Get Rid of Dark Spots with These Tried and True Treatments

Whatever has caused your dark spots, there is an array of ways to reduce their appearance — be it a slight change in your lifestyle, a new product in your skincare routine, or in-office treatments. Just abide by the steps below, and dark spots will become just a bad memory.

Gone are days when you were a sun worshipper or in a constant battle with acne — been there, done that. It’s all over now, but let me guess: these days left something behind that now you’re trying to fight with all your might: dark spots. Although they’re harmless, dark spots can be really frustrating since they make it impossible to maintain a perfectly even tone, which is the most sought-after trait for most of us. 

Rest assured, as this post gives you all the answers on how to get rid of dark spots and promote an even-looking complexion.

What causes dark spots?

Dark spots are forms of hyperpigmentation, a condition that appears when your skin is overproducing melanin (the pigment that darkens skin). The causes of dark spots include excessive sun exposure, scarring, post-acne marks, aging, and hormonal changes from menopause or pregnancy.[1]

How to get rid of dark spots

Since they’re mostly a matter of excess melanin, to completely get rid of dark spots (once forever), you need to use treatments that work at deeper levels to reduce the pigment content in cells. The good news is that there are plenty of ingredients and cosmetic procedures to help you fade dark spots, which takes us to the next part:


The quest to get rid of dark spots begins with the application of antioxidants. You know how sun exposure causes an increase in free radicals, which in turn damages the skin structure resulting in an increase in melanin (aka dark spots), wrinkles, and loss of firmness. Well, antioxidants have a mitigating effect on dark spots as they offset free radicals so the skin won’t have to produce melanin to defend itself.[2]

Although they work best to prevent discoloration in the first place, some antioxidants like vitamin Cresveratrol, and green tea polyphenols have brightening effects that can reduce dark spots with daily use.[3] For the curious: they do that by regulating melanin production. So if you’re dealing with stubborn dark spots, you better add a vitamin C serum for hyperpigmentation to your routine as it’ll get you closer to an even tone.


Another tried-and-true treatment for dark spots is retinol — a vitamin A derivative with antioxidant benefits. Now here’s the gist: thanks to its ability to promote cell turnover, retinol removes old cells that have accumulated excess pigment and brings the new, brighter ones to the surface, resulting in less discoloration. Besides, retinol helps fade dark spots by hindering the activity of melanin-producing cells (melanocytes). According to research, it can diminish hyperpigmentation by 60% and contribute to a proper distribution of pigment in the skin.[4] To reap the most benefits, use your retinol serum at least once every two days.


Weekly exfoliation is another way that never fails to banish dark spots. That’s because it slough off the buildup of discolored cells, which makes the newly formed skin evenly pigmented. For the best results, use chemical exfoliants like lactic and glycolic acids as they work on the surface level to loosen the bond between cells, revealing fresh, even skin. Besides, they both interfere with melanin production, delivering brightening effects when used in the long run.[5] So you can count on glycolic acid serums and lactic acid peels to give your skin a boost of radiance.

Cosmetic procedures for dark spots

If none of the above worked for you, or dramatic results are what you’re after, in-office treatment can be your best bet. Cosmetic procedures like laser treatments, chemical peels, cryotherapy, dermabrasion, or IPL might be what you need. They work amazingly for more severe conditions, and the results can be seen after the first session — once the skin is recovered. Just make sure you put yourself in the hands of a professional with experience in such treatments.

How to prevent dark spots

Preventions always come first, and for dark spots, it begins with daily sunscreen. Having your skin shielded against UV damage is life-changing as you cut one of the major culprits that causes discoloration. So always use an SPF 50 sunscreen with UVA and UVB protection every time you go out — that’ll help keep dark spots away for good. Besides, you should eat antioxidant-rich foods, wear sun-protective clothing, and limit sun exposure.

Ingredients that can diminish dark spots

For maximum benefits, it’s good to know about these major brightening ingredients — the big players in the league — and include them in your skincare routine and diet. While most work well topically, others do their magic when taken orally, so keep an eye on supplements too.

Are natural treatments effective for dark spots?

Dark spots aren’t really something that can be treated with natural remedies, but depending on how deep they are, their appearance can be reduced without chemicals and expensive procedures. That said, a cotton ball soaked in milk may slightly lighten dark patches, same as apple cider vinegar, but you still shouldn’t expect too much from either of them.

Instead, to fight dark spots naturally, just use botanical and naturally-occurring ingredients in your skincare routine. Plenty of them has been researched and found effective for fading hyperpigmentation, including mulberry, licorice, arbutin, green tea, and turmeric.[6]

Final words

It’s true that some dark spots, like those left by acne, can fade on their own through the natural skin’s exfoliation process which takes place every 28 days, though it takes time. But to get rid of deeper dark spots, you should stick to a diligent skincare routine, use brightening ingredients and products, wear daily SPF, exfoliate twice weekly, and even perform a cosmetic procedure if necessary.

Read next: Uneven Skin Tone? Here’s How You Fix It


  1. Vashi NA, Kundu RV. Facial hyperpigmentation: causes and treatment. Br J Dermatol. 2013 Oct;169 Suppl 3:41-56. doi: 10.1111/bjd.12536. PMID: 24098900.
  2. Nahhas, AF, Abdel-Malek, ZA, Kohli, I, Braunberger, TL, Lim, HW, Hamzavi, IH. The potential role of antioxidants in mitigating skin hyperpigmentation resulting from ultraviolet and visible light-induced oxidative stress. Photodermatol Photoimmunol Photomed. 2019; 35: 420– 428.
  3. D’Angelo Costa, GM, Maia Campos, PMBG. Efficacy of topical antioxidants in the skin hyperpigmentation control: A clinical study by reflectance confocal microscopy. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2021; 20: 538– 545.
  4. Zasada M, Budzisz E. Retinoids: active molecules influencing skin structure formation in cosmetic and dermatological treatmentsPostepy Dermatol Alergol. 2019;36(4):392-397. doi:10.5114/ada.2019.87443
  5. Usuki A, Ohashi A, Sato H, Ochiai Y, Ichihashi M, Funasaka Y. The inhibitory effect of glycolic acid and lactic acid on melanin synthesis in melanoma cells. Exp Dermatol. 2003;12 Suppl 2:43-50. doi: 10.1034/j.1600-0625.12.s2.7.x. PMID: 14756523.
  6. Hollinger JC, Angra K, Halder RM. Are Natural Ingredients Effective in the Management of Hyperpigmentation? A Systematic Review. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2018;11(2):28-37.

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