7 Face Serums to Try for Fading Dark Spots

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Clearer, brighter-looking skin—who doesn’t want that? Brightening serums can do just that, if you know what to look for. Holistic dermatologist, natural cosmeceuticals expert and author of the book Smart Medicine for Your Skin, Jeanette Jacknin, M.D. has several recommendations on which ingredients to look for based on your specific skin type.

“For those who prefer natural ingredients, citric acid is a natural skin-bleaching agent,” explains Dr. Jacknin. “And when combined with vitamin C (think orange and lemon extracts), it can help slow down the cells that produce melanin, which cause the skin to darken.” She also recommends trying creams with kojic acid, a fungus-derived ingredient and a natural alternative to hydroquinone, to reduce skin discoloration.

For those with sensitive, rosacea- or acne-prone skin, creams with licorice extract, specifically the glabridin derived from its roots, may be best. “Licorice extract helps treat post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (including dark spots) and can also be used to fade acne scars, soothe skin and reduce redness.”

Those with more mature skin can benefit from either bearberry or beargrape (or it’s derivative Alpha arbutin), as well as emblica (from Indian gooseberry), which is rich in antioxidants. “Emblica has been shown to protect the skin against oxidative stress, reduce wrinkles, regulate melanin production and help the skin retain its natural moisture,” says Dr. Jacknin. She also recommends white mulberry extract and vitamin B-3 (niacinamide) in brightening creams, which have been shown to reduce the production of melanin.

“Generally, it takes about two to four weeks to see effects,” says Dr. Jacknin. “I would use a brightening serum twice a day, in the morning before applying an SPF 30 sunscreen and at night. Just be consistent, and remember to back down if your skin gets irritated, red, too white or blotchy.”

Still don’t know which brightening serum to choose? Keep scrolling to see the top-selling brightening serums at Dermstore.

1. SkinMedica Lytera 2.0 Pigment Correcting Serum

This hydroquinone- and paraben-free brightening serum features niacinamide, peptides and marine extracts, among others, to treat unevenly pigmented skin, and is said to deliver results in as little as two weeks.

2. Obagi Professional-C Serum 20%

Infused with a high concentration of L-ascorbic acid, the only form of vitamin C suitable for topical application, this serum fades dark spots as it defends your skin from age-accelerating UV rays.

3. iS Clinical White Lightening Complex

This innovative blend of proprietary ingredients and botanicals lightens hyperpigmentation, evens skin tone, reduces inflammation, prevents future darkening and provides antioxidant protection. It’s also been clinically proven to reduce melanin synthesis by 37% after just 72 hours, thanks to Norwegian kelp and bearberry extracts.

4. Murad Environmental Shield Rapid Age Spot and Pigment Lightening Serum

Featuring hydroquinone, glycolic acid and botanical extracts, this lightweight gel fades existing discoloration as it exfoliates dead skin cells and soothes inflammation.

5. SkinCeuticals Phyto Corrective Gel

Great on all skin types, including sensitive and problematic skin, this gentle corrective gel uses an oil-free formulation to revive and rejuvenate skin. With a combination of anti-inflammatory and antiseptic botanicals, you’ll notice a clearer, brighter, more radiant complexion with continued use.

6. PCA Skin Pigment Gel

Reverse signs of aging and reduce sun-spot discoloration and hyperpigmentation with a combination of hydroquinone and AHAs. The lactic acid gently exfoliates your skin, removing dead skin cells, while antioxidants neutralize free radicals, which protects your skin from premature aging.

7. Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Ferulic Acid Plus Retinol Brightening Serum

Use this as either a daily serum or a spot treatment for specific problem areas. The ferulic acid provides antioxidant protection from free radicals, while the retinol reduces fine lines and wrinkles. The formulation also contains salicylic and azelaic acids as well as bearberry extract to minimize acne scars and signs of aging.


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