Here's yet another reason you shouldn't underestimate the power of serum—these little bottles can act as magic erasers for dark spots. According to board-certified dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon Dr. Melanie Palm, this common skin concern is the result of "abnormal and high concentrations of melanin in the skin," which is often caused by stress from infrared light, visible light, and UV exposure, or in other words, prolonged time in the sun without SPF. "Too much of any of these sources of light causes cellular damage, and the regular and uniform production of pigmentation goes awry, creating uncontrolled, uneven overproduction of pigmentation in an area of skin," she says.
Luckily, when formulated with high concentrations of key brightening ingredients, serums can help fade these spots, and even make them totally disappear. When shopping for a serum that tackles dark spots, Dr. Palm says to look for two types of ingredients—skin brighteners, like licorice root, vitamin C, and niacinamide, as well as anti-inflammatories and antioxidants, like vitamin C, vitamin E, and green tea.
So to help you in your search, and your goal of evening out your skin tone, we rounded up six InStyle-approved formulas to shop now.
VIDEO: 5 Effective Serums for Under $25
1. Dr. Andrew Weil For Origins Mega-Bright Dark Spot Correcting Serum
Light and fast-absorbing, this skincare serum utilizes the power of rosa roxburghii, white peony, and licorice to brighten the skin tone, while fading any dark spots. The result? A glowier, even, and more radiant complexion.
Dr. Andrew Weil for Origins | $57
2. CLINIQUE Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector & Optimizer
What makes this serum unique (and honestly worth buying) is that it's packaged in a dual-chamber that then, once pumped, mixes together a brightening and soothing formula. The brightening ingredients tackle dark spots, while the soothing formula works to calm the skin from triggers that can cause discoloration in the skin.
Clinique | $80
3. Dr. Dennis Gross Ferulic Acid + Retinol Brightening Solution
If you want a dark spot-correcting serum with extra anti-aging power, this is your best bet. Dr. Dennis Gross' brightening serum is fused with antioxidant-rich ferulic acid and retinol to speed up cellular renewal, leaving you with a smoother, younger-looking canvas.
Dr. Dennis Gross | $88
4. La Roche-Posay Pigmentclar Serum
Not only does this serum even out your skin tone and fade dark spots, but it's also made with salicylic acid, which clears out pores from dirt, oil, and dead skin cells, making it less likely that you'll break out with a zit.
La Roche Posay | $53
5. ESTÉE LAUDER Enlighten Dark Spot Correcting Night Serum
Before bed, gently tap this cool and silky serum into your skin. It targets concerns like dark spots, uneven skin tone, and even redness while you sleep—and reviewers are hooked. It's received over 4,000 "hearts" on Sephora, and according to the brand's tests 77 percent of those who tested it saw an improvement in dark spots in just one month.
Estee Lauder | $96
6. MURAD Rapid Age Spot and Pigment Lightening Serum
A combo of skin brightening ingredients in this tiny (but powerful) bottle fade dark spots and address hyper-pigmentation, while a bonus of glycolic acid gently exfoliates to promote a smoother, clearer complexion.
Murad | $69