If you have dark spots, certain serums can help fade these marks for a more even complexion. Below, we’ve created a list of the best serums for dark spots.

Our Recommendations

1. Vitamin C Serum

Mad Hippie Serum for Anti-aging and brightening

Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum

This natural vitamin C serum contains sodium ascorbyl phosphate (a stable form of vitamin C) and other effective skincare ingredients to help brighten, hydrate, and provide anti-aging benefits.

Skin types: All Skin Types
Best for: Anti-aging and brightening
Tested on animals: No
How to use: After cleansing, apply four to five drops of the serum onto the face, neck, and chest. Follow up with a moisturizer, and an SPF during the day.
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This effective yet affordable vitamin C serum contains antioxidant-rich vitamin E and ferulic acid, which have been shown to increase the efficacy of vitamin C. It is also packed with additional ingredients that help hydrate, soften, and smooth the skin, including konjac root and hyaluronic acid.

Pros

  • Natural
  • Fragrance-free
  • Vegan and cruelty-free

Cons

  • Some reviewers noted it felt sticky on the skin

In addition to the ingredients mentioned above, this vegan and cruelty-free vitamin C serum contains chamomile, grapefruit, and clary sage, which provide antioxidant protection and calm the skin.

Water Deionized, Vitamin C (Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate), Alkyl Benzoate, Vegetable Glycerin, Water, Glycerin, Sodium Levulinate, Sodium Anisate, Clary Sage (Salvia Sclarea), Grapefruit (Citrus Grandis), Hyaluronic acid, Amorphophallus Konjac Root Powder, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf, Vitamin E (Tocotrienol), Ferulic acid, Chamomile Flower Extract (Recutita Matricaria), Sodium Phytate, Xanthan Gum, Hydroxyethylcellulose

  1. National Center for Biotechnology. "Vitamin C in dermatology"

    Accessed Nov. 11, 2021.

2. Power 10 Formula LI Effector with Licorice

It’s Skin Power 10 Formula

It’s Skin Serum for Brightening and Evening Skin Tone

It’s Skin Power 10 Formula LI Effector with Licorice

This affordable serum contains a high concentration of licorice extract, which works to brighten and promote a more even skin tone.

Skin types: All Skin Types
Best for: Brightening and Evening Skin Tone
Tested on animals: Yes
How to use: After cleansing, apply two to three drops of the serum all over the face and neck. Follow up with a moisturizer.
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This Korean serum is perfect for those looking to even out their skin tone. Licorice (glycyrrhiza uralensi) extract is known to help fade hyperpigmentation and melasma, improve skin texture, soothe the skin, and reduce redness.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Gentle
  • Fragrance-free
  • Oil-free

Cons

  • None

This daily serum can also be combined with other It’s Skin Power 10 serums to target specific skin concerns you’re looking to address.

Water, Glycyrrhiza, Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin,Polyglutamic, Acid, Carbomer, Triethanolamine, Methylparaben, Chlorphenesin, Disodium EDTA

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Cosmeceuticals for Hyperpigmentation: What is Available?"

    Accessed Nov. 10, 2021.

3. C E Ferulic with 15% L-Ascorbic Acid

SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic with 15% L-Ascorbic Acid

SkinCeuticals Serum for Anti-aging and brightening

SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic with 15% L-Ascorbic Acid

This brightening and anti-aging vitamin C serum is often considered one of the best of the best. It helps improve signs of aging while fighting environmental aggressors.

Skin types: Normal, Dry, Combination and Sensitive
Best for: Anti-aging and brightening
Tested on animals: Yes
How to use: After cleansing, apply four to five drops of the serum onto the face, neck, and chest. Follow up with a moisturizer, and an SPF during the day.
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This fragrance-free vitamin C serum contains a potent 15% concentration of l-ascorbic acid, a form of vitamin C that helps neutralize free radicals, defend against oxidative stress, and brighten and fight signs of aging. It is formulated with antioxidant-rich vitamin E and ferulic acid, which both further protect against environmental stressors. These ingredients have also been shown to increase the efficacy of vitamin C.

Pros

  • Anti-aging
  • Brightening
  • Fragrance-free

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Some reviewers complain about the smell

This anti-aging serum remains effective for at least 72 hours after being absorbed into the skin. It also contains additional ingredients that help hydrate the skin, including glycerin and sodium hyaluronate.

Water, Ethoxydiglycol, L-Ascorbic Acid, Propylene Glycol, Glycerin, Laureth-23, Alpha Tocopherol, Phenoxyethanol, Triethanolamine, Ferulic Acid, Panthenol, Sodium Hyaluronate

  1. National Center for Biotechnology. "Vitamin C in dermatology"

    Accessed Nov. 9, 2021.

4. Resurfacing Retinol Serum

CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum

CeraVe Serum for Fading post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and minimizing large pores

CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum

This drugstore retinol serum is specifically formulated to tackle post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and large pores, and helps promote an overall even and clear complexion.

Skin types: Normal, Oily and Combination
Best for: Fading post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and minimizing large pores
Tested on animals: Yes
How to use: After cleansing, apply a pump of the serum evenly all over the face, neck, and chest. Use once a day (or less frequently to prevent irritation).
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This is an excellent choice for those looking for an affordable retinol. This fragrance-free retinol serum not only helps with acne scars and large pores, but it can also help fight signs of aging and brighten the skin.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Lightweight
  • Non-comedogenic
  • Fragrance-free
  • Developed with dermatologists

Cons

  • May cause irritation or dryness

This non-comedogenic retinol serum also contains ceramides and niacinamide, which work to calm and restore the skin while maintaining its barrier. Additionally, this formula contains licorice root extract, which gives a brightening boost. That extra benefit may further help lighten discolored scars.

Aqua/Water, Propanediol, Dimethicone, Cetearyl Ethylhexanoate, Niacinamide, Ammonium Polyacryloyldimethyl Taurate, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Potassium Phosphate, Ceramide Np, Ceramide Ap, Ceramide Eop, Carbomer, Cetearyl Alcohol, Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Dimethiconol, Lecithin, Sodium Citrate, Retinol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate, Cholesterol, Phenoxyethanol, Alcohol, Isopropyl Myristate, Caprylyl Glycol, Citric Acid, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Pentylene Glycol, Phytosphingosine, Xanthan Gum, Polysorbate 20, Ethylhexylglycerin

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Why Topical Retinoids Are Mainstay of Therapy for Acne"

    Accessed Nov. 8, 2021.
  2. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "How Much Do We Really Know About Our Favorite Cosmeceutical Ingredients?"

    Accessed Nov. 8, 2021.
  3. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "The structure, function, and importance of ceramides in skin and their use as therapeutic agents in skin-care products"

    Accessed Nov. 8, 2021.

5. Discoloration Correcting Serum

Good Molecules Discoloration_Correcting Serum

Good Molecules Serum for Lightening Dark Spots and Brightening

Good Molecules Discoloration Correcting Serum

This affordable serum is perfect for those looking to lighten discolored spots (like post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation from acne or melasma) for a more even complexion.

Skin types: Normal, Oily, Dry and Combination
Best for: Lightening Dark Spots and Brightening
Tested on animals: No
How to use: After cleansing, apply a few drops of the serum to affected areas. This serum can be used up to two times per day.
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This fragrance-free serum contains two star ingredients that help fade dark marks: tranexamic acid (AKA cetyl tranexamate mesylate) and niacinamide. Tranexamic acid is known to brighten and lighten dark spots, while niacinamide addresses uneven tone and texture.

Pros

  • Brightening
  • Affordable
  • Oil-free
  • Fragrance-free
  • Vegan and cruelty-free

Cons

  • May not be suitable for sensitive skin

In addition to the key ingredients mentioned above, this daily serum contains glycerin, which helps keep the skin hydrated.

Water, Butylene Glycol, Propanediol, Glycerin, Niacinamide, Cetyl Tranexamate Mesylate, Cetyl Alcohol, Ceratonia Siliqua (Carob) Gum, Tamarindus Indica Seed Gum, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Caprylyl Glycol

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Tranexamic Acid for Melasma: Evaluating the Various Formulations"

    Accessed Nov. 8, 2021.
  2. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "New topical tranexamic acid derivative for the improvement of hyperpigmentation and inflammation in the sun-damaged skin"

    Accessed Nov. 8, 2021.
  3. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "How Much Do We Really Know About Our Favorite Cosmeceutical Ingredients?"

    Accessed Nov. 8, 2021.

6. AHA 8% Peeling Serum

Mizon AHA 8% Peeling Serum

Mizon Serum for Exfoliating and Reducing the Signs of Aging

Mizon AHA 8% Peeling Serum

This exfoliating serum combines the power of glycolic acid with other calming ingredients to reveal a smoother skin tone and texture while soothing the skin.

Skin types: All Skin Types
Best for: Exfoliating and Reducing the Signs of Aging
Tested on animals: No
How to use: After cleansing, massage the product into the skin. Follow up with a moisturizer.
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This serum contains an 8% concentration of glycolic acid, an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA). Glycolic acid improves skin tone and texture while minimizing signs of aging.

Pros

  • Contains soothing ingredients to counteract irritation
  • Exfoliating

Cons

  • Contains fragrance

In addition to the glycolic acid, this serum contains a variety of ingredients that hydrate and soothe the skin, including aloe, allantoin, castor oil, centella asiatica (tiger grass) extract, and papaya fruit extract.

Water, Glycolic Acid, Potassium Hydroxide, Butylene Glycol, Propylene Glycol, Sodium Lactate, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Sodium Hyaluronate, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Panthenol, Allantoin, Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Extract, Portulaca Oleracea (Green Purslane) Extract, Carica Papaya (Papaya) Fruit Extract, Arnica Montana (Arnica) Flower Extract, Artemisia Absinthium (Mugwort) Extract, Achillea Millefolium (Common Yarrow) Extract, Gentiana Lutea (Yellow Gentian) Root Extract, Alcohol, Polyquaternium-10, Disodium EDTA, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Fragrance

7. Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%

The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%

The Ordinary Serum for Fighting Acne and Evening Skin Tone

The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%

This product from The Ordinary hosts an impressive variety of benefits. Azelaic acid is a brightening skincare ingredient known for minimizing acne, lightening hyperpigmentation, and reducing redness.

Skin types: All Skin Types
Best for: Fighting Acne and Evening Skin Tone
Tested on animals: No
How to use: After cleansing, apply the product to the face, neck, and chest. Follow up with a moisturizer.
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This product contains a 10% concentration of azelaic acid, a gentle exfoliator that has antibacterial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties. The lightweight gel-cream helps to improve and brighten skin tone, as well as unclog pores and reduce blemishes for clear, smooth skin.

Pros

  • Oil-free
  • Fragrance-free
  • Alcohol-free
  • Vegan and cruelty-free

Cons

  • Some reviewers note that this product can be drying

In addition to its ability to fight acne, azelaic acid is often used to treat rosacea to promote a more even skin tone.

Aqua (Water), Isodecyl Neopentanoate, Dimethicone, Azelaic Acid, Dimethicone/Bis-Isobutyl PPG-20 Crosspolymer, Dimethyl Isosorbide, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Polysilicone-11, Isohexadecane, Tocopherol, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Isoceteth-20, Polysorbate 60, Triethanolamine, Ethoxydiglycol, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphenesin.

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Azelaic acid"

    Accessed Aug. 11, 2021.

8. Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion

Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion

The Ordinary Serum for Anti-Aging

The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion

This is a cult-favorite The Ordinary product, and one of the best for preventing and reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles without the irritation often associated with traditional retinol.

Skin types: All Skin Types
Best for: Anti-Aging
Tested on animals: No
How to use: At night, after cleansing, apply the product to the face, neck, and chest. Follow up with a moisturizer.
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The unique, next-generation retinoid actives in this serum makes it one of the best The Ordinary products for those who want to use a retinol but are worried about irritation. Retinoids (vitamin A derivatives) are well-known for preventing and reducing the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and other signs of aging.

Pros

  • Oil-free
  • Alcohol-free
  • Fragrance-free
  • Lightweight
  • Vegan and cruelty-free

Cons

  • Those with retinoid experience may prefer a stronger product

This product contains granactive retinoid, a complex of solubilized hydroxypinacolone retinoate (HPR). This form of retinoid offers anti-aging benefits without the irritation associated with retinol (which is also a vitamin A derivative). It also contains retinol that comes in a protective capsule to further prevent irritation, boost anti-aging benefits, and support the granactive retinoid.

Aqua (Water), Glycerin, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Ethyl Linoleate, Propanediol, Dimethyl Isosorbide, Cetearyl Isononanoate, Bisabolol, Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate, Retinol, Tasmannia Lanceolata Fruit/Leaf Extract, Inulin Lauryl Carbamate, Glyceryl Stearate, Ceteareth-12, Ceteareth-20, Cetearyl Alcohol, Carrageenan, Xanthan Gum, Acacia Senegal Gum, Cetyl Palmitate, Sucrose Laurate, Polysorbate 20, Isoceteth-20, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Hydroxymethoxyphenyl Decanone, Behentrimonium Chloride, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Disodium EDTA, Dehydroacetic Acid, Benzoic Acid, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphenesin

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Retinoids in the treatment of skin aging: An overview of clinical efficacy and safety"

    Accessed Aug. 11, 2021.

9. Retinol 1% in Squalane

Retinol 1% in Squalane

The Ordinary Serum for Fighting the Signs of Aging

The Ordinary Retinol 1% in Squalane

This product is the highest-strength retinoid serum from The Ordinary, and the brand’s answer to more traditional retinol products. It’s excellent for preventing and minimizing the signs of aging.

Skin types: All Skin Types
Best for: Fighting the Signs of Aging
Tested on animals: No
How to use: At night, after cleansing, apply the product to the face, neck, and chest. Follow up with a moisturizer.
See on Amazon

Retinol is the gold-standard for minimizing wrinkles, fine lines, and hyperpigmentation. Those who are experienced with retinoid products may prefer the Retinol 1% in Squalane over the Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion, as it is more potent. However, with the higher strength comes a higher risk of irritation, so it is best suited for those who’ve used retinoid products in their routine.

Pros

  • Alcohol-free
  • Fragrance-free
  • Vegan and cruelty-free

Cons

  • High likelihood of irritation, especially as skin adapts to the product

This serum contains squalane and jojoba oil, two ingredients that hydrate and soothe the skin. They may help minimize the irritation caused by the retinol.

Squalane, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Retinol, Solanum Lycopersicum (Tomato) Fruit Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Hydroxymethoxyphenyl Decanone, BHT.

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Retinoids in the treatment of skin aging: An overview of clinical efficacy and safety"

    Accessed Aug. 11, 2021.

10. 10% Pure Vitamin C Serum

La Roche-Posay 10% Pure Vitamin C Serum

La Roche-Posay Serum for Hyperpigmentation and Wrinkles

La Roche-Posay 10% Pure Vitamin C Serum

This serum contains a potent concentration of vitamin C, which is known for its ability to brighten, diminish post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, and even skin tone.

Skin types: All Skin Types
Best for: Hyperpigmentation and Wrinkles
Tested on animals: Yes
How to use: After cleansing, apply the serum all over the face, neck, and chest.
See on Amazon

Vitamin C is an incredibly effective skincare ingredient that is known to boost collagen production, which in turn brightens, fades hyperpigmentation, and diminishes fine lines and wrinkles. This serum contains a potent 10% concentration of vitamin C (ascorbic acid), which will help even overall skin tone and texture.

Pros

  • Oil-free
  • Dermatologist tested

Cons

  • Contains fragrance

In addition to ascorbic acid, this serum contains salicylic acid, which gently exfoliates, and hyaluronic acid and sodium hyaluronate, which draw moisture to the skin.

Aqua/Water/Eau, Ascorbic Acid, Cyclohexasiloxane, Glycerin, Alcohol Denat., Potassium Hydroxide, Polymethylsilsesquioxane, Polysilicone-11, Dimethicone, Propylene Glycol, Pentaerythrityl Tetraethylhexanoate, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Tocopherol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Hydrolyzed Hyaluronic Acid, Adenosine, Acetyl Dipeptide-1 Cetyl Ester, Peg-20 Methyl Glucose Sesquistearate, Poloxamer 338, Salicylic Acid, Polyacrylamide, Toluene Sulfonic Acid, Ammonium Polyacryloyldimethyl Taurate, Xanthan Gum, Caprylyl Glycol, Disodium Edta, Bht, Laureth-7, Parfum/Fragrance.

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "The Roles of Vitamin C in Skin Health"

    Accessed Aug. 16, 2021.

11. Antioxidant Serum with SPF 50 Sunscreen

La Roche-Posay Anthelios AOX Antioxidant Serum with SPF 50 Sunscreen

La Roche-Posay Serum for Daily Sun Protection

La Roche-Posay Anthelios AOX Antioxidant Serum with SPF 50 Sunscreen

This product not only provides SPF protection to defend against UVA and UVB rays, but it also contains antioxidants to defend against free radicals that accelerate aging.

Skin types: Normal, Oily, Dry and Combination
Best for: Daily Sun Protection
Tested on animals: Yes
How to use: During the day, after applying serums and a moisturizer, apply the sunscreen to your face, neck, and chest. Reapply every two hours.
See on Amazon

Prevention is key when it comes to maintaining youthful skin, and this water-based serum sunscreen is an excellent choice. The SPF 50 protects the skin from the sun’s rays, which can contribute to premature aging. Additionally, the antioxidant blend protects against damaging free radicals that these UV rays cause.

Pros

  • Fragrance-free
  • Oil-free
  • Dermatologist tested

Cons

  • Not water resistant (use a water resistant sunscreen when swimming or sweating)
  • Contains chemical sunscreen, which may irritate sensitive skin

The antioxidant blend in this sunscreen includes vitamin E, vitamin C, baicalin, and senna alata.

Active: Avobenzone 2.68% (sunscreen), Homosalate 9.60% (sunscreen), Octisalate 2.88% (sunscreen), Octocrylene 5.38% (sunscreen), Oxybenzone 3.46% (sunscreen). Inactive: Water, Dimethicone, Cyclopentasiloxane, Tocopherol, Acrylates/Dimethicone Copolymer, Phenoxyethanol, Propylene Glycol, Caprylyl Glycol, Silica, Sodium Polyacrylate, Ascorbyl Glucoside, Scutellaria Baicalensis Root Extract, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Disodium EDTA, Diethylhexyl Syringylidenemalonate, Polyacrylamide, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Laureth-7, Cassia Alata Leaf Extract, Maltodextrin, Triethanolamine.

  1. American Academy of Dermatology. "Is Sunscreen Safe?"

    Accessed Aug. 20, 2021.

12. Pigmentclar Serum Visible Dark Spot Reducer

La Roche-Posay Pigmentclar Serum Visible Dark Spot Reducer

La Roche-Posay Serum for Hyperpigmentation

La Roche-Posay Pigmentclar Serum Visible Dark Spot Reducer

This dark spot corrector is one of the best La Roche-Posay products for acne scars, because it combines lipo-hydroxy acid with other brightening skincare ingredients that diminish dark spots.

Skin types: All Skin Types
Best for: Hyperpigmentation
Tested on animals: Yes
How to use: After cleansing, apply the serum over affected areas.
See on Amazon

This serum is packed with ingredients that help lighten hyperpigmentation, including lipo-hydroxy acid, which gently exfoliates the skin to help brighten and even out tone and texture. It also contains phe-resorcinol and ferulic acid, which are both antioxidants that further brighten the skin.

Pros

  • Oil-free
  • Non-comedogenic
  • Dermatologist tested

Cons

  • Contains fragrance

In addition to the ingredients mentioned above, this serum also contains niacinamide, which has been shown to help lighten post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

Aqua/water/eau, glycerin, dimethicone, alcohol denat, niacinamide, isopropyl lauroyl sarcosinate, octyldodecanol, peg-20 methyl glucose sesquistearate, dimethiconol, cetearyl ethylhexanoate, isohexadecane, sodium hyaluronate, ginkgo biloba extract/ ginkgo biloba leaf extract, phenylethyl resorcinol, poloxamer 338, ammonium polyacryldimethyltauramide/ammonium polyacryloyldimethyl taurate, disodium edta, isopropyl myristate, capryloyl, salicylic acid, xanthan gum, ferulic acid, polysorbate 80, acrylamide/sodium, acryloyldimethyl taurate copolymer, phenoxyethanol, ci 77891/titanium dioxide, mica, parfum/fragrance.

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "The Use of Lipohydroxy Acid in Skin Care and Acne Treatment"

    Accessed Aug. 18, 2021.
  2. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Postinflammatory hyperpigmentation: A review of the epidemiology, clinical features, and treatment options in skin of color"

    Accessed Aug. 18, 2021.

13. Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%

The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%

The Ordinary Serum for Evening Skin Tone and Fighting the Signs of Aging

The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%

This is one of the best The Ordinary products to add to your skincare routine, because it contains a potent concentration of vitamin C (ascorbic acid), which brightens and evens out overall skin tone while fighting the signs of aging.

Skin types: All Skin Types
Best for: Evening Skin Tone and Fighting the Signs of Aging
Tested on animals: No
How to use: After cleansing, apply the product to the face, neck, and chest. Follow up with a moisturizer.
See on Amazon

Those looking to brighten their skin tone while also fighting against the signs of aging should turn to this product, which has the highest concentration of antioxidant-rich vitamin C of any of the products the brand offers. Since vitamin C has been shown to help with hyperpigmentation, this option is also great for those looking to even out dark spots. In addition to vitamin C, this product contains sodium hyaluronate (the sodium salt of hyaluronic acid), which increases moisture in the skin.

Pros

  • Oil-free
  • Alcohol-free
  • Fragrance-free
  • Vegan and cruelty-free

Cons

  • May irritate sensitive skin

Since this product contains such a high percentage of vitamin C, some users may experience tingling as their skin adjusts, particularly if they’re newer to topical vitamin C.

Ascorbic Acid, Squalane, Isodecyl Neopentanoate, Isononyl Isononanoate, Coconut Alkanes, Ethylene/Propylene/Styrene Copolymer, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Silica Dimethyl Silylate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Glucomannan, Coco-Caprylate/Caprate, Butylene/Ethylene/Styrene Copolymer, Acrylates/Ethylhexyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Trihydroxystearin, BHT.

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Vitamin C in dermatology"

    Accessed Aug. 11, 2021.

14. 1% Retinol Treatment

Paula’s Choice Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment

Paula's Choice Serum for Hyperpigmentation and Wrinkles

Paula’s Choice Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment

This treatment combines retinol, a powerful anti-aging ingredient, with hydrating and brightening ingredients for an even, smooth skin tone.

Skin types: All Skin Types
Best for: Hyperpigmentation and Wrinkles
Tested on animals: No
How to use: After cleansing, massage a pea-sized amount of the treatment into the skin. Initially, limit usage to three times a week to allow the skin to adjust.
See on Amazon

Retinol is the gold-standard for fighting signs of aging, so this is an excellent choice for those with wrinkles, fine lines, and sun spots. The addition of soothing and hydrating ingredients helps counteract some of the potential irritating side effects of retinol.

Pros

  • Fragrance-free
  • Lightweight
  • Non-greasy

Cons

  • May irritate more sensitive skin types

This serum contains vitamin C, which brightens the skin, as well as licorice extract and oat extract, which soothe and calm redness.

Water (Aqua), Dimethicone (skin-softening), Glycerin (skin-replenishing), Butylene Glycol (hydrating), Isononyl Isononanoate (emollient), Castor Isostearate Succinate (skin-softening ), Glyceryl Stearate (texture enhancer), C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate (emollient), Dimethicone Crosspolymer (texture enhancer), PEG-33 (stabilizer), Polysorbate 20 (texture enhancer), Behenyl Alcohol (texture enhancer), PEG-100 Stearate (texture enhancer), Pentaerythrityl Tetraisostearate (stabilizer), Polymethylsilsesquioxane (texture enhancer), Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate (vitamin C/antioxidant), Retinol (skin-restoring), Ceramide NG (skin-replenishing) , Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7 (skin-restoring), Palmitoyl Hexapeptide-12 (skin-restoring), Sodium Hyaluronate (skin-replenishing ), Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate (antioxidant plant extracts/skin-soothing), Glycyrrhiza Glabra Root Extract (licorice extract/antioxidant/skin-soothing), Avena Sativa Kernel Extract (oat extract/antioxidant/skin-soothing), Arctium Lappa Root Extract (burdock extract/antioxidant/skin-soothing), Salix Alba Bark Extract (willow bark extract/antioxidant/skin-soothing), Glycine Soja Sterols (antioxidant/skin-softening ), Lecithin (skin-restoring), Allantoin (skin-soothing), Tocopheryl Acetate (vitamin E/antioxidant), Hydrolyzed Soy Protein (antioxidant/skin-softening), Sorbitan Laurate (texture enhancer), Acetyl Dipeptide-1 Cetyl Ester (skin-soothing), Disodium EDTA (stabilizer), Hydroxyethylcellulose (texture enhancer), Palmitoyl Tripeptide-1 (skin-restoring), Sodium Hydroxide (pH adjuster), Tribehenin (emollient), Caprylyl Glycol (skin-softening), Ethylhexylglycerin (skin-softening), Pentylene Glycol (hydrating), PEG-75 Shea Butter Glycerides (emollient), PPG-12/SMDI Copolymer (stabilizer), PEG-10 Phytosterol (fatty acid-based emollient), PEG-8 Dimethicone (skin-softening), PEG-14 (texture enhancer), Magnesium Aluminum Silicate (texture enhancer), Arachidyl Glucoside (texture enhancer), Arachidyl Alcohol (texture enhancer), Sclerotium Gum (texture enhancer), Carbomer (gel-based texture enhancer), Phenoxyethanol (preservative), Benzoic Acid (preservative)

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Retinoids in the treatment of skin aging: An overview of clinical efficacy and safety"

    Accessed Jul. 30, 2021.

15. 10% Niacinamide Booster

Paula’s Choice 10% Niacinamide Booster

Paula's Choice Serum for Refining Pore Size and Improving Skin Tone

Paula’s Choice 10% Niacinamide Booster

This super light niacinamide product is one of the best Paula’s Choice serums. It delivers a multitude of benefits, including minimizing the appearance of pores, controlling sebum production, smoothing fine lines, reducing redness, and brightening.

Skin types: All Skin Types
Best for: Refining Pore Size and Improving Skin Tone
Tested on animals: No
How to use: After cleansing, apply the booster to the face. Follow up with a moisturizer.
See on Amazon

Niacinamide is a powerful skincare ingredient that offers a wide variety of benefits, which makes this another great multipurpose serum. In addition to minimizing the appearance of pores, it has been shown to control sebum production, smooth fine lines, reduce redness, reduce hyperpigmentation, and brighten the skin.

Pros

  • Fragrance-free
  • Oil-free
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • May cause flushing in those sensitive to niacinamide (patch test prior to using)

In addition to the 10% concentration of niacinamide, this booster contains allantoin and licorice extract, which calm the skin. It also contains vitamin C, which brightens. It’s important to note that users should patch test niacinamide first, because some people are sensitive to it, and it may make acne or flushing worse.

Water (Aqua), Niacinamide (vitamin B3, skin-restoring ), Acetyl Glucosamine (skin replenishing/antioxidant), Ascorbyl Glucoside (vitamin C/antioxidant), Butylene Glycol (hydration), Phospholipids (skin replenishing), Sodium Hyaluronate (hydration/skin replenishing), Allantoin (skin-soothing), Boerhavia Diffusa Root Extract (skin-soothing), Glycerin (hydration/skin replenishing), Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate (skin-soothing), Glycyrrhiza Glabra Root Extract (licorice extract/skin-soothing), Ubiquinone (antioxidant), Epigallocatechin Gallate (antioxidant), Beta-Glucan (skin-soothing/antioxidant), Panthenol (skin replenishing), Carnosine (antioxidant), Genistein (antioxidant), Citric Acid (pH balancing), Sodium Citrate (pH balancing), Sodium Hydroxide (pH balancing), Xanthan Gum (texture-enhancing), Disodium EDTA (stabilizer), Ethylhexylglycerin (preservative), Phenoxyethanol (preservative)

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "The effect of 2% niacinamide on facial sebum production"

    Accessed Jul. 30, 2021.
  2. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "How Much Do We Really Know About Our Favorite Cosmeceutical Ingredients?"

    Accessed Jul. 30, 2021.

16. 10% Azelaic Acid Booster

Paula’s Choice 10% Azelaic Acid Booster

Paula's Choice Serum for Evening Tone and Texture

Paula’s Choice 10% Azelaic Acid Booster

This booster combines azelaic acid with other brightening ingredients that work together to fade post-acne marks, minimize blemishes, brighten, and even out tone and texture.

Skin types: All Skin Types
Best for: Evening Tone and Texture
Tested on animals: No
How to use: After cleansing, apply the booster to affected areas or all over the skin. Follow up with a moisturizer.
See on Amazon

This is a great multi-purpose serum to have on hand. If you have hyperpigmentation, this is a particularly excellent product for you, as azelaic acid has been shown to help fade dark marks. It’s also great for smoothing the skin for a more even texture.

Pros

  • Fragrance-free
  • Oil-free
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • May irritate more sensitive skin types

This booster contains salicylic acid, a chemical exfoliator that further minimizes the appearance of blemishes and evens out skin texture and tone. It also contains licorice root, which calms redness and brightens.

Water (Aqua), Azelaic Acid (skin-brightening/tone-improving), C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate (emollient), Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride (skin-replenishing), Methyl Glucose Sesquistearate (emollient), Glycerin (skin-replenishing), Cetearyl Alcohol (texture enhancer), Glyceryl Stearate (texture enhancer), Dimethicone (hydration/texture enhancer), Salicylic Acid (exfoliant), Adenosine (skin-restoring), Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract (skin-soothing), Boerhavia Diffusa Root Extract (skin-soothing), Allantoin (skin-soothing), Bisabolol (skin-soothing), Cyclopentasiloxane (texture enhancer), Xanthan Gum (stabilizer), Sclerotium Gum (stabilizer), Propanediol (hydration), Butylene Glycol (hydration), Phenoxyethanol (preservative)

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Postinflammatory Hyperpigmentation"

    Accessed Jul. 30, 2021.
  2. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Over-the-counter Acne Treatments"

    Accessed Jul. 30, 2021.

17. 20% Vitamin C + E Ferulic Acid Serum

Timeless 20% Vitamin C + E Ferulic Acid Serum

Timeless Serum for Brightening and Anti-Aging

Timeless 20% Vitamin C + E Ferulic Acid Serum

This affordable vitamin C serum contains a 20% concentration of vitamin C, which helps brighten and fight signs of aging.

Skin types: All Skin Types
Best for: Brightening and Anti-Aging
Tested on animals: No
How to use: After cleansing, apply the serum onto the face, neck, and chest. Follow up with a moisturizer, and an SPF during the day.
See on Amazon

This lightweight serum contains a 20% concentration of l-ascorbic acid, a form of vitamin C that works to brighten and provide anti-aging benefits. It also contains vitamin E and ferulic acid, two skincare ingredients that protect the skin from environmental stressors and have also been shown to increase the efficacy of vitamin C.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Affordable
  • Fragrance-free
  • Vegan and cruelty-free

Cons

  • Some reviewers complain about the pump

In addition to the ingredients mentioned above, this serum contains hyaluronic acid, which attracts moisture to the skin to keep it hydrated.

Water, Ethoxydiglycol, L-Ascorbic Acid, Propylene Glycol, Alpha Tocopherol, Polysorbate 80, Panthenol, Ferulic Acid, Sodium Hyaluronate, Benzylalcohol, Dehydroacetic Acid

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Vitamin C in Dermatology"

    Accessed Aug. 31, 2021.

18. Vitamin C Serum

TruSkin Vitamin C Serum

TruSkin Serum for Brightening and Anti-Aging

TruSkin Vitamin C Serum

This gentle and affordable serum contains vitamin C, which brightens and fights signs of aging, as well as other soothing and hydrating skincare ingredients.

Skin types: All Skin Types
Best for: Brightening and Anti-Aging
Tested on animals: No
How to use: After cleansing, apply the serum onto the face, neck, and chest. Follow up with a moisturizer, and an SPF during the day.
See on Amazon

This vitamin C serum contains sodium ascorbyl phosphate, a stable form of vitamin C that helps brighten and provide anti-aging benefits. It also contains hyaluronic acid, which attracts moisture to the skin, and vitamin E, an antioxidant that protects against free radical damage to the skin.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Fragrance-free
  • Vegan and cruelty-free

Cons

  • Some acne-prone reviewers noted that it broke them out

In addition to the ingredients mentioned above, this serum contains jojoba oil, which moisturizes, and witch hazel, which soothes.

Organic Deionized Herbal Infusion, Organic Aloe Barbadensis Leaf (Aloe), Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate (Vitamin C), MSM, Botanical Hyaluronic Acid (Cassia Angustifolia Seed Polysaccharide), Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel), Vitamin E (d-alpha Tocopheryl Acetate), Carbomer, (2s)-2-Amino-5-guanidinopentanoic Acid, Organic Gotu Kola, Wildcrafted Horsetail (Equisetum Arvense), Wildcrafted Dandelion, Wildcrafted Geranium, Organic Jojoba Oil (Organic Simmondsia Chinensis), Phenoxyethanol, Ethyl Hexyl Glycerin.

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Sodium ascorbyl phosphate in topical microemulsions"

    Accessed Aug. 31, 2021.
  2. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant Oils"

    Accessed Aug. 31, 2021.

19. Vitamin C Concentrated Serum

Derma E Vitamin C Concentrated Serum

Derma E Serum for Brightening and Anti-Aging

Derma E Vitamin C Concentrated Serum

This affordable vitamin C serum contains a stable and effective form of vitamin C, as well as additional ingredients that help hydrate and soothe the skin.

Skin types: All Skin Types
Best for: Brightening and Anti-Aging
Tested on animals: No
How to use: After cleansing, apply the serum onto the face, neck, and chest. Follow up with a moisturizer, and an SPF during the day.
See on Amazon

Vitamin C – an antioxidant that fights free radicals that can damage the skin – is key for a rounded out skincare routine, and this option is affordable and effective. It contains sodium ascorbyl phosphate, a stable form of vitamin C that doesn’t deteriorate as easily as other forms. It is able to brighten the skin and fight signs of aging, including fine lines, wrinkles, and dark spots.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Lightweight
  • Vegan and cruelty-free

Cons

  • Contains fragrance

In addition to vitamin C, this serum contains a blend of ingredients that hydrate, soothe, and nourish the skin, including hyaluronic acid, green tea leaf extract, rosehip oil, and aloe vera extract.

Purified Water, Glycerin (Vegetable Derived), Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate (Vitamin C, Stay-C 50), Sodium Hyaluronate (Hyaluronic Acid), Organic Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract*, Microcrystalline Cellulose (Plant Derived), Cellulose Gum (Plant Derived), Alpha-Glucan Oligosaccharide (Vegetable Derived), Polymnia Sonchifolia (Yacon) Root Juice, Maltodextrin, Lactobacillus (Probiotic), Rosa Canina (Rosehip) Fruit Oil, Organic Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Extract *, Allantoin, Panthenol (Provitamin B5), Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride (Plant Derived), Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Xanthan Gum, Sodium Citrate, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Natural Fragrance Oils

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant Oils"

    Accessed Aug. 31, 2021.
  2. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Pharmacological attribute of Aloe vera: Revalidation through experimental and clinical studies"

    Accessed Aug. 31, 2021.
  3. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Sodium ascorbyl phosphate in topical microemulsions"

    Accessed Aug. 31, 2021.

20. C15 Super Booster

Paula’s Choice C15 Super Booster

Paula's Choice Serum for Brightening and Fighting Signs of Aging

Paula's Choice C15 Super Booster

The 15% concentration of pure vitamin C in this serum helps brighten the skin while reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Skin types: All Skin Types
Best for: Brightening and Fighting Signs of Aging
Tested on animals: No
How to use: Massage two to three drops of the serum into clean skin. Follow up with a moisturizer.
See on Amazon

This lightweight serum is one of the best Paula’s Choice products, as it contains a powerful concentration of vitamin C, which evens out and brightens the skin tone while also minimizing fine lines and wrinkles. It also contains ingredients that hydrate and soothe the skin.

Pros

  • Fragrance-free
  • Lightweight
  • Non-greasy

Cons

  • May irritate more sensitive skin types

In addition to vitamin C, this serum contains ferulic acid and vitamin E. These antioxidants protect the skin, and are also known to increase the efficacy of vitamin C.

Water (Aqua), Ascorbic Acid (vitamin C/antioxidant), Butylene Glycol (solvent/texture enhancer), Ethoxydiglycol (solvent/texture enhancer), Glycerin (skin-replenishing), PPG-26-Buteth-26 (emulsifier/skin-softening), PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil (emulsifier/solubility enhancer), Pentylene Glycol (skin-softening slip agent), Tocopherol (vitamin E/stabilizing antioxidant), Sodium Hyaluronate (hydration), Hexanoyl Dipeptide-3 Norleucine Acetate (skin-restoring peptide), Lecithin (skin-restoring/hydration), Ferulic Acid (stabilizing antioxidant), Panthenol (vitamin B5/skin-softening, skin-soothing), Bisabolol (skin-soothing), Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Extract (skin-softening/chelating agent), Propyl Gallate (antioxidant), Sodium Gluconate (chelating agent), Sodium Hydroxide (pH adjuster), Phenoxyethanol (preservative), Ethylhexylglycerin (preservative)

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Vitamin C in dermatology"

    Accessed Jul. 30, 2021.

FAQs

How do you get rid of dark spots fast?

Fading dark spots does require some patience. However, if you use the right products consistently, you will be able to speed up the process. You also need to wear sunscreen daily, as damage from the sun can make these spots even darker, and cause new spots to form. If you’re looking for a quicker fix, talk to your dermatologist about whether a professional treatment is appropriate for your needs. A laser treatment, chemical peel, or other in-office treatment may help you fade your dark spots more quickly.

Is vitamin C good for dark spots?

Yes, vitamin C is a great ingredient to use in your skincare routine if you’re looking to fade dark spots. It promotes the production of collagen, and has been shown to help fade the appearance of these spots to promote a more even skin tone.

Can I use a vitamin C serum everyday?

Yes, most people can tolerate using a vitamin C serum everyday. Regular application will also help you fade your dark spots more quickly. However, some people may find that using a vitamin C serum on a daily basis may irritate their skin, particularly when using a product with a higher concentration of this ingredient. If you’re new to using a vitamin C serum, consider applying it every other day to allow your skin to adjust to the ingredient. After a few weeks, you can increase to daily usage, if it seems suitable for your skin.

The Bottom Line

There are plenty of great serums for dark spots available on the market. With consistent usage, you’ll be able to quickly fade dark spots for a more even complexion.