It’s a fact of life that many women over 50 (and younger women who spend lots of time in the sun!) tend to get age spots on their arms, face, hands, and shoulders. Harmless though they may be, however, we don’t have to like them. There are plenty of things we can do to help fade these pesky little marks, even out our complexions, and brighten our skin, beginning with a dark spot corrector.
Age Spot or Something Worse?
Before you pull out the beauty products, you’ll want to make sure you know what you’re dealing with. A new spot anywhere on your body can cause a fright (and it’s never a bad idea to consult your doctor when one appears), but before your inner hypochondriac takes over, be sure to check whether your mysterious spot looks like one of these three common age marks.
Cherry angiomas: Also called Campbell De Morgan spots, or senile angiomas, cherry angiomas are small red bumps that can appear anywhere on the body. These red dots are usually no bigger than a pencil eraser and appear red due to an abnormally high concentration of blood vessels.
Lentigines: You’ve probably already heard of this type of age spot by a different name — liver spots. Aka lentigo, lentigines pop up on areas of skin that are often exposed to the sun and may not have a uniform shape. They’re darkish in color and tend to increase in number as you get older.
Seborrheic keratoses: These spots are either flat or raised and may have a scaly texture like a wart. Seborrheic keratoses often appear in clusters and are dark in color.
If you’re still unsure whether you have an age spot or something more serious, refer to the A-B-C-D-Es of checking your marks for skin cancer: asymmetry (normal marks are typically symmetrical in shape), borders (irregular borders may be a sign of skin cancer), colors (lesions shouldn’t be multiple colors, and darker hues are more of a cause for concern), diameter (melanomas are typically larger than a pencil eraser), evolution (changes in size, shape, or elevation, as well as new symptoms, such as bleeding, crusting, or itching may signal skin cancer). Suspicious spots should be evaluated by a doctor as soon as possible.
How to Get Rid of Dark Spots
When it comes to making normal age spot fade, it’s a good idea to look for products that contain hydroquinone. This topical skin lightener has been used for decades to restrict the production of tyrosinase — an enzyme that plays a role in the creation of melanin. Dark spots, age spots, and hyperpigmentation (a condition in which patches of skin become darker than the skin that surrounds it) all occur as the result of an overproduction of melanin, so it make sense to limit this process.
Hydroquinone is available over the counter in 2 percent concentrations, though you can get as high as 4 percent (or greater) with a prescription. You may see results in as little as four weeks, depending on your skin, but expect to wait eight to 12 weeks to see a visible difference in your complexion.
In addition to hydroquinone, azelaic acid, glycolic acid, kojic acid, retinoids, and vitamin C are all powerful skin-brightening ingredients, according to the American Academy of Dermatologists. And, lucky for you, there’s no prescription needed to use these products.
How to Choose the Best Dark Spot Corrector
Knowing your skin type will help you find the best dark spot corrector for you. Is your skin extremely sensitive? Is your hyperpigmentation years in the making? The answers to these questions will help you navigate the confusing world of age spot creams, serums, and oils. In addition, we’ve rounded up a solid list containing the best dark spot correctors on the market to help your decision with ease. Keep scrolling to shop Woman’s World’s picks for the best dark spot correctors to fade age spots and hyperpigmentation.
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Best Dark Spot Corrector Serum
Lancôme Visionnaire Advanced Skin Corrector Serum
Where to buy: $80, Sephora
Lancôme's Visionnaire advanced skin corrector serum is a multi-tasking beauty superstar that will even skin tone, reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and minimize pores. But don't take our word for it: A clinical brand study reported that 75 percent of women saw a visible difference in their skin just after four weeks. This serum is also great for more delicate, mature skin because it's formulated without irritating ingredients, such as parabens, phthalates, and sulfates.
Wrote one Sephora shopper: "Miracle worker. When I first used this product coworkers were telling me my skin was glowing, asking if I had work done, and just how great looked. I instantly knew this product was worth the money. I love it."
Best Dark Spot Corrector Kit
Ole Henriksen Power Peel Transforming Facial System
Where to buy: $50, Sephora
Chemical peels are a common treatment for dark spots, but as anyone who's ever been to the spa knows, they can also be quite pricey. Enter: Ole Henriksen's at-home Power Peel transforming facial system. This three-part kit comes with a scrub, a facial peel, and a mask that are designed to brighten and even out your complexion for a fraction of the price of an in-office procedure. Users warn that this peel stings a bit and that your face may be red for about an hour after using, but say that the results are well worth it — especially if you have acne scars.
Wrote one: "This is the best thing ever. I had given up on finding something that would actually work on my dark spot and than I found this and it literally transformed my skin. Got rid of all my dark spots and got rid of all my skin problems and acne."
Best Cheap Dark Spot Corrector
The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution
Where to buy: $7.20, Sephora
You don't have to spend a fortune to fade your spots: The Ordinary's AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution is a budget-friendly peel, through and through. For less than $10, you'll get a mixture of star ingredients, including glycolic acid, lactic acid, and salicylic acid, all of which are known for exfoliating skin and clearing out pore congestion so that your face looks bright and fresh — an appearance users refer to as "glass skin."
Best Vitamin C Dark Spot Corrector
Cover FX's Brightening Booster Drops
Where to buy: $45, Sephora
Vitamin C is effective at fading age spots because of its ability to increase collagen production to repair damaged skin. So why not give your skin a concentrated dose of it via Cover FX's Brightening Booster drops? With added porcelain flower for hydration, this product can be worn it under or over makeup — we recommend adding a few drops to your nighttime skincare routine.
Best Dark Spot Corrector With Kojic Acid
Evagloss Lightening Serum
Where to buy: $27.90, Amazon
Evagloss' Lightening Serum is a fabulous pick not only for lightening age spots and evening out skin tones on the face, but it's also for use on sensitive areas of the body, such as the armpits. Its secret weapon is its included kojic acid, an agent produced by fungi that inhibits tyrosine, and in turn, melanin production to brighten.
Raved one reviewer: "I have some dark spots on my face that I really wanted to balance out. I was really skeptical that this would work on my dark skin, but based on the reviews decided to give it a try. I used as directed and [after] about three days, I could definitely see results. The darker areas were lighter and not as noticeable as before. It was light on my skin, easy to wear under makeup without being greasy or heavy."
Best Dark Spot Corrector With Glycolic Acid
Alpha H Liquid Gold
Where to buy: $60, Sephora
Alpha-H's Liquid Gold lives up to its name by delivering a host of nourishing ingredients to your skin while you sleep. Its 5 percent concentration of glycolic acid will speeds up your body's skin renewal process to bring newer, brighter skin cells to the surface. Licorice extract is another excellent add-in, thanks to its ability to correct uneven skin tones and soothe inflamed skin.
Best Proactiv Dark Spot Corrector
Proactiv Advanced Dark Spot Correcting Serum
Where to buy: $50, Sephora
You may know of Proactiv through its acne-fighting line, but the brand's Advanced Dark Spot Correcting Serum is nothing to sniff at. Hydroquinone, sea buckthorn berry oil, and citric acid are the stars of the show here, and work in tandem to erase the hyperpigmentation caused by acne scars and sun damage while simultaneously soothing skin.
Best Dark Spot Corrector on Amazon
Admire My Skin Ultra-Potent Brightening Serum
Where to buy: $23 (Originally $39.95), Amazon
Admire My Skin's Ultra Potent Brightening Serum is a cocktail of all the best skin-lightening ingredients, from hydroquinone and kojic acid to lactic acid, and vitamin C. A word of caution, however: This product will actually make your dark spots appear darker before the scab that forms falls off to reveal brighter, more even skin underneath.
"About a year ago I got horrible melasma [a common skin condition that causes brown patches to appear on the face] on my upper lip. It was so dark that everyone kept saying that I had dirt on my face. I was embarrassed and would not leave the house without trying to cover it up ... even the top of the line makeup products would not cover it. ... I came across this product and thought why not, I'll try it. Thank god I did!! In just one night, I noticed how my dark spots were already fading. After a week, you can barely even notice that I had such dark spots on my lip."
Best SkinCeuticals Dark Spot Corrector
SkinCeuticals Discoloration Defense
Where to buy: $98, Dermstore
SkinCeuticals first won us over with its much-lauded C E Ferulic serum, but its Discoloration Defense is every bit as praise-worthy: 60 percent of women studied in a brand clinical trial watched their stubborn brown patches fade thanks to its 3 percent tranexamic acid (a powerful skin brightener), 1 percent kojic acid, 5 percent niacinamide (the purest form of vitamin C), and 5 percent HEPES (a synthetic acid that breaks the bonds holding dead skin cells together).
"The product has helped a lot with my discoloration and melasma," wrote one reviewer, with another confirming, "This product really works with hyperpigmentation."
Best Dark Spot Corrector Pads
Touch 20% Glycolic Acid Pads
Where to buy: $24.95, Amazon
If you don't want to deal with creams and serums, give these glycolic acid pads a go. They'll chemically exfoliate your skin reveal a brighter, clearer complexion beneath. Made with calming chamomile, green tea, and cucumber extracts, they'll also fight signs of aging, such as dark spots and wrinkles — all without irritating your face.