As someone who deals with dark spots after a breakout, I can definitively say that hyperpigmentation is annoying. Your pimple is gone and all of a sudden, you’ll see a constant reminder of your not-so-clear skin. And, for black folk, the spots of melanin around your face may not fade as quickly as you’d like.
What is hyperpigmentation, anyway? To put it simply, the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology says it’s when patches of skin become darker than the normal, surrounding skin. It occurs when there’s an excess of melanin forms deposits on the skin and affects any race and skin tone. There are multiple examples of hyperpigmentation including “liver spots,” which, if you have freckles, can darken in the sun whenever you don’t wear sunscreen. (You always should, it’s proper skincare, people!!)
In order to mitigate dark spots, dermatologists recommend serums with vitamin C as well as exfoliation, and if the pigmentation is pretty deep, they’ll also recommend a professional chemical peel, but probably a cream with hydroquinone before that. One thing worth noting, however, is that you’ll have to be consistent. If you want dark spots to fade, it has to become part of your skincare routine—mini chemical peels once every two weeks, serums every night before bed, and your choice of sunscreen during the day.
In the end, I’d suggest making an appointment with a dermatologist for specific skin concerns, but if you’re looking to treat a mild case of hyperpigmentation at home, you’ll need the best products for the job.
Best Overall: The Ordinary Ascorbic Acid 8% + Alpha Arbutin 2%
This serum from The Ordinary uses vitamin C to reduce the intensity of dark spots and overall uneven skin tones. The mix works together to brighten the skin without lightning (because we don’t condone skin bleaching in these parts). Apply a couple of drops in the morning and at night before you put on sunscreen.
Best for Sensitive Skin: Vivant 8% Mandelic Acid 3-in-1 Serum
Vivant’s 3-in-1 serum is mostly for folks with sensitive skin. Since it penetrates the skin more slowly, it’s great for also treating mild acne!
Best for Uneven Skin: Ole Henriksen Truth Serum
A product tried and tested by yours truly, Ole Henriksen is the truth (pun intended). It’s made with vitamin C to treat dullness and uneven skin texture, as well as dryness. Plus it smells damn good, which is always a plus. Place this on your skin right before your SPF for the best results.
Best Moisturizer: Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer
Aveeno as a brand is known for its products centered on sensitive skin, so you won’t have to worry about skin irritation with its Positively Radiant daily moisturizer. Made with soy complex, a natural skin brightener, compounded with SPF 30, with this solution comes one less step in your routine.
Best With Retinol: CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum
This bad boy is made with niacinamide, an anti-inflammatory, and vitamin B3 to help with redness and discoloration. Because of the added antioxidants, it’ll brighten the skin and even out your skin tone, especially with the added retinol slowly seeping into your pores to reduce irritation.
Best for Dark Spots: Clinique Dark Spot Corrector & Interrupter
Clinique’s Even Better clinical dark spot corrector and interrupter serum will visibly improve dark spots over time with the company’s patented CL302 equalizer technology. It’s even safe for sensitive skin!