydroquinone does the brightening while plant-derived ingredients do the soothing and healing.

Post-Acne Spot Lightening Gel, $65 at Murad

14 /15: Peter Thomas Roth De-Spot Skin Brightening Corrector

Peter Thomas Roth De-Spot Brightening Corrector
Image: Peter Thomas Roth

14/15 :Peter Thomas Roth De-Spot Skin Brightening Corrector

Dealing with "pregnancy mask," or discoloration all over? This potent formula promises visible results in as little as two weeks as long as you're using it regularly.

De-Spot Skin Brightening Corrector, $75 at Peter Thomas Roth

15 /15: Sunday Riley U.F.O. Ultra-Clarifying Face Gel

Sunday Riley U.F.O. Ultra-Clarifying Face Gel
Image: Sephora

15/15 :Sunday Riley U.F.O. Ultra-Clarifying Face Gel

Slather on this lightweight gel before bed and wake up to smaller blemishes without completely drying them out.

Sunday Riley U.F.O. Ultra-Clarifying Face Gel, $80 at Sephora