The complete guide to eliminating dark spots

The complete guide to eliminating dark spots

Istockphoto Image by: Istockphoto Author: Canadian Living


The complete guide to eliminating dark spots

What are dark spots?

“Dark spots, which are sometimes called freckles or lentigines, are areas of the skin where an excess amount of pigment has deposited itself in the upper layers of the skin,” says Dr. Paul Cohen, Director of the Rosedale Dermatology Centre in Toronto. “Patients of all ages complain about brown spots, from teenaged who don’t like their freckles to women in their 50s and 60s who are beginning to develop liver spots.”

Brown spots can surface for a wide swath of reasons, whether as a reaction to “sun-worshipping” (tsk-tsk), medications or certain diseases, explains Holly Sherrard, Education Manager at Dermalogica. Even pollution poses a threat to skin, she says, with recent studies indicating a “possible correlation between pigmentation spots on the skin and contact with pollutants in the air.”

At the same time, Sherrard stresses, not all dark spots are created equal. “Moles, freckles and birthmarks are hereditary and therefore not signs of damage or skin aging,” she says. Dr. Cohen agrees, adding, “Some people are just genetically programmed to develop dark spots, with or without excessive exposure to the sun.”

Can dark spots ever really be eliminated?

Regardless of the cause, a careful concoction of products and dermatological treatments can eliminate some dark spots for good, and fade others to near-oblivion.

“A bleaching product, often combined with a retin-A to boost potency, can help if spots are relatively faint,” explains Dr. Cohen. For darker spots, he suggests heading to your dermatologist’s office for specialized skincare treatments. “If you have dark spots over large areas of skin, your best bet is a laser treatment like intense pulse light therapy, fraxal lasers or photofacials,” he says. “Liquid nitrogen is effective for isolated brown spots, but it might leave behind pinkish or whitish discoloration. With laser treatments, there is more downtime, but also greater benefits.”

For some, the secret to brighter, blemish-free skin might lie at the bottom of a bottle. Dermalogica’s PowerBright TRx, a new line of skin-clearing lotions and masks, is a particularly promising innovation in the realm of dark spot correction. Chock-full of pigment-fighting peptides, soothing algae extract and hydrating hyaluronic acid, “PowerBright TRx contains a powerful combination of skin-brightening agents to safely control the melanin production process” while balancing skin tone and preserving the quality of the skin in the process, explains Sherrard.

Still, those with faded freckles are by no means completely in the clear. “Skin has a memory,” warns Dr. Cohen. “If you don’t use sunscreen religiously, those brown spots are going to come back—which means you’ve wasted time and money.”

What if those pesky dark spots just won't fade?

We suggest you learn to love them. Your dark spots might actually be trending! Revlon’s Global Artistic Director Gucci Westman has admitted to painting freckles onto celebrities’ faces before they hit the red carpet. And, hey, if Olivia Wilde can rock the look, surely you can, too.


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5 awesome dark spot correctors


This product not only works to fade existing dark spots—it also prevents future damage thanks to the inclusion of hexapeptide-2, an advanced skin-tightening peptide, which slams the breaks on pigment formation under the skin. To see results quickly, apply daily after cleansing, moisturizing and applying broad-spectrum sunscreen. Murad Rapid Age Spot and Pigment Lightening Serum, $63/30mL,

Image by: Canadian Living By: Sarah Feldman Source: Murad

5 awesome dark spot correctors

Masque Bar by Beauty Look

Even your skin tone while reducing the look of brown spots with this brightening sheet mask, which hydrates skin deeply upon first application, and works to eliminate the look of dark spots with repeated use. Leave this baby on your skin for 30 minutes before bed, and your co-workers are bound to ask why you're glowing the next morning. Masque Bar by Look Beauty Brightening Sheet Mask, $10 for 3 masks,

Image by: Canadian Living By: Sarah Feldman Source: Masque Bar by Beauty Look

5 awesome dark spot correctors


Gentle enough to use year round, this prescription-grade serum treats stubborn dark spots from the inside out to improve dark spots by 58% after 12 week's use. If your skin is sensitive, this product might be your secret to spot-free skin, as Clinique's formula is suitable for dry, reactive and acne-prone skin. Clinique Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector, $59/30mL,

Image by: Canadian Living By: Sarah Feldman Source: Clinique

5 awesome dark spot correctors


There's no sense in eliminating dark spots if you don't take steps to prevent them from forming in the first place. This lightweight, silky sunscreen from luxury brand Fresh relies on an exclusive brightening complex derived from peony and licorice root extracts to reduce and prevent the appearance of dark spots. Ripe with hyaluronic acid and vitamin C, this product not only protects against sun damage, but against wrinkles and environmental agressors, too. Fresh Peony Brightening UV Shield SPF 50+ PA++, $60/30mL,

Image by: Canadian Living By: Sarah Feldman Source: Fresh

5 awesome dark spot correctors


An active-blend of skin-brightening ingredients, Dermalogica's new Overnight Treatment Cream targets brown spots and hyperpigmentation while you sleep. So brighter, more even-toned skin is but a good night's snooze away. Dermalogica PowerBright TRx Pure Night Nourishing Overnight Treatment Cream, $100/50mL,

Image by: Canadian Living By: Sarah Feldman Source: Dermalogica


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The complete guide to eliminating dark spots