How to Even Out Skin Tone

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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.