Dark Spot Cream
Dark spot cream treats dark spots on the skin. The most common types of cosmetic dark spots include melasma, hyperpigmentation, acne scars, and age spots. Most of these spots won’t go away on their own and require a combination of prescription treatments and lifestyle changes to lighten.
Luckily, there are plenty of spot treatments, creams, and serums to lighten these spots without a trip to the dermatologist’s office.
What Is Dark Spot Cream?
Dark spot cream is a treatment that targets dark spots on the skin. Dark spots can appear for many reasons, but most cosmetic spots can be treated with a cream — be it prescription or over-the-counter strength.
Conditions Dark Spot Cream Treats
These creams can treat a wide variety of dark skin spots. They only treat cosmetic dark spots (not ones that are caused by other medical conditions or serious conditions, such as melanoma).
If you suffer from any of the below conditions, you may be a good candidate for dark spot treatments.
Melasma is a condition that targets the skin. It appears as tiny dark spots all over the skin or large masses of dark spots on the face, arms, chest, legs, hands, and feet.
It’s most commonly caused by overexposure to the sun, some medications, aging, hormonal imbalances, and genetics.
Melasma is often called the ‘mask of pregnancy’ because it afflicts so many pregnant women. While melasma goes away on its own after the birth of the baby, patients with darker skin tones or people that live in sunnier climates may need preventive treatments or corrective treatments to clear up their skin.
Acne scars are another type of dark spots that commonly pop up on the skin’s surface. These scars are the result of acne spots that became inflamed or infected — usually as the result of picking or popping pimples.
When you break the skin over a pimple, the skin responds by flooding the surrounding cells with collagen. Collagen is what allows the skin to grow back over the acne spot.
Yet sometimes the body produces too much collagen. In this case, the skin grows back darker and thicker. It’s usually also raised above the surrounding skin’s surface.
Age spots and sunspots are the results of overexposure to the sun. If you live in a sunny climate or spend a lot of time outdoors, you’ll want to protect yourself from the harmful UV rays of the sun.
Even if you live in a cold climate and spend extensive amounts of time outdoors, you’ll want to use plenty of sunscreen and dress in long layers to protect your skin from the sun.
These spots are mostly reversible but require a lightening serum or cream to break up the deposits of melanin.
Hyperpigmentation refers to a condition where the skin creates too much melanin in one area. This condition isn’t harmful medically, but it can change the color of the skin on the face, arms, and hands.
It’s often caused by hormonal fluctuations, skin trauma, or medication side effects. It can also be caused by overexposure to the sun.
If your skin tone is darker, you’re also at an increased risk of developing hyperpigmentation.
The good news is that you can usually prevent hyperpigmentation by staying out of the sun. If you’re already suffering from this condition, there are plenty of treatments to lighten the skin.
Patchy skin is a condition that looks exactly as it sounds — patchy. This skin condition is often characterized by large or uneven patches of discoloration. Skin patches may look freckly (like with melasma) or stretch over large areas of the skin (as with hyperpigmentation).
It’s often caused by blood vessel changes or is a side effect of some medications.
How Dark Spot Cream Treatments Work
Dark spot treatments work by lightening the skin — while hydrating its layers and breaking down melanosomes in the skin’s pigment. These creams are meant to be used topically and usually require a dermatologist’s prescription to purchase.
There are several active ingredients in dark spot cream, so check with your dermatologist to get a personalized treatment customized to your skin type.
Dark Spot Cream Ingredients
Most dark spot cream manufacturers use the same active ingredients in their products. Yet the amount of these products may vary, and some manufacturers may even layer these ingredients with inactive ingredients that help reduce the chances of irritation while targeting other skin issues (like large pores or dry skin).
The most common ingredients in dark spot treatments include:
Magnesium ascorbyl phosphate (vitamin C)
While the ingredients in dark spot treatments may vary, most companies use at least niacinamide, kojic acid, and hydroquinone.
Some manufacturers even offer products without ingredients like hydroquinone for patients with sensitive skin.
Hydroquinone is a skin-lightening/skin-bleaching agent that lightens and diminishes the appearance of freckles, sunspots, scars, melasma, and patchy skin. It breaks up the melanosomes in pigment cells, reducing these spots — and in many cases eliminating them altogether.
This agent cannot prevent further dark spots, so you’ll want to use it with an SPF or acne treatment. If your pigmentation is the result of nicotine use or overexposure to the sun, you’ll also want to make some lifestyle changes to prevent further skin damage.
It may cause dermatitis, dryness, or inflammation in the skin. Your dermatologist will recommend a customized dosage of this agent to prevent any major irritation.
Kojic acid reduces irritation and inflammation that may be caused by other ingredients in dark spot treatments. It can also slow the production of tyrosine, an amino acid that contributes to melanin production.
It is derived from the Japanese fungi, koji, which lends its name to the compound. This acid is a by-product of malted rice fermentation and is produced during the sake-making process (Japanese rice wine).
Dermatologists don’t recommend using kojic acid to reduce the appearance of natural dark spots or dark collaboration (only ones resulting from sun damage, nicotine use, or acne scarring).
Many dermatologists have started recommending products with azelaic acid thanks to its gentleness. It is a naturally occurring acid that’s used to break up pigment in sensitive skin.
Not only does it lighten skin, but it can also reduce acne, exfoliate dead skin cells, and reduce red undertones. It doesn’t cause any known interactions with other active ingredients found in most skincare products.
People with darker complexions may not want to use this product as it can sometimes cause unwanted lightening of skin patches.
Niacinamide is a powerhouse in most skincare products because it can pull triple-duty, brightening, hydrating, and shrinking pores.
It’s a synthesized form of vitamin B that evens skin tones and diminishes yellowed, patchy, and uneven dark spots. It’s also used to hydrate dry skin cells.
While sunscreen isn’t always found in dark spot creams, many manufacturers are now adding it. Since a huge amount of patients develop dark spots as the result of overexposure to the sun, sunscreen is important to prevent further spots from developing.
Yet many people already have a favorite sunscreen or wear their dark spot creams to bed at night, so some companies may exclude this ingredient altogether.
If you suffer from dark spots, it’s recommended to use a good sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher to prevent future spots from developing.
Tranexamic acid is another compound that is used to lighten skin tones. It can also reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles as well as reduce inflammation.
It’s used to treat melasma, hyperpigmentation, patchy skin, and acne scarring.
Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate (Vitamin C)
Magnesium ascorbyl phosphate (MAP), otherwise known as vitamin C, is found in plenty of over-the-counter vitamin C serums. Yet, it’s also one of the star ingredients in many prescription-strength dark spot treatments, too.
Essentially, it’s a supporting ingredient that when used with the other ingredients on the above list can help increase cell turnover, collagen production, and UV repair — all without irritation, inflammation, or side effects.
Finally, our good ole’ friend vitamin E can be found in acetate, an antioxidant. This ingredient is used in topical creams to help treat the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and dark spots.
This synthesized form of vitamin E is especially helpful in treating dark spots caused by sun damage.
It’s important to take acetate as directed by a dermatologist. When taken in over-the-counter medications or without doctor supervision, overdosing is common. The side effects of this ingredient may include rash, breast pain, diarrhea, headache, and nausea when taken incorrectly.
Types of Dark Spot Cream
There are dozens of dark spot treatments on the market these days. Yet, a few types of creams stand out from the rest. If you suffer from dark spots and want to lighten your skin, we recommend one of the following treatments:
Skin regeneration sets
Spot treatments treat the spot of skin where the issue is located. Plenty of patients prefer this type of treatment, so they’re not wasting product on areas of the skin that don’t have dark spots.
These treatments are usually concentrated to provide maximum impact on the affected areas. Most spot treatments soak into the skin where they can break up pockets of melanin. They also lighten, hydrate, and protect the skin.
In addition to breaking up these spots, they protect the skin by blocking melanin-producing UV rays. If you suffer from stubborn dark spots or ones that continually return, you may want to opt for this type of treatment.
Night creams target dark spots while you sleep. These creams work well for people that don’t want their dark spot cream to be affected by makeup, sunscreen, or the elements during the day.
Apply the night cream as directed by your dermatologist before bed, and the cream will work its magic overnight. Simply wash and moisturize the following morning as directed by your skin care professional.
Most night creams can be personalized to fit your skincare needs. They are available with alternative active ingredients in case you suffer from sensitive skin.
Patients with darker complexions can opt for alternate ingredients, too, as many ingredients can lift too much pigment from the skin.
Skincare Treatment Sets
If you need a little extra help treating dark spots, you can always opt for a skincare treatment set.
These sets are specially formulated for each patient’s skin type. The products are commonly sold in a skincare set to treat dark spots include:
It’s important to wash your face both morning and night. Cell turnover often happens at night, and you’ll need to wash off any dead skin cells, saliva, or debris from your pillowcase. In the evening, you’ll want to wash off any makeup, debris, or heavy metals you picked up from outdoors.
Day creams protect your face from the sun (many have an SPF 30 or higher) and are a little heavier to protect your skin from the elements. Daytime creams also need to be a bit thicker to keep your skin hydrated all day long.
Night creams are slightly less thick. You don’t want a heavy cream clogging your pores in the night as you sleep (especially as you sweat out toxins). You also don’t need such a heavy cream while you’re hidden away from the elements — including the harmful rays of the sun.
Some skin sets also come with a spot treatment that’s formulated to each person’s skin, based on skin type and special skin needs. For dark spots, this spot treatment may contain ingredients to reverse sun damage and skin discoloration and also contain a dark spot remover.
Neck creams can also be customized to each person’s skincare needs, yet these creams are also specially formulated to treat the delicate skin on the neck. Most neck cream skincare products contain ingredients for firming the skin and breaking up pockets of pigment.
Most people suffering from cosmetic neck skin issues also need to treat fine lines and wrinkles, too.
Neck creams are often a little lighter than other creams as the pores on the neck may be smaller than on other areas of the face and body. These creams also usually address issues on the chest.
Some may contain salicylic acid for acne-prone skin, while others may contain enzymes to boost cell regeneration.
Prescription Dark Spot Cream
There are plenty of dark spot creams on the market these days. You’ll find drugstore knockoff brands that cost as little as a few dollars. Big-box chains like Sephora and Ulta also sell their own brands of over-the-counter dark spot creams. Some even contain ‘all-natural’ active ingredients to target dark spots and hyperpigmentation such as turmeric.
Yet the best dark spot correctors are available via a dermatologist’s prescription. These treatments are customized based on each person’s skin type. The amount of any given active ingredient depends on the patient’s needs.
This means that your skin won’t get dried out or over-brightened because of too much of an active ingredient in a one-size-fits-all cream.
Nightly Defense cream by Rory is a moisturizing lotion that contains brightening ingredients such as niacinamide or azelaic acid to reduce the appearance of dark spots. It helps exfoliate your derm throughout the night so your pores won’t get clogged with sebum, debris, and sweat by morning.
This treatment is completely customizable. Simply fill out an online questionnaire and answer questions about your health and skin history to get your prescription. A dermatologist will review your records and write a personalized prescription.
Ingredients in Nightly Defense include:
Magnesium ascorbyl phosphate (vitamin C)
This night cream treats fine lines and wrinkles, age spots, clogged pores, acne, breakouts, skin texture, inflammation, redness, dryness, and dullness.
Neck and Chest Cream
Musely’s Neck and Chest Cream is packed with antioxidants to help repair and protect collagen proteins. It brightens skin, smooths fine lines and wrinkles, and breaks up clusters of pigment. The cream improves the texture of the skin while hydrating and shrinking pore size.
Basically, this cream can correct most neck skin issues. It’s completely customizable and only available via dermatologist prescription.
Neck and Chest Cream contains the following ingredients:
Tretinoin increases collagen production, hydroquinone breaks up melanosomes to clear up dark spots, niacinamide hydrates the skin and reduces pore size, and hyaluronic acid reduces fine lines and wrinkles.
Skin Regeneration Set
Musely’s Skin Regeneration Set is an all-over face care system that targets most of the conditions plaguing aging skin, including:
Crepey skin/thin skin
Fine lines and wrinkles
It comes with a cleanser, daytime moisturizer, and nighttime face cream.
Musely’s Night Cream contains the active ingredients tretinoin, hyaluronic acid, and niacinamide. It treats fine lines, wrinkles, and sun damage (including dark spots). It comes in three strengths including gentle (0.025% active ingredients), balanced (0.05% active ingredients), and veteran (0.10% active ingredients).
Like most prescription day creams, this cream protects the skin from the sun and replenishes the hydration that tretinoin may diminish during the night. Musely’s Day Cream contains SPF 50.
A gentle cleanser is a must when it comes to treating spots and wrinkles. This cleanser removes dirt, debris, and sebum without drying out the skin.
Dark Spot Treatment
If you really want to attack dark spots before they worsen, Musely’s Dark Spot Treatment has got you covered. This rapid age spot treatment will get you to your ‘aha’ moment faster, removing dark marks and regenerating skin cells through a boost in collagen production.
This brightening serum and fade cream contain tretinoin (prescription vitamin A that is known to be more effective than retinol) and azelaic acid for exfoliation.
A dermatologist will determine the best customized formula for your skin. You’ll be prescribed one of the following four formulations:
Erase is the most aggressive dark spot cream and treats pigments and melasma.
Nurture is generally prescribed for skin upkeep and managing sunspot-prone skin.
HQ Free+ doesn’t contain hydroquinone, so it’s optimal for patients that are sensitive to hydroquinone or can’t use it.
M+ was specially formulated to break up pigmentation in stubborn spots.
If you suffer from dark spots on your neck, chest, or face, you may want to opt for prescription skincare treatments, such as dark spot cream. These creams can break up pigmentation in spots and contain sunscreen with SPF to ensure spots don’t return. Both Musely and Rory have dermatologists on hand to write personalized prescriptions of dark spot cream.