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Best Dark Spot Creams of 2020

Which products are the biggest bang for your buck?

By Michelle Klein, SkinCareCop.com
For the past year, we’ve been asking our readers to submit their favorite products via email, Facebook and Twitter so we could review the top favorites for our annual Skin Care Roundup. We received hundreds of submissions in nearly every category from anti-aging creams to eyeliners. Thanks to our voting process, we were able to narrow down the top three contenders in each category. Our editors then went out and actually purchased these products so we could find the ones that were deserving of our Editor’s Choice Award. We tested each product for at least one month and considered every factor such as product effectiveness, customer service and refund policies. What we found was quite shocking – some products were truly miracles in a bottle where as others failed to live up to their manufacturers’ claims. This year, we’ve broken down our Skin Care Roundup into 12 parts.

Part 8: Dark Brown Spots

Skin lighteners have been around for decades, but these days more and more people are finding uses for these products to help with common skin conditions like age spots, acne scars and melasma. In the past, it was difficult to find high quality products and most manufacturers were using low grade hydroquinone in their formulas. Hydroquinone is known to reduce hyperpigmentation, but there are also many concerns regarding its safety. Fortunately, in the past few years, more natural alternatives have started to come up and itÂ’s now very easy to find high quality products from reputable brands. While we appreciate the industry’s push towards natural ingredients, it’s becoming more and more difficult to deceiver which ingredients actually work and which products live up to their claims. Some of the skin lightening ingredients we preferred were natural extracts such as arbutin, kojic acid, niacinamide (Vitamin B3) and bearberry. Most of these ingredients are tolerable by majority of skin types and don’t have the same side effects of hydroquinone. Skin Care Cop tested over a dozen products and found one worthy of our Editor’s Choice award. We also included a few runner-up products that were voted highly by our readers.

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Meladerm

By: Civant Skin Care


Rating: 4.6/5 (20698 votes cast)

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We tried numerous products, ranging from high end department store brands down to affordable over the counter creams. While we did find some products that stood out in one or two areas, only Meladerm by Civant Skin Care checked all of the boxes on our list. We considered many factors such as the quality of the finished product and also the customer service track record of the manufacturer. Meladerm by Civant Skin Care excelled in every category and was also voted highly by our readers.

Meladerm has been on the market for over 10 years, and in that time has established quite a reputation. Despite the long list of glowing reviews on the company’s website, what really compelled us to order was the unconditional money back guarantee. A product is only as good as the company behind it – so with this in mind, we sent Civant Skin Care a few email inquiries and fortunately they responded quickly and answered all of our questions with thorough responses. Additionally, we also liked the company’s commitment to using safe and natural ingredients as there are many dangerous products out there in the skin lightening market.

Bottom Line

Meladerm is one of the most popular skin lighteners on the market today. The formula was effective in our tests and contains a long laundry list of active ingredients. Overall, it appeared that most of Civant Skin Care's customers tend to be satisfied with the product. And for those unfortunate few that don't see noticeable results, the company will offer a refund within 30 days.

Product Details

  • Manufacturer - Civant Skin Care
  • Compatible with all skin types
  • 30-Day Money Back Guarantee
  • Strongest formula available over the counter
  • Suggested Price - $49.99 for 1.7 oz

Pros

  • Strongest formula available over-the-counter
  • Hydroquinone-free
  • Manufacturer offers a money back guarantee
  • Professionally tested for safety
  • Packaged in an airless dispenser preventing light and air from damaging cream
  • Results seen in a short period of time

Cons

  • Does not come in very large sizes
  • Sunblock has to be purchased separately
  • Currently only available online
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White Lucent Brightening Moisturizing Cream

By: Shiseido


Rating: 4.0/5 (17219 votes cast)

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Shiseido is a Japanese company and probably one of the oldest skin care companies out there. White Lucent consists of several products and replaced the popular UV White skincare line. We did not test every product in the White Lucent line but rather focused on the Brightening Moisturizing Cream since this is the one that really targets hyperpigmentation and was popular with our readers.

The White Lucent Brightening Moisturizing Cream consists of mostly natural extracts and was very well suited for individuals with sensitive skin types. While the cream has a rich feel, it goes on smoothly and almost provides a calming sensation to the skin. The Shiseido company is known for extremely high quality products so this one is no exception. It is easy to order online or through many big retailers like Sephora and Macy’s.

Bottom Line

While Lucent is one of the best selling product lines in Japan where skin lightening products are always in high demand. Shiseido is well known and reputable company known for luxurious products and luxurious prices. The White Lucent Brightening cream was easily one of the most expensive products in our tests, however it still proved to be very popular with our readers.

Product Details

  • Manufacturer - Shiseido
  • Sold in majority of retail stores
  • Part of the White Lucent product line
  • Suggested Price - $59.50 for 1.7 oz

Pros

  • Goes on smoothly
  • Highly moisturizing
  • Hydroquinone-free
  • Well established brand with long history
  • Easily available in many department stores
  • Suitable for sensitive skin types

Cons

  • Heavy consistency
  • Sunblock has to be purchased separately
  • More expensive than competitors
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Potent Botanical Skin Brightening Gel Complex

By: Peter Thomas Roth


Rating: 3.9/5 (19726 votes cast)

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The Peter Thomas Roth brand consists of over 100 products that target everything from acne to wrinkles. The company was launched in the early 90s and has gained a lot of popularity in the past few years. The brand is now sold through many online and retail distributors.

We really like gels when it comes to skin lightening products. The benefits of a gel is that it goes on much lighter than a cream and can often penetrate further into the skin. The Potent Botanical Skin Brightening Gel Complex not only has a very long name, but also a long list of active ingredients. Many of these actives are acids such as salicylic and azelaic which not only help with hyperpigmentation, but also with exfoliation of dead skin. The downside to acids is that sometimes they can be a bit irritating, especially on those with very sensitive skin types.

Bottom Line

The Potent Botanical Skin Brightening Gel Complex is a strong formula that consists of various acids and natural skin lightening ingredients. The formula penetrates well and helps with exfoliation, however it can also be drying and irritating to the skin for some individuals. The bottle comes in a 2.0 oz size which lasts a very long time since only a small amount is needed per application.

Product Details

  • Manufacturer - Peter Thomas Roth
  • Sold through many online retailers
  • Suggested Price - $44.99 for 2.0 oz

Pros

  • Contains many acids and active skin lightening ingredients
  • Hydroquinone-free
  • Penetrates deep into the skin
  • Small bottle lasts a long time

Cons

  • Does not come in very large sizes
  • Sunblock has to be purchased separately
  • Some acids can be aggravating to the skin
  • Contains alcohol which can be drying
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Nu Derm Clear Fx Skin Brightening Cream

By: Obagi


Rating: 3.7/5 (12045 votes cast)

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Obagi is a company that needs no introduction. The brand has been extremely popular with doctors and estheticians and is typically only sold through professionals. The reason for this is that the Obagi products contain higher concentrations of active ingredients than most over-the-counter brands. Some of the products in the Obagi line also use prescription ingredients which require the guidance of a professional.

Nu Derm Clear uses hydroquinone as its active ingredient. Typically we like to see natural alternatives, but in some cases hydroquinone can be effective for really stubborn pigmentation. Because hydroquinone has some associated side effects, it is highly advised to use it only under the care of a doctor. We found that the Nu Derm Clear was effective in treating really deep pigmentation, but many users also found the formula to be a bit harsh on their skin.

Bottom Line

Nu Derm Clear is part of the Obagi Nu Derm System which comes with additional products to help with hyperpigmentation. Because Nu Derm Clear uses hydroquinone, it is recommended for pigmentation that doesn't respond to natural ingredients like arbutin and kojic acid. We would suggest trying Nu Derm if you have had zero luck with other products and if you are under the supervision of a doctor.

Product Details

  • Manufacturer - Obagi
  • Sold only through professionals
  • Suggested Price - $74.95 for 2.0 oz

Pros

  • One of the strongest formulas available for stubborn hyperpigmentation
  • Penetrates deep into the skin

Cons

  • Uses hydroquionone which can cause side effects
  • Can be too strong for sensitive skin types
  • Fairly expensive for a small bottle
  • Has to be purchased and used under a doctor's supervision
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Discoloration Reversal Moisturizer

By: DDF


Rating: 3.5/5 (17924 votes cast)

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DDF makes some really high quality products for nearly every skin problem you can imagine. The brand was developed under the guidance of dermatologists and has established itself as a leader in the skin care industry. One of the things we liked the most about DDF was the dedication to great customer service. We found their online chat representatives to be extremely helpful and the customer policies to be very fair.

The Discoloration Reversal Moisturizer is one of four products in the DDF Hyperpigmentation line. The moisturizer uses natural ingredients such as niacinamide (another name for Vitamin B3) and various plant extracts to help target pigmentation in the skin. We found the formula to be extremely gentle and suitable for every day use. It comes in a nice metallic dispenser which protects the product from light and air contamination. Though we did like the way the product felt on the skin, we didn’t see any significant changes in the first 3 weeks of use. This product may be suitable for individuals that have very sensitive skin and can not tolerate stronger products.

Bottom Line

The Discoloration Reversal Moisturizer is a very gentle cream that can be applied daily without any adverse effects. However, due to it's gentle nature, it may also take longer to see significant results. It may also be necessary to use the other products in the Hyperpigmentation line to improve overall performance. We would recommend this product to individuals with very sensitive skin.

Product Details

  • Manufacturer - DDF
  • Sold through many online retailers
  • Suggested Price - $63.00 for 1.7oz

Pros

  • Contains natural ingredients
  • Hydroquinone-free
  • Very gentle and suitable for daily use

Cons

  • Does not come in very large sizes
  • Sunblock has to be purchased separately
  • Gentle formula takes longer to show results