“Come out and play under my warm rays,” the sun invites you.
It’s a promise full of light, warmth and carefree fun. How can you resist?
What that sneaky sun never tells you is the price you have to pay for it: premature wrinkles and sun spots. They appear one day completely out of the blue. You’re caught off-guard but you know who to blame.
Pointing the finger now is useless. Save your energies to get rid of them. It’s not easy but it can be done – if you know how. Here’s the best skincare routine to fade dark spots away:
Morning Skincare Routine
Step 1: Cleanser
Let’s start with the basics: if you want your dark spots treatments to fade away the damn things, you need to help them penetrate deeply into your skin.
The easiest way to do it? Cleansing. Remove all that dirt and grime that’s sitting on your face and those actives won’t find anything blocking their path.
It doesn’t matter much what cleanser you choose. As long as it cleanses everything and doesn’t leave your skin feeling tight afterwards, you’re good.
- Corsx Low PH Good Morning Gel Cleanser ($11.00): available at Sokoglam and YesStyle
- Neutrogena Fresh Foaming Cleanser ($6.49): available at Ulta
- Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Softening Cream Cleanser ($17.00): available at Dermstore and Paula’s Choice
Related: How To Choose The Best Cleanser For Your Skin Type
Don’t know which skincare products you can mix and match together and which ones deactivate each other? Download your FREE “How To Layer Actives Like A Pro” cheat sheet to get the most out of your skincare products:
Step 2: CEF Serum
CEF stands for Vitamin C + Vitamin E + Ferulic Acid.
One of the most powerful antiaging combos you can use on your skin. This trio:
- Fights the free radicals that cause premature wrinkles
- Boosts collagen production
- Protects skin from sun damage
- Reduces dark and sun spots.
Yep, CEF helps fade away the dark spots you already have AND prevent new ones for forming.
- Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum ($80.00/£67.00): available at Cult Beauty, Sephora and SpaceNK
- Paula’s Choice C15 Booster ($49.00): available at Feel Unique, Nordstrom and Paula’s Choice
- Skinceuticals CE Ferulic ($166.00): available at Blue Mercury and Dermstore
Related: Why You Should Add Vitamin C To Your Skincare Routine
Step 3: Hydroquinone Cream
Love it or hate it, hydroquinone is still the best treatment for sun spots. It works in two ways:
- It inhibits the activity of tyrosinase (the enzyme that controls the synthesis of melanin)
- It increases the cytotoxicity of melanocytes (cells that produce melanin)
It’s true it’s pretty harsh but then all the most powerful antiaging actives are (retinol, anyone?).
It’s also true it can cause ochronosis (a bluish black discolouration), especially in people with dark skin. But it’s rare.
Instead, it DOESN’T cause cancer. That’s just a rumour science has debunked a long time ago.
For best results, use it in 4 months cycles. That means 4 months on hydroquinone, 4 months on another skin-lightener, then back to hydroquinone again.
If you’re really not comfortable with the idea of using hydroquinone, you can use another skin-lightener all year round. Just be aware they may work more slowly.
- Alpha Skin Care Dual Action Skin Lightener ($10.99): available at Ulta
Related: 10 Ingredients That Fade Away Dark Spots
Step 4: Sunscreen
Here’s the truth: you can do everything else I tell you to do in this post but if you don’t wear sunscreen religiously every single day, nothing’s gonna work.
CEF, hydroquinone and whatever else you throw at your dark spots may fade them a little but all that unprotected sun exposure will bring them back with a vengeance.
By the way, it’s not enough to apply a thin layer in then morning. You need to apply a whole glass shot for your face and neck every few hours.
A pain, I know. But you’re sabotaging all your efforts if you don’t.
- Drunk Elephant Umbra Tinte Physical Daily Defense Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30 ($36.00):available at Cult Beauty, Sephora, and SpaceNK
- EltaMD UV Pure BroadSpectrum SPF 47 ($24.50): available at Dermstore and Walmart
- Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection SPF 50 Sunscreen + WetForce For Sensitive Skin & Children ($42.00): available at Nordstrom and Ulta
Night Skincare routine
Step 1: Cleanse skin
We’ve already covered this, so I won’t bore you again. I’ll just tell you that you can safely use your morning cleanser at night too, unless it’s not powerful enough to remove every last trace of makeup. You want those skin-lightening products to penetrate deep into the skin, so cleanse it well!
Step 2A: Glycolic acid
This is where your skincare routine gets a bit tricky. To get the best results, you’ll have to throw more than one active at those dark spots. But all those actives are harsh. You can’t use them all at the same time.
One trick is to use some of them in the morning and others at night. Another its to use them on alternate nights. That’s what I suggest you do here.
One some nights, use glycolic acid. It’s a powerful exfoliator with a very small molecular structure that allows it to easily penetrate skin and do its magic.
Those dead cells on the surface of your skin are the darkest, most sundamaged. Remove that layer and you’ll uncover the one underneath, which is brighter and more even-toned. This takes time but, after a few months of this cycle, your dark spots will start to fade.
Bonus points: glycolic acid also hydrates skin and boosts collagen.
- Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum ($90.00): available at Cult Beauty, Sephora and SpaceNK
- Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 8% AHA Lotion ($29.00): available at Dermstore and Paula’s Choice
- The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution (£6.80): available at Beauty Bay, Cult Beauty and Feel Unique
Related: The Complete Guide To Glycolic Acid
Step 2B: Retinol Serum
On the nights you’re not using glycolic acid, opt for retinol. This antiaging superstar speeds up cellular turnover, i.e. they skin’s exfoliating process. That alone makes your dark spots less visible overtime.
Bonus points: retinol also boosts collagen production and destroys the free radicals that cause wrinkles. It’s an all round antiaging powerhouse.
Just don’t go overboard! Retinol is harsh so a bit of irritation at the beginning is normal. Start with a small concentration and increase the dose gradually.
- Dr Dennis Gross Ferulic Acid + Retinol Brightening Solution ($88.00): available at Dermstore, Nordstrom, Sephora and SpaceNK
- Paula’s Choice Resist 1% Retinol Booster ($52.00): available at Feel Unique and Paula’s Choice
- Peter Thomas Roth Retinol Fusion PM ($65.00): available at Beauty Bay, Cult Beauty and Sephora
Related: The Complete Guide To Retinol
Step 3: Moisturizer
It’s time for the last step: moisturizer. Pick one with plenty of antioxidants to help keep wrinkles at bay for longer. But make sure it’s packaged in an air-tight, opaque tube, or they won’t be effective for long!
- Boscia Green Tea Oil-Free Moisturizer ($38.00): available at Dermstore and Ulta
- First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Face Moisturiser ($28.00): available at Dermstore, Feel Unique, Sephora, and Ulta
- Paula’s Choice Defense Nightly Reconditioning Moisturizer ($29.00): available at Dermstore, Nordstrom, and Paula’s Choice
The Bottom Line
With the right skincare routine and products, you can get rid of dark spots and achieve the brighter, smoother skin you deserve.