How To Even Out Your Skin Tone Once & For All

One of the most common skincare woes we hear from both readers and friends is an uneven skin tone — more specifically, those dark stains left over from acne. To make matters worse, they are seriously difficult to get rid of (and challenging to conceal) once you've got them.
Enter the dark spot corrector. If you don't already have one in your skincare regime, it's time. There are plenty of over-the-counter options out there, but it's important to know what kind of formula to look for and how to use it properly. Dermatologist Sejal Shah, MD says you can look for kojic acid, liquorice root extract, vitamin C, niacinamide, soy, and retinoids when battling dark spots. Jessica Weiser, MD, of New York Dermatology Group, suggests formulas with turmeric, lactic acid, and papaya for their skin-brightening properties.
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Once you've made your selection, there are some things to be cautious of: "The most common issue with many lightening agents is that they can irritate the skin, leading to redness, flaking, dryness, or even itchy or burning sensations," Dr. Shah says. Women with darker skin tones need to take extra care. "Whether citric, lactic, or glycolic, using acid on dark skin tones should be done with caution, as excess peeling of the skin can conversely lead to hyper-pigmentation, or can cause burns that may lead to lightening or darkening of the skin," Dr. Weiser says.
Both doctors agree that before starting any regimen to treat hyperpigmentation, it's important to discuss with your dermatologist what course is right for you. Dr. Shah also stresses the importance of using sun protection in conjunction with your dark-spot treatment, as the active ingredients can make your skin more vulnerable to UV rays.
With all this in mind, we've rounded up a handful of dark spot correctors and broken them down by the number of brightening ingredients they contain — some utilise just one, the others comprise a few. Click through to find the product that's right for you, consult with your derm, and you'll be kissing those dark spots goodbye in no time.
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This lightweight night serum contains alpha hydroxy acids to gently exfoliate your skin while you sleep.
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This little bottle contains activated vitamin C to clarify your skin and help to prevent future dark spots. Plus, it's 100% fragrance-free, making it ideal for those with sensitive skin. Win-win.
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This lightweight serum uses retinol, vitamin E, and a cocktail of antioxidants to diminish dark spots and to fight free radical damage, which could lead to pigmentation.
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The active ingredient in this serum is rosa roxburghii, an extract from the chestnut rose, which is a good source of antioxidants to protect from environmental aggressors. The serum helps to reduce dark spots, as well as correct and balance the skin tone.

Dr. Andrew Weil for Origins Mega-Bright Correcting Serum, £56, available at Look Fantastic.
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While Peter Thomas Roth's brightener uses a bunch of ingredients, niacinamide is the main active. It's also recommended by some of the UK's top dermatologists for treating active acne, as it normalises pores and regulates oil production.

Peter Thomas Roth De-Spot Skin Brightening Corrector, £60, available at Look Fantastic.
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Clarins' formula relies on acerola extract, which is high in vitamin C, making it a potent dark spot corrector.

Clarins 'Mission Perfection' Serum, £54, available at Clarins.
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Like most of its products, Caudalie Premiere Cru contains resveratrol, a powerful antioxidant which shields skin from further pigmentation.
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Serums aren't the only way to rid yourself of dark spots. This overnight mask works while you sleep, so you wake up looking radiant.

Fresh Peony Brightening Night Treatment Mask, £72, available at John Lewis.
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The vitamin C in the formula promotes surface cell turnover, uncovering brighter, more even-toned skin.

Garnier SkinActive Brightening Moisturisers, £2.89, available at Superdrug.
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With peony root extract as the main active ingredient, this brightening essence from Fresh is great for anyone who prefers their skin care rooted in botanicals. Bonus? It also locks in moisture thanks to a hint of hyaluronic acid.
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Looking for something that skews natural? This new formula from Aveda calls upon liquorice root and molasses extracts for a lit-from-within glow.
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Mela-D utilises glycolic and kojic acids to diminish those dark spots. Bonus: Glycolic acid fights acne by exfoliating the surface of the skin and unclogging pores, so you're busting up those spots before they even start.
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Ascorbyl glucoside is a stabilised form of vitamin C, and it's the cornerstone of Clinique's Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector — a cult-favourite when it comes to brightening products. Add salicylic acid, and you've got a potent cocktail to fade your dark spots.
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We all know how amazing retinol is for dark spots, but Verso's Dark Spot Fix also contains niacinamide. According to Dr. Shah, niacinamide is one of the best ingredients you can slather on to help with hyperpigmentation.

Verso Dark Spot Fix, £140, available at Look Fantastic
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While it's important to remember who is doing the testing, when a brand presents a clinical trial this successful, there's no doubt that something is working. Estee lauder found that 77% of women saw a reduction in the look of dark spots in four weeks.

Estée Lauder Enlighten Dark Spot Correcting Night Serum, £55, available at Estée Lauder.
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Colbert MD's serum comes highly recommended thanks to a mix of skin-brightening glycolic acid, antioxidants, and gotu kola, an herb with anti-inflammatory benefits.
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Celebrity aesthetician Su-Man Hsu's brightening serum is praised for its silky texture and it gets its power from a cocktail of ingredients like hyaluronic acid for hydration, unsung hero tranexamic acid, which fades dark spots, and dragon's-blood extract. It may sound like something from a fantasy novel, but it's actually a sap said to have anti-ageing properties. Win.

Su-Man Skincare Velvet Skin Brightening Serum, £90, available at Cult Beauty
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Vitamin C three ways? Look no further. Dermatologist Dr. Brandt's serum contains two different vitamin C cocktails to brighten skin, as well as Kakadu plum, a third, natural source of the antioxidant.

Dr. Brandt Skincare Power Dose Vitamin C, £47.50, available at Beauty Bay.
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