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How to Even Out Skin Tone

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


  • 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.
  • TIP: 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.
  • 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.
  • TIP: If you wear foundation, use a liquid one. It’s better at evening out skin tone than cream or powder makeup.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • : Hydroquinone can be dangerous if taken in high doses for extended periods of time—leading some countries to ban it. Use under medical supervision.
  • 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.
  • Step 6: See a professional For severe or stubborn dark spots, consider chemical peels, laser resurfacing, or microdermabrasion treatments.
  • FACT: Sun damage is the main cause of wrinkles, dark spots, and uneven skin tone.

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

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