How To Treat Dark Spots & Other Types Of Skin Discoloration With These Key Products From Kiehl's

Breaking down what actually causes hyperpigmentation and the hero ingredients and products to erase it.

Whether it’s hyperpigmentation, post-acne marks, or general dullness, skin discoloration is about as close as it gets to a universal experience. No skin type or tone is exempt, largely because dark spots are often caused or exacerbated by factors that everyone deals with — sunlight, hormones, inflammation, and breakouts. Fortunately, in the quest for #HealthySkinForAll, Kiehl's Since 1851 has the powerhouse ingredients needed to help. We’ve partnered with the beloved apothecary brand and Sephora to bring you the most effective ways to even out discoloration and get your glow on ASAP.

What actually causes dark spots?

Skin discoloration of all forms is basically excess melanin, or pigment, in your skin. As mentioned, factors like hormones and inflammation can cause your normal production of melanin to go into overdrive. This can lead to discrete dark spots (like the kinds that stick around after a stress breakout), overall unevenness, mottled patches, or general dullness.

There are types of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation that aren’t breakout-related, too; these can be caused by anything from a tiny cut to a mosquito bite. FYI, sunlight can make all of the above worse, which is why UV protection is a must when you’re trying to fade existing marks and prevent future spots.

Hero ingredient #1: Vitamin C

Dealing with discoloration requires a little strategy — in this case, that’s tackling excess pigment before and after it forms. Kiehl's Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution does just that with Activated C, a powerful vitamin C derivative.

Vitamin C has long been considered the gold standard for evening out skin tone, since it works to both defend against new marks and fade existing ones. As an antioxidant, it runs interference against free radicals created by sun and pollution, which damage collagen and, yes, cause dark spots. For hyperpigmentation in the works, it also inhibits one of the key enzymes involved in the production of excess melanin, essentially shutting it down. The Activated C in the Kiehl’s serum does that one better by actually targeting clusters of pigment.

Combined with buffered salicylic acid (which helps to further refine tone and texture), the Kiehl’s Activated C does a serious number on skin marks. After using one bottle, 97% of customers saw a visible reduction in both hyperpigmentation and dark spots, and 87% saw a visible reduction in post-acne spots. Intrigued? With the mini Kiehl's Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution, you can see the results for yourself before investing in the whole bottle. Simply smooth it on after cleansing and before your moisturizer.

Hero ingredient #2: Acids

For all-around brightening, it doesn’t get much better — or faster — than a concentrated dose of acids. While the Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution is ideal for daily treatment of dark spots old and new, the Kiehl’s Clearly Corrective Accelerated Clarity Renewing Ampoules are like a supercharged, 14-day crash course in even-toned skin. That makes them ideal whether you have a socially-distanced wedding in the works or just want to boost brightness for your next Zoom call.

Tiny but mighty, these ampoules pair the Activated C with a tri-acid blend. As you can probably guess from the name, the tri-acid blend is a combo of three acids: lactic, glycolic, and phytic. They work together to accelerate cell renewal, meaning they speed up the rate at which your skin naturally sheds dead, pigment-packed cells so it can push new, healthy cells to the surface.

The ampoule packaging also ensures you’re getting the freshest (and thus most potent) formula and optimal concentration with each and every application. Morning and night, just shake each vial before dispensing the entire contents into the palm of your hand. Then, gently apply it to clean, dry skin — and start the countdown to brighter, healthier-looking skin.

This post is sponsored by Sephora x Kiehl’s Since 1851.