7 Under-$25 Ways To Fade Dark Spots — Without A Trip To The Dermatologist

·4 min read

Nobody asks to end up with hyperpigmentation, but plenty of people find themselves dealing with it anyway. The story is always the same: An uninvited pimple, bug bite, or patch of eczema sets up shop on your skin, way overstays its welcome, and leaves behind a mottled mess of post-inflammatory dark spots.

You can easily lose hours and rack up debt on chemical peels, trips to the dermatologist, and fancy pigment-fading creams in the name of spot-free skin. But while most of those methods are effective (and pro-approved), they aren't the end-all-be-all for treating the condition. "Products containing hydroquinone, tranexamic acid, kojic acid, and arbutin all help to treat hyperpigmentation," says Corey L. Hartman, MD, a dermatologist at Skin Wellness Center in Alabama. "Glycolic and salicylic acid also increase exfoliation and help to treat the acne that can lead to hyperpigmentation."

The good news for people sticking to their 2020 budgets (and taking skin care seriously as we social-distance)? Drugstore shelves are packed with products containing these powerful ingredients. Ahead, seven ways to clear dark spots — without destroying your bank account.

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<h2>Neutrogena Rapid Tone Repair Dark Spot Corrector</h2><br><br>"This product has the two most important components of any anti-aging skin care regimen to fade dark spots <em>and </em>treat wrinkles, so it works double time," says Dr. Hartman. He's referring to retinol and vitamin C, both of which help resurface uneven skin tone and improve the appearance of dark spots over time.<br><br><strong>Neutrogena</strong> Rapid Tone Repair Dark Spot Corrector, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ulta.com%2Frapid-tone-repair-dark-spot-corrector%3FproductId%3DxlsImpprod6430305" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Ulta Beauty" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Ulta Beauty</a>

Neutrogena Rapid Tone Repair Dark Spot Corrector



"This product has the two most important components of any anti-aging skin care regimen to fade dark spots and treat wrinkles, so it works double time," says Dr. Hartman. He's referring to retinol and vitamin C, both of which help resurface uneven skin tone and improve the appearance of dark spots over time.

Neutrogena Rapid Tone Repair Dark Spot Corrector, $, available at Ulta Beauty
<h2>Ambi Fade Cream<br></h2><br>"Hydroquinone remains the gold standard for treatment of hyperpigmentation," Dr. Hartman tells us. This O.G. drugstore formula contains 2% of the spot-fading ingredient, compared to the 4% usually prescribed by dermatologists, he explains. "It provides effectiveness with a lower risk of adverse side effects, but it should not be used for longer than three months without consulting a professional," he says. A word of warning: Hydroquinone can cause hypopigmentation, or excessive lightening of the skin, so be sure not to overdo it.<br><br><strong>Ambi</strong> AMBI Fade Cream Oily Skin, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.target.com%2Fp%2Fambi-fade-cream-oily-skin-2-oz%2F-%2FA-13534121%3Fref%3Dtgt_adv_XS000000%26AFID%3Dgoogle_pla_df%26fndsrc%3Dtgtao%26CPNG%3DPLA_Beauty%252BPersonal%2BCare%252BShopping_Local%26adgroup%3DSC_Health%252BBeauty%26LID%3D700000001170770pgs%26network%3Dg%26device%3Dc%26location%3D9004339%26ds_rl%3D1246978%26ds_rl%3D1248099%26gclid%3DEAIaIQobChMI--Oxve2B6wIVcuW1Ch1_4QDgEAQYASABEgKCS_D_BwE%26gclsrc%3Daw.ds" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Target" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Target</a>

Ambi Fade Cream


"Hydroquinone remains the gold standard for treatment of hyperpigmentation," Dr. Hartman tells us. This O.G. drugstore formula contains 2% of the spot-fading ingredient, compared to the 4% usually prescribed by dermatologists, he explains. "It provides effectiveness with a lower risk of adverse side effects, but it should not be used for longer than three months without consulting a professional," he says. A word of warning: Hydroquinone can cause hypopigmentation, or excessive lightening of the skin, so be sure not to overdo it.

Ambi AMBI Fade Cream Oily Skin, $, available at Target
<strong><h2>Specific Beauty Advanced Dark Spot Corrector Pads Facial Treatments</h2></strong><br>Most spot treatments pack a mean punch for fighting pigmentation, but you aren't limited to serums and creams: You can also incorporate potent exfoliators, like these corrective pads, to aid the fading process. Heather Woolery-Lloyd, MD, founder of <a href="https://www.specificbeauty.com/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Specific Beauty" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Specific Beauty</a>, tells Refinery29 that each pad is soaked in vitamin C and kojic acid to target spots <em>and </em>improve the brightness of your complexion overall.<br><br><strong>Specific Beauty</strong> Advanced Dark Spot Corrector Pads Facial Treatments , $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.target.com%2Fp%2Fspecific-beauty-advanced-dark-spot-corrector-pads-facial-treatments-5-fl-oz%2F-%2FA-75574192%3Fref%3Dtgt_adv_XS000000%26AFID%3Dgoogle_pla_df%26fndsrc%3Dtgtao%26CPNG%3DPLA_Health%252BBeauty%252BShopping%26adgroup%3DSC_Health%252BBeauty%26LID%3D700000001170770pgs%26network%3Dg%26device%3Dc%26location%3D9060351%26gclsrc%3Daw.ds%26ds_rl%3D1246978%26ds_rl%3D1247077%26ds_rl%3D1246978%26ref%3Dtgt_adv_XS000000%26AFID%3Dgoogle_pla_df%26CPNG%3DPLA_Health%2BBeauty%2BShopping%26adgroup%3DSC_Health%2BBeauty%26LID%3D700000001170770pgs%26network%3Dg%26device%3Dc%26location%3D9060351%26gclid%3DCj0KCQiAsdHhBRCwARIsAAhRhsl-MrmKj8iTNIxr02J68lVkR9BwXmX7GN2cPuzwtmukGRw6aQvMt84aAg_3EALw_wcB%26gclsrc%3Daw.ds" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Target" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Target</a>

Specific Beauty Advanced Dark Spot Corrector Pads Facial Treatments


Most spot treatments pack a mean punch for fighting pigmentation, but you aren't limited to serums and creams: You can also incorporate potent exfoliators, like these corrective pads, to aid the fading process. Heather Woolery-Lloyd, MD, founder of Specific Beauty, tells Refinery29 that each pad is soaked in vitamin C and kojic acid to target spots and improve the brightness of your complexion overall.

Specific Beauty Advanced Dark Spot Corrector Pads Facial Treatments , $, available at Target
<strong><h2>Urban Skin RX Dark Spot Rapid Repair Retinol Treatment </h2></strong><br>Consider this serum a triple threat against your lingering dark marks: Retinol, kojic acid, and niacinamide all work together to lighten spots and keep your skin texture smooth and fine line-free.<br><br><strong>Urban Skin RX</strong> Dark Spot Rapid Repair Retinol Treatment , $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.target.com%2Fp%2Funscented-urban-skin-rx-dark-spot-rapid-repair-retinol-treatment-1oz%2F-%2FA-53412250" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Target" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Target</a>

Urban Skin RX Dark Spot Rapid Repair Retinol Treatment


Consider this serum a triple threat against your lingering dark marks: Retinol, kojic acid, and niacinamide all work together to lighten spots and keep your skin texture smooth and fine line-free.

Urban Skin RX Dark Spot Rapid Repair Retinol Treatment , $, available at Target
<strong><h2>Garnier Dark Spot Corrector Treatment</h2></strong><br>Thanks to a formula rich in vitamins C and E, this dark-spot treatment works to brighten your skin and encourage a healthy complexion overall. Exfoliating lipohydroxy acid (LHA) also increases cell turnover, so dull, scarred skin fades — fast.<br><br><strong>Garnier</strong> Dark Spot Corrector Treatment, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.walgreens.com%2Fstore%2Fc%2Fgarnier-skinactive-clearly-brighter-dark-spot-corrector-treatment%2FID%3Dprod6320710-product" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:walgreens.com" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">walgreens.com</a>

Garnier Dark Spot Corrector Treatment


Thanks to a formula rich in vitamins C and E, this dark-spot treatment works to brighten your skin and encourage a healthy complexion overall. Exfoliating lipohydroxy acid (LHA) also increases cell turnover, so dull, scarred skin fades — fast.

Garnier Dark Spot Corrector Treatment, $, available at walgreens.com
<strong><h2>L'Oreal Paris Youth Code Dark Spot Corrector Serum</h2></strong><br><a href="https://www.instagram.com/drmichellehenry/?hl=en" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Michelle Henry" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Michelle Henry</a>, MD, dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon at <a href="https://www.drmichellehenry.com/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Laser & Skin Surgery Center of New York" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Laser & Skin Surgery Center of New York</a>, recommends this potent niacinamide-packed serum to nix hyperpigmentation. It melts into a smooth, silky finish and leaves any skin type newly glowing after a few uses.<br><br><strong>L'Oreal Paris</strong> Youth Code™ Dark Spot Corrector Serum, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.target.com%2Fp%2Fl-oreal-174-paris-youth-code-153-dark-spot-corrector-serum-1-fl-oz%2F-%2FA-13742791%3Fref%3Dtgt_adv_XS000000%26AFID%3Dgoogle_pla_df%26fndsrc%3Dtgtao%26CPNG%3DPLA_Health%252BBeauty%252BShopping%26adgroup%3DSC_Health%252BBeauty_Top%2BPerformers%26LID%3D700000001170770pgs%26network%3Dg%26device%3Dc%26location%3D9067609%26gclsrc%3Daw.ds%26ds_rl%3D1246978%26ds_rl%3D1247077%26ds_rl%3D1246978%26ref%3Dtgt_adv_XS000000%26AFID%3Dgoogle_pla_df%26CPNG%3DPLA_Health%2BBeauty%2BShopping%26adgroup%3DSC_Health%2BBeauty_Top%2520Performers%26LID%3D700000001170770pgs%26network%3Dg%26device%3Dc%26location%3D9067609%26gclid%3DEAIaIQobChMI4ITF5Inf3wIVUAOGCh0r2QbIEAQYASABEgJvN_D_BwE%26gclsrc%3Daw.ds" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Target" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Target</a>

L'Oreal Paris Youth Code Dark Spot Corrector Serum


Michelle Henry, MD, dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon at Laser & Skin Surgery Center of New York, recommends this potent niacinamide-packed serum to nix hyperpigmentation. It melts into a smooth, silky finish and leaves any skin type newly glowing after a few uses.

L'Oreal Paris Youth Code™ Dark Spot Corrector Serum, $, available at Target
<h2>Differin Dark Spot Correcting Serum <br></h2><br>Melissa K. Levin, MD, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Entière Dermatology, recommends this correcting serum for treating hyperpigmentation at home. "It should be applied to any hyperpigmented spots daily, morning or night, and should be used under sunscreen if used during the day," she says. Dr. Levin also recommends massaging the product in with a cotton swab for targeted application. <br><br><strong>Differin</strong> Differin Dark Spot Correcting Serum, 1 OZ, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cvs.com%2Fshop%2Fdifferin-dark-spot-correcting-serum-1-oz-prodid-280039" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:CVS" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">CVS</a>

Differin Dark Spot Correcting Serum


Melissa K. Levin, MD, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Entière Dermatology, recommends this correcting serum for treating hyperpigmentation at home. "It should be applied to any hyperpigmented spots daily, morning or night, and should be used under sunscreen if used during the day," she says. Dr. Levin also recommends massaging the product in with a cotton swab for targeted application.

Differin Differin Dark Spot Correcting Serum, 1 OZ, $, available at CVS

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