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2022's Top Spot Correctors for Dark Spots & Hyperpigmentation

We'll reveal the top 5 most effective
spot correctors for bright, even-toned skin at any age.

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Uneven skin tone? Sun spots? Age spots? As we notice skin discoloration begin to show up in the mirror, it's common to feel frustrated or even self-conscious. And, unfortunately, dark spots don't go away on their own.

That's why dark spot correctors are popping up online and in retail stores everywhere, promising skin that looks refreshed, radiant and youthful.

A Quality Spot Corrector
Can Reduce the Look of:

Age spots

Sun spots

Blemish scars

Blurry, widespread discoloration

Hyperpigmentation

Dark spots

Uneven skin tone

However, some retail brands add cheap fillers and additives to their formulas that dilute potency and can even be harmful to your overall skin health.

To help you make an informed purchase, we reveal what causes dark spots, the top spot corrector ingredients to look for, and how high-quality e-commerce products could deliver maximum results.

What Causes Dark Spots?

Dark spots or sun spots can happen all over your body from a day in the summer sunshine or weeks on vacation sitting under an umbrella. With prolonged sun exposure, our skin releases a pigment called melanin to protect itself from UV rays. 

Sometimes this results in a glowing tan, but this natural UV response can also often cause excess melanin to pool in key areas of our skin, which can then cause discoloration or dark spots over time. Post-acne marks are also frequently darkened due to overexposure from UV light which can cause this kind of discoloration.

This is why high-quality spot correctors typically contain a combination of active ingredients and antioxidants that work together to exfoliate the skin to maintain smoothness, and help prevent melanin from collecting in concern areas.

Top Ingredients to Look For:

NiacinamideThis vitamin not only helps diminish the look of skin pigmentation and dark spots, but also helps maintain a smooth-looking complexion.

Hyaluronic AcidOften listed as Sodium Hyaluronate, Hyaluronic Acid is a powerful ingredient that soothes dark circles and deeply moisturizes while skin is under repair.

Brightening AcidsA group of skin-smoothing ingredients that gently exfoliate and moisturize for a dewy complexion. Look for a formula that lists some or all of Glycolic acid, Lactic acid, and Phytic acid.

Polyglutamic AcidAn intensely hydrating acid that can hold up to 5,000 times its weight in moisture and works synergistically with hyaluronic acid to visibly smooth and brighten skin.

White Shiitake MushroomNature's answer to hydroquinone, white shiitake is a kojic-acid rich brightener that gently exfoliates to minimize the appearance of discoloration, dark spots, and redness.

A dark spot corrector with these ingredients will go a long way to help your complexion, but there are other things to consider before making a purchase:

What to Avoid

Disreputable CompaniesLook for a spot corrector from a reputable seller with positive reviews. If you're unable to find this information, you should proceed with caution.

Hydroquinone & MercuryThese synthetic ingredients can cause unwanted results. In fact, hydroquinone is banned in Europe and Japan because prolonged use can result in significant skin discoloration.

Hidden GuaranteesAvoid companies that hide details in their return policy's terms and conditions. They can make it difficult to get your money back, if at all.

Overnight ResultsBe on the lookout for dark spot correctors that promise fast results. Real skin enhancement takes time.

Your Definitive Dark Spot Corrector Checklist:

Research Retail BrandsAlthough many drugstore products seem to list well-known ingredients on their labels, they often cut corners and use poor-quality ingredients to keep operating costs as low as possible for mass production. Furthermore, it’s difficult to determine how long a product has been sitting on a retail shelf—or how long its potency will last.

The E-Commerce AdvantageMany successful e-commerce beauty brands have inherently lower overhead costs, which gives them the ability to invest more in creating superior skincare formulas. Therefore, by selling directly to you, online beauty brands are often able to offer higher quality products at a more affordable cost.

Money-Back GuaranteeAmericans spend millions of dollars every year for youthful skin, and they still find themselves unhappy with an apparent lack of results. It’s better—and safer—to invest in a product that offers a 100% money-back, no-questions-asked guarantee. This shows the company's faith in the potency of its product and the results you will experience.

Here's who made the cut...

After closely analyzing almost 70 different dark spot correctors and over 10,000 user reviews, we unfortunately only found 5 dark spot correctors that met our requirements. There were a surprisingly high number of ineffective products with either sub-standard ingredients or confusing money-back guarantees. Quality dark spot correctors aren't easy to find, and out of 67 products that we reviewed, only 5 of them carry our recommendation.

Top 5 Spot Correctors of 2022

Click to see the list of spot correctors we evaluated >>

1. Spot Check

hat
a bottle of red liquid

Total Ranking

9.6/10

A

Overall Grade

PROS

  • Naturally derived ingredients that help brighten and hydrate dry skin
  • Made in the USA with imported ingredients
  • Clear list of ingredients
  • Noticeable results
  • Niacinamide, polyglutamic acid, brightening acids, sodium hyaluronate and white shiitake mushroom for youthful skin
  • No sulfates, fillers, or synthetic components
  • 60-day, risk-free, money-back guarantee

CONS

  • Only sold in the U.S. & Canada
The Bottom Line

Tru Alchemy's Spot Check is our #1 pick because of its naturally derived formula that brightens the skin while minimizing the appearance of hyperpigmentation, dark circles, and acne scarring.


It contains a patented version of sodium hyaluronate, niacinamide, white shiitake mushroom, polyglutamic acid, and a blend of 3 brightening acids—phytic, lactic, and glycolic—as well as other ingredients that work together to visibly smooth and hydrate the skin.


Spot Check is also free of hydroquinone, mercury, synthetic dyes, synthetic fragrances, petroleum, sulfates, and other harsh chemicals. And, Tru Alchemy offers a 60-day money-back guarantee, no questions asked, which shows us they stand by their product.*

*Results are based on the Smarter Reviews Ranking System and do not necessarily reflect typical results from the use of these products. Please visit product websites for more information.

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2. Advanced Pigment Corrector

graphical user interface, text, application
packaged goods

Total Ranking

9.2/10

A-

Overall Grade

PROS


  • Formulated for all skin types
  • 3 brightening acids
  • Noticeable results

  • Great return policy and customer service

CONS

  • High price point at $119 for 1 fl. oz.

  • Customers had to make multiple purchases to see results
  • Contains few naturally derived ingredients for skin
The Bottom Line

The Advanced Pigment Corrector by Skinceuticals came in at #2 on our list of top five spot correctors. We like that it contains three brightening acids: salicylic acid, hydroxyphenoxy propionic acid, and ellagic acid. And the 90-day return policy is one of the best we’ve seen.


The main complaint about this product is the high price point.  At one fluid ounce, Advanced Pigment Corrector costs $119.91. A few customers ran out of the corrector and needed to repurchase before they saw their results.


Though it's expensive, Advanced Pigment Corrector by Skinceuticals earns the #2 pick for its quality formula and 90-day return policy.*

*Results are based on the Smarter Reviews Ranking System and do not necessarily reflect typical results from the use of these products. Please visit product websites for more information.

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3. Clinical Grade IPL Dark Spot Correcting Serum

graphical user interface, application
packaged goods

Total Ranking

8.8/10

B+

Overall Grade

PROS


  • Well-known name brand
  • Includes 2 brightening acids

  • Vegan, cruelty-free, paraben-free and fragrance-free

CONS

  • High price point at $92

  • Limited 30-Day Return Policy only for unopened products
  • Some customers reported receiving discolored, rancid product
The Bottom Line

Dr. Dennis Gross’ Clinical Grade IPL Dark Spot Correcting Serum comes in 3rd place on our list because of its formula that contains 2 brightening acids: kojic acid and lactic acid. However, at $92, the treatment itself is expensive.

While our researchers appreciate the addition of Vitamin C (ascorbic acid), consumers have complained that they received rancid, discolored products due to improper packaging and frequent oxidation after only a few uses. It’s also important to note that Dr. Gross offers a limited 30-day return policy for unopened products only, so this is quite inconvenient if the product doesn’t work for your skin type.

Despite these concerns, all of Dr. Gross’ products are vegan, cruelty-free, paraben-free, and fragrance-free. For those reasons, Dr. Gross landed our #3 spot.*

*Results are based on the Smarter Reviews Ranking System and do not necessarily reflect typical results from the use of these products. Please visit product websites for more information.

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4. Rapid Age Spot and Pigment Lightening Serum

hat
a close up of a white bottle

Total Ranking

8.4/10

B

Overall Grade

PROS

  • Fast results
  • Good return policy

CONS

  • High price point at $78
  • Contains hydroquinone
  • Formulated with other synthetic additives

  • Sticky texture
The Bottom Line

While Murad's Rapid Age Spot and Pigment Lightening Serum is quite popular, it does contain hydroquinone, a potentially unsafe ingredient.

We ultimately decided to include Rapid Age Spot and Pigment Lightening Serum on our list because it's a potent formula that may act faster than others, but at a possible cost to your skin's health.

Users also felt that this was a relatively more cost-effective item, so buyers on a budget might be willing to take the chance. Despite its active ingredient, we decided to take our Smarter Shoppers word for it and put Murad's Rapid Age Spot Pigment Lightening Serum in the 4th spot on our list.*

*Results are based on the Smarter Reviews Ranking System and do not necessarily reflect typical results from the use of these products. Please visit product websites for more information.

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5. Rapid Tone Repair Dark Spot Corrector

number
a white tube with a black label

Total Ranking

8.2/10

B-

Overall Grade


PROS

  • Hyaluronic Acid
  • Mica
  • Vitamin C

CONS

  • May cause mild irritation
  • May not be suitable for the eye area
The Bottom Line

Neutrogena’s Rapid Tone Repair Dark Spot Corrector ranks 5th on our list. This dark spot corrector contains hyaluronic acidvitamin C, and retinol, all of which can help support a brighter appearance.

And Neutrogena goes as far as to claim that their dark spot corrector will show results within one week. Although this is unlikely to happen, the formula does contain mica, a mineral which may help conceal dark spots temporarily.

The issue with this product is that some users report experiencing irritation, especially around the eyes. This may be due to the retinol which, while effective, is a known irritant.

If you’re concerned about irritation, you can rest easy knowing Neutrogena® offers a 30-day guarantee.*

*Results are based on the Smarter Reviews Ranking System and do not necessarily reflect typical results from the use of these products. Please visit product websites for more information.

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CITATIONS

  1. American Academy of Dermatology. https://www.aad.org/media/news-releases/dermatologist-shines-light-on-natural-ingredients-used-in-new-topical-treatments-for-hyperpigmentation
  2. Oregon State University Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Information Center http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/health-disease/skin-health/vitamin-E
  3. US National Library Of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. Short, RW. Department of Dermatology, Malcolm Grow Medical Center, MD, USA. 2007 Jan;32(1):88-90. Epub 2006 Nov 27. PMID:17137484. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17137484