How to Get Rid of Melasma and Dark Spots: 24 Products You Need to Know About
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If you’re struggling with dark spots on your face that never seem to go away, then you’ll want to check out this list of highly-rated products to target your dark spots and help you get rid of melasma.
When it comes to getting rid of melasma, dark spots, or post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, there are hundreds of products available claiming that they will help. But which ones actually work? We combed through thousands of customer ratings and reviews to bring you the ultimate list of products that have helped the most amount of people get rid of this frustrating skin condition so you can have your confidence back.
This article is about the causes of melisma, dark spots, and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and includes a roundup of melasma treatment products that are known to target these skin conditions to get rid of melasma. It is not intended as medical advice. Always talk with your dermatologist if you have questions or concerns about skin care and treatment.
Table of Contents
The Best Products for Getting Rid of Melasma and Hyperpigmentation:
- Best Sunscreens
- Best Retinoid Products
- Best Azelaic Acid Products
- Best Tranexamic Acid Products
- Best Niacinamide Products
- Best Vitamin C Serums
- Best Blue Light Blocking Products
- Best Wide-Brimmed Hats
The 24 Best Products For Getting Rid of Melasma and Hyperpigmentation
Best Sunscreens to Prevent Melasma
Your first step when trying to get rid of melasma and hyperpigmentation is to prevent it from getting worse. Even a small amount of sun exposure can make your dark spots more noticeable, which is why you should wear sunscreen every time you step outside… but not just any sunscreen. The three things you need in a sunscreen to protect your melasma from worsening are: a physical sunscreen that’s zinc-oxide or titanium-based, broad-spectrum with UVA and UVB coverage, and at least SPF 30 or higher.
1. Elta MD Broad Spectrum SPF 44
This broad-spectrum physical sunscreen will protect your skin from harmful UVA and UVB rays, which will keep your melasma and dark spots from getting worse due to sun exposure, and will help your melasma treatment be more effective. This is a tinted formula that’s designed for daily use and has a hydrating base that helps maintain moisture balance for all skin types.
2. Supergoop! Mineral Sheerscreen Sunscreen SPF 30
This 100% mineral daily SPF 30 sunscreen is designed to be super-sheer and feel barely-there, and can double as a primer under makeup. It also helps block blue light. This product is vegan, gluten free, and cruelty free.
3. La Roche-Posay Anthelios Mineral Tinted Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid SPF 50
This broad-spectrum SPF 50 sunscreen is 100% mineral, features a light tint, and is ideal for all skin types. The powerful antioxidant complex helps protect skin from harmful free radicals. Another good thing is that while you’re trying to get rid of your melasma, this tinted formula can help mask your uneven skin tone.
Best Retinoid Products
Retinol is a vitamin A derivative that speeds up cell turnover rate and can minimize the appearance of hyperpigmentation. Always use sunscreen when using retinol because it can increase photosensitivity. Retinoids are also available as a prescription from your dermatologist. These are the top-rated retinol products to help you treat melasma and hyperpigmentation:
4. SkinCeuticals Retinol 0.5 Refining Night Cream
This retinol night cream reduces the appearance of dark spots, discoloration, blemishes, fine lines, and wrinkles by promoting cell turnover. It also contains botanical extracts that can soothe the skin and help reduce inflammation.
5. Paula’s Choice CLINICAL 1% Retinol Treatment
This 1% retinol treatment contains a potent blend of four skin-supportive peptides to address visible signs of aging like wrinkles, large pores, and discoloration over time. It also contains vitamin C to help skin look and feel more youthful. Due to its strength it is recommended to limit initial use to three times per week, gradually increasing frequency to every other night, and then to each evening as tolerated.
6. Peter Thomas Roth PRO Strength Vitamin A/C/E Retinoid Treatment
This retinoid treatment contains granactive retinoid vitamin A 10%, cosmin C, and vitamin E, which together targets targets fine lines, wrinkles, and uneven tone. This product also says it helps with the skincare concerns of dark spots and dullness. Reviewers consistently mention that their skin tone has become more even after using this product, and some reviewers have specifically said that their dark spots are less noticeable.
Best Azelaic Acid Products
Azelaic Acid can inhibit the energy production and/or DNA synthesis of melanin-forming cells, which is why it can have a beneficial effect on melasma and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Here are some top-rated azelaic acid products to help treat and get rid of melasma and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation:
7. Naturium Azelaic Topical Acid 10%
Naturium states that their topical acid formula helps unclog pores and balance excess sebum to minimize skin imperfections and even skin texture for smoother, more radiant skin. This product is also formulated with a high concentration of glycinated azelaic acid, along with niacinamide, vitamin C and coffee seed extract, which minimizes a variety of skin imperfections, including discoloration. Many reviewers said that they have seen a difference in their dark spots within 2 weeks to 1 month of use. Some reviewers are not a fan of the smell, so you can decide if the potential results are worth it for you.
8. PCA Skin Pigment Gel HQ Free
This gel “diminishes age spots and discoloration for a radiant complexion” and will diminish hyperpigmentation while refining and smoothing the skin. Additionally, it contains ingredients that “inhibit melanin production to prevent new dark spots from forming.” It contains 2% tranexamic acid which “helps to reduce hyperpigmentation and dark spots,” acai berry extract which aids in anti-aging and promoting even skin tone, and Vitamin C to help with repairing damaged skin cells.
9. Paula’s Choice BOOST 10% Azelaic Acid Booster Cream Gel
This top-rated azelaic acid treatment is described as a “highly effective serum booster.” Azelaic acid is “known to reduce the look of blemishes and acne, while also helping to fade brown spots and marks from previous acne breakouts.” You can either use this product alone, or add a few drops to your moisturizer in the mornings and evenings. This product also contains salicylic acid to smooth skin texture and help with redness, and licorice root to calm redness and sensitivity. Reviewers are happy with the effectiveness of this product, how nicely it applies compared to some other azelaic acid products, and have seen results with reducing their dark spots, though some wish it was a little more affordable.
Best Tranexamic Acid Products
When working to get rid of melasma, another product to consider is Tranexamic acid because it counteracts dark patches on the skin by helping to inhibit the transfer of pigment to the top layer of the skin. These are the top-rated tranexamic acid products to treat melasma and dark spots:
10. The Inkey List Tranexamic Acid Hyperpigmentation Treatment
An affordable formula that targets hyperpigmentation, uneven patches, and dark spots, visibly brightens the complexion, and says it will leave you with a more even-looking skin tone.
11. Dearskin Tranexamic Acid Serum 5%
This top-rated serum says it effectively removes dark spots with a “60% average reduction with visible results after 4 weeks of regular daily use, full results after 12 weeks.” It is said to work best if you use it both morning and night with your skincare routine. It has 5% tranexamic acid along with other ingredients known to fight dark spots, like Niacinamide and Vitamin C, plus Kojic Acid, Glycolic Acid, Botanical Hyaluronic Acid, Jojoba Oil, Licorice Extract, Vitamin E, and more. Reviewers say it has helped dark spots, melasma and hyperpigmentation get noticeably lighter.
12. Good Molecules Discoloration Correcting Serum
This serum is “formulated with an advanced form of tranexamic acid to visibly improve the appearance of dark spots, acne scars, melasma, and sun damage.” In addition to tranexamic acid, it also contains another dark spot-fighting ingredient, 4% Niacinamide – which works to improve the appearance of uneven skin tone and texture, dullness, and enlarged pores. Application is easy — you apply a few drops in the morning and night before applying moisturizers. Some reviewers with sensitive skin said this product caused some breakouts, though many more reviewers have said how effective this product is for dark spot and melasma treatment.
Best Niacinamide Products to Get Rid of Melasma
Niacinamide (Vitamin B3) is known to reduce the appearance of skin blemishes while visibly brightening skin tone. Research has shown that niacinamide can be helpful in lightening dark spots and fading skin discolorations.
13. IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Dark Spots 4% Niacinamide Serum
This dermatologist-tested “dark spot corrector facial serum” says it will “visibly reduce dark spots” along with “age spots, melasma, and other discolorations for more even-looking skin.” It’s a gentle hyperpigmentation serum that’s suitable for sensitive skin and all skin types.
14. The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%
This inexpensive high-strength vitamin-and-mineral formula also helps with regulating sebum and congestion. It’s a water-based formula and can help with enlarged pores, visible shine, and textural irregularities. Since this product has a higher level of Niacinamide, at 10%, some reviewers with sensitive skin were more sensitive to this product.
15. SkinCeuticals Discoloration Defense
This product contains 5% Niacinamide (Vitamin B3) which “has been shown to help reduce the appearance of skin discoloration.” It also contains 3% tranexamic acid, and says it can minimize stubborn brown patches with continued use.
Best Vitamin C Serums
Vitamin C inhibits melanin synthesis and is widely used in dermatology as a treatment for depigmentation of hyperpigmented spots on the skin, which will help get rid of melasma. Here are highly-rated Vitamin C serums for melasma treatment:
16. Herbivore Nova 15% Vitamin C + Turmeric Brightening Serum
Nova is a brightening serum that visibly improves dark spots and evens skin tone. In addition to THD vitamin C, which is a highly efficient version of vitamin C, it includes “antioxidant-rich turmeric and a powerful blend of super fruits to brighten the look of dark spots and visibly improve hyperpigmentation.” Some reviewers have noted that they can smell the turmeric, which may or may not be bothersome to some people, although the benefits of lightening dark spots may outweigh the smell.
17. Kiehl’s Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Corrector
This serum is formulated with Activated C, a stabilized form of Vitamin C that “helps to address uneven skin tone and hyperpigmentation, simultaneously improving visible brightness and fading dark spots to visibly diminish dullness.” Based on a clinical study, it’s “clinically proven to reduce hyperpigmentation by -49%, dark spots by -39% and post-acne marks by 27%.”
18. SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic
While this product doesn’t specifically mention melasma or post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, it’s highly rated with over 4300 reviews. One reviewer wrote, “discoloration left over from pregnancy has significantly faded and post-acne marks are gone.” The formula claims that it “improves signs of aging and photodamage.”
Best Blue Light Blocking Products for Preventing Melasma
Yes, your electronic devices can be making your melasma worse. If you’re working in front of a computer all day and then scrolling your phone all evening while sitting in front of the television, you aren’t doing your skin any favors. Luckily there are products out there specifically designed to protect your skin from the harsh blue light coming from your devices.
19. Ilia Blue Light Face Mist
This multifunctional mist not only helps protect your skin from blue light, but also hydrates skin and balances surface oil. It contains hydrolyzed algae and marine actives for protection functions.
20. BareMinerals Complexion Rescue Defense Radiant Protective Veil
This lotion “protects against the damaging effects of blue light” and also protects against outdoor light damage with SPF 30. Additionally, it “helps block pollution particles.”
21. Item Beauty Screen Break Blue Light + Anti Pollution Protection Mist
This hydrating formula is “clinically shown to protect skin from artificial HEV blue light and daily pollution.” Just close your eyes and spray it on your face, and repeat as needed. Reviewers say it feels refreshing and hydrating, and they enjoy using it throughout the day while sitting in front of the computer as a pick-me-up.
Best Wide-Brimmed Hats for Preventing Melasma
As you know by now, sun exposure can make melasma worse and make it harder for any products to reduce hyperpigmentation. In addition to one of the great sunscreens from the list above to help prevent melasma from getting worse, you’ll also want to double your sun protection by wearing a wide-brimmed hat. Keeping the sun off of your skin is very important in order to get rid of melasma. Here are some great options for a wide-brimmed hat:
22. Women’s Wide Brim Sun Hat with Wind Lanyard UPF50
This UPF50 protective hat is made from tightly-woven recycled paper and features a lanyard to keep it from blowing away in the wind. This hat is easily packable and foldable, making it a great option for throwing into your beach bag or your carry-on bag when traveling. It comes in many colors and numerous sizes.
23. Women’s Wide Brim Straw Panama Roll up Sun Hat UPF50+
This women’s hat has a 2.9-inch brim to protect your face from the sun, and the size of the hat is adjustable on the inside. The hat is lightweight and flexible and will be easy to pack in a beach bag or carry-on bag for travel.
24. Women’s Beach Sun Straw Hat UV UPF50
This wide-brimmed women’s hat offers UPF50 protection from the sun. It’s foldable and packable, which makes it super easy to throw into your beach bag or your carry-on bag when traveling. The hat is made from high-quality paper straw and comes in three sizes and numerous colors. A hat like this will help you get rid of melasma by keeping it from getting worse so your skincare products can reduce your hyperpigmentation.
Understanding Dark Spots
First of all… what is the difference between melasma, dark spots, and hyperpigmentation?
Melasma is the development of dark patches on the skin. It can appear as brown or blue-gray in color, which is an overproduction of melanin in certain cells, resulting in hyperpigmentation. These dark patches are most commonly found on the forehead, nose, upper lip, and cheeks. Melasma can also be referred to as dark spots, and both are a form of hyperpigmentation.
Another form of hyperpigmentation is post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH), which happens when your skin makes extra melanin after being injured or irritated, such as from acne.
The good news is that the top-rated products listed above can reduce the appearance of melasma, dark spots, and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, so no matter which you’re looking to get rid of, you should find the products above to be helpful.
What causes these skin conditions?
You can develop melasma due to numerous reasons. Some common causes of melasma and things that can make it worse are:
- Hormonal birth control
- Sun exposure
- Exposure to blue light from electronic devices
- Thyroid disease
It’s helpful to figure out the cause of your melasma because sometimes that can be the key to fixing it. For example, many women develop melasma during pregnancy or while using hormonal birth control, and for some the melasma will go away on its own afterwards.
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation can develop from acne, eczema, bug bites, rashes, razor burn, skin infections, impetigo, psoriasis, burns, allergic reactions, and chemical peels, among other causes.
How do you get rid of melasma and hyperpigmentation?
While there’s no cure to fully get rid of melasma, there are many skin care products that can aid in diminishing its appearance so you can feel more confident about your skin. Keep in mind that what works for some people might not work as well for others, due to various factors like the cause of your melasma, your hormone levels, your exposure to the sun and/or blue light from screens, and if you have sensitivity to certain ingredients, among others. With this in mind, you may need to try more than one product if something isn’t working for you.
Another thing to keep in mind when trying to get rid of melasma is that melasma and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation can be slow to respond to treatments, so these products can take time to reduce the appearance of your melasma. Just because you haven’t seen results in a few short weeks doesn’t mean that it isn’t working.
Many of these products can take many months before you’re able to notice results, and the changes can be so gradual that you might not notice them happening. Consistency is key. It can be helpful to take a “before” picture of your skin (without wearing makeup, during the day and standing near a window for good natural lighting) so you can look back and compare your progress.
This article was about highly-rated products that are known to aid in the task to get rid of melasma, dark spots, and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Now that you know all about the best products, remember that consistency is key when it comes to using these products. And if one doesn’t work for you, don’t give up, because there are many top-rated products in the list above for you to try on your melasma or hyperpigmentation.
This article is not intended as medical advice. Always check with your doctor if you have a question or concern about using a new skin care product. Products listed are accurate at time of publication, but ingredients and formulas are subject to change at any time, so it is advised to check ingredients and descriptions on product pages prior to purchase.