Stubborn hyperpigmentation, or dark marks on the complexion from age, sun exposure and acne, can have an effect on our self-confidence.
So what’s the best way to treat it at home? You should include preventative measures, like wearing SPF and minimizing inflammation during breakouts (aka no squeezing!).
You should also seek active ingredients to quell the creation and spread of the pigment melanin. Dr. Lily Talakoub of McLean Dermatology & Skincare recommends kojic acid, licorice root extract, arbutin and vitamin C to treat hyperpigmentation. For acne scars, she suggests glycolic acid and azelaic acid, and caffeine and niacinamide to address any lingering redness (erythema). It’s also important to note that dermatology’s previous go-to skin-lightener, hydroquinone, is now surrounded by controversy regarding toxicity.
On that note, here are 10 hydroquinone-free products to score an even complexion.
Surprise! The holy grail Lotion P50 toner comes in a variation made for hyperpigmented skin. Exfoliating acids (from AHAs to PHAs), niacinamide, fermented wasabi extract and more inhibit melanin production, keep skin clear and protect the integrity of the skin.
The new, clean vitamin C serum brightens, smoothes and firms the skin in addition to its antioxidant protection. A bark extract called Ellagi-C stimulates the skin’s fibroblasts (cells that repair damage and create collagen), while Granactive Peptide 1518, brightening resveratrol and mulberry improve the skin’s vitality. Use it on its own or add it to any serum to give your regimen a glow-getting boost.
CBD fan? Consider your life changed. Acerola cherry happens to be a great natural source of vitamin C, whose brightening effects are joined by the enzymes and papain found in papaya. Meanwhile, 500 mg of anti-inflammatory CBD helps prevent the risk of developing post-inflammatory scarring following a breakout.
A 15% brightening active complex — containing tranexamic acid, niacinamide, kojic acid, alpha arbutin and pentapeptide — work synergistically to even skin tone and fade unwanted pigment. A reviewer on Sephora notes that after two months, this new launch has her using less concealer.
This beauty oil leaves skin texture impossibly smooth and the complexion looking noticeably brighter. For a visible glow, massage two drops of this botanical medley — made from anti-aging bakuchiol and rose hibiscus (aka nature’s botox), vitamin C and DNA-repairing oud — onto the face, and enjoy.
Here is a great pick for acne-sufferers, as it treats red scars and indentation. The potent, water-free buy is formulated with pharmaceutical galactomyces ferment filtrate, niacinamide, tranexamic acid and snail mucin for results that start to show in approximately a month.
If you’re on a budget, the Beautylish newcomer combines two anti-pigment actives, tranexamic acid and niacinamide with skin-quenching hyaluronic acid. Skip your vitamin C and other acids while using it, and start looking for signs of improvement in roughly four weeks.
Vitamins C, E and ferulic acid create a powerful trio of pigmentation-fighters that work synergistically to fade discoloration. Added hyaluronic acid leaves you with lingering hydration to boot, and a proprietary botanical blend makes for a great base for makeup that follows.
The honey-powered brand uses glycolic, lactic and pyruvic acids — the same exfoliating acids used by derms in in-office peels — to resurface away damaged skin cells. The powerful blend is combined with honey, botanical extracts and plant-derived squalane oil to make the treatment nourishing too.
Vitamins A, C and E, retinyl palmitate and essential oils join forces to deliver dewy skin overnight. Two words: antioxidants galore.
Those of us with finicky skin types know that scarring can leave behind texture problems in addition to discoloration. Aly Korchemniy, the founder of ANISA Skin, declares this potent blend of resurfacers — which combines the resurfacing, collagen-boosting active, retinol with brightening lactic acid — to be “magical.”
The Ayurvedic holistic healing tradition informs the line’s formulas — including amla. Amla, or Indian gooseberry, is one of nature’s most potent antioxidants and natural hyperpigmentation-fighters. Four to five drops of this rosehip seed oil, neem, Brahmi and amla blend fortifies collagen production, softens fine lines and nourishes.
The celebrity esthetician’s top treatment for acne scars is this synergistic blend of vitamins C and E. Both lipid- and water-soluble forms of the antioxidants join forces with licorice root and Kakadu plum to deliver brightening effects deeply into the skin.
Everyone needs to know about clean beauty’s newly launched retinaldehyde-powered cream, a less irritating alternative to retinol. The brand draws from a vast blend of organic, wild-harvested botanicals to join forces with soothing oils, shea butter and hyaluronic acid for skin cell regeneration and anti-aging nourishment.
K-Beauty first introduced us to the healing, anti-inflammatory effects of cica. Apply this spot corrector, which also features white willow bark extract and hyaluronic acid to lighten up dark spots on the complexion.
xx, The FabFitFun Team