The 6 Dark Spot Correctors That Deliver Results, According to Dermatologists

If only dark spots could be more like a pimple. If only, instead of casting annoying shadows across our cheeks and under our eyes, dark spots could follow in the footsteps of everyday blemishes and disappear after a short while. If this were the case, the dark spots wouldn't be persistent reminders of long-ago summers or even of family genes that could've skipped a generation. If only slight changes could be made. If only.

When we have a moment to think of all the reasons why our skin isn't perfect, it's normal to consider all the "if only" possibilities that could occur to get that flawless finish. And while acne and wrinkles have their fair share of woes, it can also feel as though there's no easy remedy for standard dark spots. Dark spots are caused by an irregularity in the skin's production of melanin, and they're often a reflection of circumstances that are out of our current control.

"Dark spots, or hyperpigmentation, are caused by sun exposure, age, hormones, and in rare cases, this condition may be reflected in skin cancer concerns," says Dr. Ronald Moy, an M.D. at MFC Dermatology and the founder of DNA Renewal.

Dr. Tanuj Nakra, a plastic surgeon and co-founder of AVYA Skincare, echoes Moy's definition of how dark spots occur, but both agree that all is not lost—you can make changes now that'll benefit your future self later. "The best way to manage a tendency for hyperpigmentation is to eat healthily, use sunscreen daily, and religiously apply a skincare regimen that is designed for treating pigmentation problems," Nakra adds.

And speaking of that skincare regimen, it may be the secret to seeing faster results. "There are numerous tried-and-true ingredients that stabilize the melanin pathway," Nakra continues. "These include retinol, which improves skin cell turnover. Also, vitamin C helps to regulate the melanin pathway leading to even tone. Niacinamide is another wonderful agent that reduces the skin cells ability to take up pigmentation."

We asked Nakra and Roy to describe the best dark spot correctors to buy when you're hoping to make them disappear. They note to be careful with hydroquinone or azelaic acid, which can cause irritations, and consider oral supplements containing polypodium, too. They also say that dark spot correctors should be applied after the skin has been cleaned for the best results. Read on to get their recommendations, and perhaps it'll help make that "if only" skin a reality before you know it.