So you got rid of that patch of cystic acne on your chin, and you finally started wearing sunscreen on a daily basis—congrats! We, your beauty parents, are very proud of you. But because the world is very unfair and humans are never content for long, we’re guessing that you’re now freaking out about the hyperpigmentation it all left behind—the red scars, the patchy dark marks, the pink spots, etc.
But don’t freak, because it’s all easily fixable, as long as you know which products to use. Which you now do. Because we love you. Below, the absolute best of the best complexion-brightening and spot-fading serums and lotions at every price point. Say your goodbyes, now.
Burt’s Bees Brightening Dark Spot Corrector, $20
Fact: You don’t need to use a product with a billion 16-letter-long chemicals to get real, visible results, and this lightweight serum, which uses daisy extract to gradually lighten dark spots, is proof of that. Oh, and did we mention it’s 99-percent natural?
Neutrogena Rapid Tone Repair Dark Spot Corrector, $23
Yeah, you knew retinol would be in this list somewhere, and for good reason—it’s literally the best possible ingredient for brightening skin, fading dark spots, softening fine lines, destroying acne, and turning you into a magical little unicorn. Just make sure to apply this one all over your dry skin (at night only), every other day, and stick with it through the initial flaking period.
Paula’s Choice Resist Triple-Action Dark Spot Erase 7% AHA Lotion, $27
Think of this lotion as a magic wand for virtually all of your hyperpigmentation issues. It’s filled with dark spot-preventing antioxidants, brightening and softening AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids), and the Big Kahuna: hydroquinone, a top-of-the-line skin-bleaching ingredient that rapidly lightens scars, marks, and spots. We’re gonna go ahead and say if you have sensitive skin, stay away from this sucker.
Murad Rapid Age Spot Pigment Lightening Serum, $46
With two-percent hydroquinone, and a dose of vitamin C (an antioxidant that protects skin from sun damage), this serum will completely even out your skin tone within a few months. It might be a little too intense for sensitive skin types, though, so make sure to use only a few nights a week until you’re sure your skin can handle it.
PCA Skin Pigment Gel, $46
What this little copper bottle lacks in bells-and-whistles appearances, it makes up for with a kickass ingredients list filled with lactic acid (softens bumps and raised scars), azelaic acid (evens out skin tone and kills acne-causing bacteria), and, most importantly, kojic acid, which penetrates the deepest layers of your skin barrier to prevent pigmentation from forming.
Epionce Melanolyte Pigment Perfection Serum, $99
Although hydroquinone is considered the holy grail of skin-lightening ingredients, it can also be hella irritating on sensitive or combination skin types. This creamy serum instead uses the centuries-old turmeric extract, plus a mix of mulberry root extract and fruit acids, to gently fade dark marks and redness, without the irritation.