best serums for dark spots

The Best Serums to Fade Dark Spots

Hyperpigmentation doesn’t have to last forever.

By: Hannah Baxter

While your skin will thank you for exposing it to less UVA/UVB rays this fall, you unfortunately might still have leftover damage from your summer in the sun. Even the most diligent among us can forget to apply adequate sunscreen while at the beach or by the pool, which inevitably results in unwanted dark spots. But there are dozens of serums on the market specially formulated to combat the effects of sun damage and hormone-induced dark patches.

In order to learn what ingredients to look out for, we consulted aesthetician to the stars Joanna Czech for her favorite skin brighteners. “Kojic acid,” she explained via email. “It’s an antioxidant that brightens [and] inhibits the production of tyrosinase (the enzyme required for melanin synthesis). Niacinamide (vitamin B3) helps skin maintain normal barrier function, reduces skin sensitivity, increases the level of ceramides in the skin, and improves tone and texture. Ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate is made by mixing vitamin C with isopalmitic acid. It’s oil-soluble, so it penetrates skin faster than any other form of vitamin C out there. It fights free radicals that cause premature aging, boosts collagen production, increases UV photoprotection, and lightens dark spots and discolorations.”

In order to help fade dark spots once and for all, we rounded up six of the most highly recommended serums on the market. When used as a part of a consistent skin-care regimen, they are your best plan of attack for luminous, even skin. Check them out below.


Radiance + Range by Environ, $108

This is Joanna Czech’s favorite line of products for discoloration. You mix two serums together (packed with artichoke and plum extract, among others), along with a prep lotion, to effectively fade spots and nourish skin. And like the best products out there, you’ll feel like a bit of a mad scientist in the process!

Sunday Riley C.E.O. Rapid Flash Brightening Serum, $85

Formulated with 15 percent stable vitamin C, this serum is not messing around. It helps fight dullness and discoloration while bringing out your skin’s natural luminosity. It’s also paraben- and sulfate-free and ideal for sensitive skin.

SkinMedica Lytera 2.0 Pigment Correcting Serum, $154

A blend of niacinamide, peptides, and marine extracts gives this serum its efficacy. It’s suitable for all skin tones and types, and helps keep your skin barrier healthy while brightening. Plus, dermatologists swear by it.

Clinique Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector & Optimizer, $80

A potent combination of salicylic acid, turmeric root extract, and grapefruit peel extract makes this dark spot corrector a longtime favorite of many a beauty editor. Apply twice a day for maximum results, and be sure to use a quality sunscreen, as salicylic acid can make skin extra sensitive to the sun.

Murad Rapid Age Spot and Pigment Lightening Serum, $69

Hydroquinone, which is used in this serum, is extremely effective at fading dark spots, but it should only be used in the appropriate products with the right formulation. This serum will help improve skin tone and lighten discoloration while helping to prevent future pigmentation.

Skin Better Even Tone Correcting Serum, $140

If you’d rather stay away from retinol or hydroquinone, this serum is a fantastic alternative. If you experience significant yellowing of the skin with hyperpigmentation, the combination of ceramides and citric acids will help heal and brighten your overall complexion.

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