How to Correct Dark Spots

Dark spots. Hyperpigmentation. Sun damage. We’ve all been there. Lighteners and brighteners can help to lighten or eliminate these dark spots - so that you will look and feel confident in your skin.

Brightening Skincare Products

“Lighteners and brighteners are products designed with specific ingredients that address darkened, damaged skin cells as well as slow the mechanisms that can create these dark spots in the first place,” says Karen Fernandez, Head of Aesthetics. Some of them can take correction a step further, and actually bleach the dark spots.

They are also designed to reduce inflammation and calm the skin.

Who is a candidate?

According to Karen, lighteners and brighteners can help correct dark spots that form as a result of three different kinds of skin discoloration:

  • Sun damage - Anyone who has had a sunburn can benefit from using lighteners and brighteners in their skin routine.
  • Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH) - While often temporary issues, dark spots that form after a zit or other mark should be taken care of as soon as possible, so they don’t become deeper problems.
  • Melasma - Lightening and brightening products can also help with Melasma, a skin disorder that can lead to large patches of darkened skin. Please note, Melasma does need to be diagnosed by your physician prior to treating.

While almost anyone with uneven skin tone can benefit from using lighteners and brighteners, we recommend consulting your physician first if you are pregnant or nursing.

There is also a wide range of options available, so it’s important that you use the right one for your concerns and skin type. Someone with sensitive skin, for example, shouldn’t go on the most aggressive treatment and may want to gradually incorporate lightening and brightening products into their skincare regimen. We would be happy to offer a personalized recommendation after a free consultation with one of our experienced clinical aestheticians.

Adding lighteners and brighteners to your skincare routine


The best time to start using lighteners and brighteners is right now!

We recommend focusing on correction in the fall and winter months, when you’re not really spending time outside. That’s because corrective products are more active, and can cause the skin to be more sensitive to the sun. If you’re an avid outdoor sports person, you should still be able to use lighteners and brighteners, so long as you are wearing sunscreen daily, but we can discuss your options during your consultation.

When starting out, go slow and give the skin time to adjust and prevent hypersensitivity,” advises Karen. ‘The stronger the product, the slower you’ll want to go - as little as 1-2 times per week to start, building up each week.”

Then in the summer months, look to manage discoloration and prevent it from getting worse with an excellent quality antioxidant and SPF.

Lighteners and brighteners we love

When it comes to products that lighten the skin, different formulations are designed for day than night.

Many of our antioxidants have ingredients that also lighten and brighten, such as SkinBetter Alto or Phloretin CF; those are great to get started with, and should be used on clean, dry skin in the mornings. These are meant to keep the skin protected and calm during the day as well as minimize the melanin response to triggers like sun and heat.

Lighteners and brighteners containing Retinol, on the other hand, are generally used at night; the skin gets all the attention while you sleep, so you’ll want to use more corrective, deeper penetrating products at the end of the day. These will be the powerhouse products that really provide transformation!

Some specific lightener and brighteners we love include:

  • ZO Brightalive - considered the gold standard for treating Melasma, ZO Brightalive is a SkinSpirit favorite.
  • SkinBetter Even - while SkinBetter Even works great on its own, we often recommend it in combination with AlphaRet for those with really damaged skin.
  • FadeRX - if you’re looking for a cost effective option and your skin can tolerate it, FadeRX works great. However, it does contain a high percentage of HQ compared to other lightening and brightening products. Please visit us for a free consult to see if this is a good fit.
  • SkinMedica Lytera - This system is a great option for most skin types looking to fight hyperpigmentation. It can also be combined with retinoids for maximum correction.
  • Jan Marini Illuminate - For those looking to lighten the appearance of discoloration, along with wrinkles and fine lines, consider Illuminate.
  • SkinCeuticals Phyto+ - Delivered in a hyaluronic base, Phyto+ drops improve dark spots while soothing the skin. It's so safe, it can be used post procedure.
  • Sente Biocomplete - Containing patented HSA technology and sustained release retinol, Sente’s Biocomplete makes for a great nighttime product that also smooths and firms the skin.

These are just a few of our favorites, but there is something for everyone. Browse lighteners and brighteners on our shop site, or email to place an order for SkinBetter or ZO products.

Secret Hero: Retinoids. Retinoids not only help with tone, texture and skin tightening - but they’re also going to be the muscles behind your lightener and brightener, helping to produce even more significant results.

Insider Tip: Don’t Forget to Hydrate!

Hydrated skin is happy skin!” says Karen. “So many issues derive from skin dehydration. Make sure that you’re covering all the basics: an appropriate cleanser, good hydration, and drink water to hydrate from the inside out. The power of water is especially big for pigmentation. When skin is hydrated, it’s healthy and when it’s healthy, it’s better equipped to reproduce normally and look its best.”

Think of it this way: when you feel dehydrated, you get a headache and aren’t as focused. Skin is the same way - if it’s dehydrated, it won’t behave normally or look its healthiest.

Karen also recommends considering a growth factor to help with pigmentation. “As much as you want to scold or stop bad behavior with your skin, you also want to help encourage good behavior. And for that reason, growth factors can be really helpful - because they help perpetuate healthy cell reproduction.” Learn more about growth factors in our guide.

Shop Lighteners & Brighteners & Get Customized Skincare Advice

We’ll leave you with one last piece of advice from Karen: “If you haven’t been doing anything yet, start using something with salicylic acid or other AHA and BHAs, and you’ll see some improvement. But if you have had issues or a specific spot or area, you will want to come in for a consultation so we can make sure you’re on the right product.”

We’re ready whenever you are! Book your free consult online or give us a call at (855) 383-7546.

Ready to start shopping now? Browse lighteners and brighteners online, or email to order favorites from SkinBetter and ZO.

Recommended Treatments for Skin Discoloration

Looking to prioritize lightening and brightening the skin? We recommend these treatments in combination with your new products:

  • Facial with a peel - it’s amazing how brightening just getting an exfoliation can be! Book a Signature Skincare Treatment for a more luminous complexion.
  • Micropenning - because it focuses on rejuvenating cells, micropenning can leave your skin significantly brighter.
  • IPL - this is a great treatment for almost anyone looking to address skin discoloration and sun damage in the fall and winter months.
  • Laser resurfacing - this is your most aggressive option for treating skin discoloration. Please call (855) 383-7546 to learn more.

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