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Dark Spots On Face

What are the different types of dark spots and 5 best ingredients to treat them?

Does skin discoloration or different types of dark spots on face bother you? You are not alone, in fact, around 1.5% to 33% of people have brown patches on their faces.

We try and test multiple products, just to get rid of these spots and end up making them worse in the long run. You ought to know that- the quest for clear and beautiful skin begins with what works for your ‘type of dark spot’ and knowing your skin type.

Yes, you heard it right! Not all dark spots are the same!

Understanding what causes dark spots on the face and knowing about various types of dark spots can serve beneficial for fading away these dark blotches. Thereafter, I have also discussed some of the most potent skincare ingredients which can be deemed effective as a dark spot treatment.

Let’s keep the ball rolling…

The most common dark spots on the face are:

Sun Spots or Age Spots

Sun Spots

Sunspots, solar lentigines, age spots or liver spots, are commonly used terms that are interchangeably used when we talk about ‘sun-damaged skin’.

They occur as a result of overexposure to sunlight and mostly worsen during the summers. Also, you are more likely to get sunspots if you have a past of getting really bad sunburns. Sunspots are more prominent with age, hence they are also called age spots.

The damaging UV rays can bring about a single spot or many spots clumped together, which may look like a patch on the skin.

Melasma or Chloasma


Melasma is commonly observed skin discoloration in the reproductive years. It is presented as brown to grey-brown spots or patches on the face. Hormones are a known trigger of Melasma along with UV or sun exposure. Increased hormones (estrogen and progesterone) during pregnancy can instigate hyperpigmentation, hence called the ‘mask of pregnancy.’

The good news is- these patches slowly wane with time. But some women might need expert help or visit a board certified dermatologist for a thorough solution to getting rid of them.

‘Melasma is present in 15% - 50% of pregnant females.’ Women are more affected (nine times!) than men. Also, people with darker skin tones are more prone to developing melasma.

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation or PIH

Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation

Acne marks or scars, and blemishes are the unpleasing aftermaths of inflamed, red acne bumps or breakouts. Inflammatory skin conditions, like acne (topping the charts), burns, injury to the skin, certain aesthetic procedures like chemical peels, lasers, etc. (when improperly administered) can leave behind pesky pinkish to red to light or dark brown blotches on the skin called PIH. The color of the spots is determined by skin tone and can vary in size. Typically, they fade on their own but sometimes it may take months or longer than usual.

Treatments are aimed at understanding the underlying cause of acne or PIH. And, protecting the spotted areas from ultraviolet (UV) light with a broad spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or more to prevent them from getting more dark and permanent.

How to remove dark spots on face?

Dark spots are harmless but they can make you look way older than your age. While it may be an uphill battle to choose from plenty of dark spot removers, such as OTC spot removal creams, gels, soap, cleansers, and face serums, knowing about specific skincare ingredients for the same can make it a lot easier.

Cleansers or face washes helps to buff-away or exfoliate the dead skin cells while creams or gels can be used as spot treatments to help vanish dark patches or spots. It is as simple as it sounds. What makes it complex is the actives or ingredients mentioned on the products, which confuse us.

There are many skincare ingredients, like tranexamic acid, azelaic acid, etc. But, after thorough research, I have narrowed down my top 5 picks for gentle and effective ingredients or actives. You can start incorporating these into your skincare routine to get rid of dark spots for good!

1) Niacinamide

Niacinamide Serum

Also, Vitamin B3 and Niacin have extraordinary skincare benefits- maintain skin integrity, help in even skin tone, and make the skin brighter, supple and young. Topical niacinamide benefits in reducing pigmentary disorders- dark spots and hyperpigmentation by decreasing the production of melanin pigment (responsible for the color of skin and hair). Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, it has amazing results for acne and acne marks.

‘Niacinamide serum reduces spot area after 4 weeks’ of use.'

Click to read more about- 10 Extraordinary Niacinamide Benefits & Uses for Skin

2) Alpha arbutin

Alpha Arbutin

This miracle skin brightener and dark spot remover is gentle enough for sensitive skin. Cranberry, mulberry or bearberries are naturally rich in arbutin which helps to dramatically fade hyper-pigmented spots, sun spots or acne scars for glowing and even skin. Compared to hydroquinone, it does not irritate the skin, thus making it more tolerable.

‘Alpha-arbutin inhibits the tyrosinase enzyme (main enzyme for melanin synthesis) 10 times as strongly as β-arbutin to reduce facial hyperpigmentation.’

2) Vitamin C

Vitamin C

This antioxidant wonder has been around for a while and why not! It does its job well in protection from free radical damage and has several other benefits for beautiful you. It never fails to impress, given its many benefits- from collagen-boosting abilities for soft and supple skin (anti-ageing) to fading hyperpigmentation for radiant-looking skin.

‘The topical use of 15% L‐ascorbic acid plus alpha‐tocopherol has been shown to provide significant protection against sunburns.’

4) Glutathione


Another master antioxidant is- Glutathione, which combats oxidative stress to support healthy skin barrier and boost immunity. Being a potent brightening superhero, it also fades existing dark spots, blemishes and scars as a result of different skin concerns, making the skin radiant and youthful.

‘As per a study, oral Glutathione reduced the number of UV spots on the face after just 4 weeks of intake.'

5) Kojic Acid

Kojic Acid

Kojic acid is an extensively used antioxidant to fade hyperpigmentation, sun damage, sun spots, and melasma, and reduce the appearance of wrinkles. It is made from fermented rice or mushrooms and gives you a youthful glow due to its action of blocking melanin, working on visible sun damage and brightening the skin.

‘Kojic acid has been shown to be effective for hyperpigmentary conditions- melasma, PIH, age spots and freckles'

So, next time, when you spot those hideous dark spots on the face, don’t feel powerless, instead treat them in the best possible way, with the most potent ingredients or dark spot correctors. Your task- look for the actives mentioned on the product packs and see which works for your dark spots. Start with the lowest of the concentrations and do not skip sunscreen for sun protection at when heading out.

There is nothing better than a personalized approach to tackle your skin pigmentation/ dark spots or any other skin concern!

Get those Spots-off and Shine-on!!!


Q. How to remove dark spots caused by pimples?

Ans. The use of different products like serums, gel, and creams that are effective for fading dark spots. One effective skincare ingredient for acne spots and scars is Niacinamide which helps to reduce hyper-pigmented spots for more even-toned and healthy-looking skin. For more effective tips for remove dark spots caused by pimples, click here.

Q. What causes the dark spots on face?

Ans. Overexposure to Ultraviolet (UV) light and hormonal fluctuations are the primary reasons for having dark spots on the face.

Q. Do dark spots go away or fade?

Ans. After understanding the principle cause and using effective treatments; a spot, usually a few shades darker than your skin color can disappear in about 6-12 months.

Q. What is hyperpigmentation?

Ans. Hyperpigmentation is a term used to denote darker patches in the skin due to excess production of melanin (the pigment responsible for skin color).

Q. Can lemon remove dark spots?

Ans. Lemon is abundant in Vitamin C, which is well-known to brighten the skin tone and fade dark spots. Remember, using lemon juice as such can have side effects like skin irritations, dryness, hence it is mixed with other ingredients (as used in home remedies) or used in lower concentrations for youthful and radiant skin.

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