Regardless of how they got there, dark spots on your skin can be tricky to get rid of. Luckily, there are plenty of over-the-counter products that can help fade those pesky marks over time — as long as you know exactly what to look for.
Luckily, there are some damn good dark spot correctors you can find OTC. Here are 7 approved picks:
1. Cerave Resurfacing Retinol Serum | N 12,750
“This is a great over-the-counter brightening serum,” says Marchbein, who says the CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum’s ingredients fight more than just hyperpigmentation. “Niacinamide is a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant vitamin B3 derivative that has been scientifically shown to help with redness and discoloration in the skin.
“Its licorice root also has antioxidant and brightening properties, and as the name suggests, it also contains an encapsulated retinol. That means its slow release makes it more tolerable.
2. Ambi Fade Cream For Oily Skin | N 5,700
Hydroquinone is the gold standard for lightening dark spots, says Dr. Levin-and it’s the star ingredient in this brightening cream. This formula contains two percent of the active ingredient, which is likely the highest concentration you will find available OTC.
3. The Ordinary Glycolic 7% Toning Solution | N 6,500
Glycolic Acid is an alpha hydroxy acid that exfoliates the skin. This 7% toning solution offers mild exfoliation for improved skin radiance and visible clarity. The formula also improves the appearance of skin texture with continued use.
This formula contains a studied Tasmanian Pepperberry derivative to help reduce irritation associated with acid use. This derivative is of plant origin and may be apparent in the formula from time to time. The formula is further supported with inclusion of ginseng root and aloe vera for both visible radiance and soothing benefits.
Use ideally in the PM, no more frequently than once per day. After cleaning, saturate a cotton pad with the formula and sweep across face and neck. Avoid the eye contour and contact with eyes. Do not rinse off.
4. CeraVe Skin Renewing Vitamin C Serum | N 11,000
It this vitamin C-packed list is starting to sound like a broken record, it’s because this hard-hitting antioxidant is an all-star skin brightener, and this drugstore serum is no exception. It also contains hydrating hyaluronic acid and nourishing ceramides, so you don’t need to choose between an even skin tone and a moisturized complexion.
5. Differin Adapalene Gel 0.1% Acne Treatment | N 12,199
Derms love this stuff for fighting acne and signs of aging. Now, you can add dark-spot correcting to that list. This gel contains adapalene, a super-effective type of retinoid. Retinoids are key in terms of exfoliating the skin and treating discoloration, says Dr. Levin.
6. IS Clinical White Lightening Complex | N 80,700
This product, recommended by Dr. Tanzi, relies on Norwegian kelp and bearberry extract to lighten spots. Hydrating hyaluronic acid and dimethicone plump fine lines, making this product great for treating multiple signs of aging. Because acne can cause dark spots, too, you will also get blemish-fighting salicylic acid in the mix.
7. Clarins Double Serum Complete Age Control Concentrate
This cult anti-aging serum will help smooth out fine lines and wrinkles while lightening up dark spots thanks to one star ingredient: turmeric. Turmeric is a spice commonly used in South Asian cooking that’s been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits, making it a useful ingredient in brightening the skin, says Dr. Zeichner.