How to Even Out Skin Tone

Stop bemoaning your blotchy complexion and start evening it out instead, no matter your specific skin complaint.


Up next in Skin Care 101 (64 videos)

Everything you ever wanted to know about how to achieve a flawless face is in this video series.


You Will Need

  • Sunscreen
  • Facial cleanser and moisturizer with alpha hydroxy acids
  • Exfoliant with soy and salicylic acid
  • A fade cream
  • Chemical peels, laser resurfacing, or microdermabrasion
  • Liquid foundation


  1. Step 1

    Halt the damage

    Regardless of your particular skin tone issue—brown spots, freckles, acne scarring— prevent an uneven complexion from becoming worse by limiting your time in the sun, and wearing a daily broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 year-round.

  2. Pregnancy and some hormonal contraceptives can alter pigmentation and make existing blotches worse, so be vigilant about protecting your skin from the sun if you’re pregnant or on birth control.

  3. Step 2

    Use alpha hydroxy acids

    Clean and moisturize your skin with products containing alpha hydroxy acids, which even out skin by removing the dead skin cells that contain extra pigment.

  4. If you wear foundation, use a liquid one. It’s better at evening out skin tone than cream or powder makeup.

  5. Step 3

    Use the right exfoliant

    Exfoliate with a product that contains soy, which blocks the transfer of pigment into skin cells, and salicylic acid, which clears away dead ones.

  6. Step 4

    Apply a fade cream

    If you have dark areas, ask a dermatologist about a fade cream containing hydroquinone, which decreases pigment. Test the cream on a small patch of dark skin; if no irritation develops, apply it twice a day for 12 weeks.

  7. Hydroquinone can be dangerous if taken in high doses for extended periods of time—leading some countries to ban it. Use under medical supervision.

  8. Step 5

    Consider natural products

    If you’d prefer a gentler fade cream, look for one that contains azelaic or kojic acid, arbutin, or bearberry, licorice, or mulberry extract, all of which fade spots by suppressing pigment production.

  9. Step 6

    See a professional

    For severe or stubborn dark spots, consider chemical peels, laser resurfacing, or microdermabrasion treatments.

  10. Sun damage is the main cause of wrinkles, dark spots, and uneven skin tone.