Out damned spot! When your complexion somehow produces a dark spot that not even concealer can color-correct, don't panic—you can get it to fade, but first, you'll need to figure out how it formed. "Hyperpigmentation in the skin comes from melanin. Sometimes too much is stimulated, and the pigment is found within the cell," explains dermatologist Patricia Wexler M.D.
"Sun spots do not go away by themselves, but DIY topical treatments at best will help fade the mark by possibly 50 percent." Post-acne marks, however, eventually do disappear on their own, but you can speed up the process with a salicylic or glycolic acid-infused scar fading product, like the Glycolix Elite Gly-Sal pads ($22; dermstore.com).
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Wexler also loves Clinique Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector ($50; sephora.com), which uses both glycolic and salicylic acids in conjunction with tumeric root, vitamin C, and rice bran in the formula, as well as the retinol and niacinamide-rich Spot Fix by Verso ($150; dermstore.com). Exfoliate regularly to slough away the dead skin cells, but don't overdo it as you could end up irritating your complexion.
If you aren't seeing results after a month of using the products, Wexler recommends heading to the dermatologist for a peel. "In-office peels may use combinations of multiple acids that include salicylic and glycolic acids at higher concentrations, and trichloroacetic acid. We may even add liquid retinol for cases of severe hyperpigmentation," she explains. Additional treatments like laser therapy or DermaSweeping may also be recommended, but regardless of the method you choose, the after-care process remains the same. Your dermatologist may give you a hydroquinone-infused product to prevent further spots from forming, and we recommend layering on the sunscreen or using SPF-infused makeup for extra insurance.