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How To Achieve a More Even Skin Tone: 6 Tips

More even-looking skin is just a few steps away.
  • Cat Matta
May 28, 2024

One of the most popular questions dermatologists get asked is about “how to get rid of dark spots and patches.” These types of discolorations are extremely common, and tend to conflict with the desire to have healthy-looking, even skin. If how to get an even skin tone is a question you’ve ever wondered about yourself, we’re here to help. In this guide, we’re covering the causes of uneven skin tone and lifting the veil on how to get rid of dark spots. That includes sharing six skin-brightening ingredients to look out for and six tips to help you get the most out of your even skin pigmentation efforts.

Inarticle How To Even Skin Tone

What Causes an Uneven Skin Tone?

There are a number of causes of uneven skin, including environmental factors, hormones, genetics, and certain skin conditions. What’s to blame often depends on the type of discoloration you have (i.e., dark spots, light spots, rosacea, etc.)

Below, we’re digging in a little deeper into typical causes of uneven skin tone.

  • Environmental factors: Any type of injury to the skin can cause discoloration to develop. It can be the result of many different things, from sun damage, cuts, and burns to insect bites.
  • Some skin conditions: Dark spots can also be caused by skin conditions that disrupt the skin’s protective barrier, such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis.
  • Hormones: Changes in hormonal levels, such as during pregnancy, can cause darkened patches of skin known as melasma.
  • Genetics: You may have noticed that some darker spots of skin, like freckles, run in families. That’s good ol’ genetics, which frequently causes them to pop up on the face and arms.

What Ingredients Help You Get a More Even Skin Tone?

If you’ve been searching the internet for how to get rid of dark spots, or how to get rid of an uneven skin tone, however you phrase it, you’ve probably been bombarded by a plethora of products promising to help even skin pigmentation. But, as we all probably know by now, results on the web can often be misleading. The truth is, there aren’t any magic solutions. But using products with ingredients known to support even-looking skin can certainly help.

To help us parse out which skincare ingredients can truly answer the question of how to even out skin tone, we turned to the Cleveland Clinic. Ahead, find six ingredients research shows can help reduce the appearance of discoloration for an overall more even-looking tone.

Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs)

There’s a reason AHAs—like glycolic and lactic acid—have become popular skincare ingredients over the years. Their exfoliating action can help improve the appearance of dark spots and discoloration, as well as blemishes, enlarged pores, and fine lines and wrinkles. This is because they help remove dead skin cells to reveal the skin underneath. Added benefits of AHAs are that they can help unclog pores and hydrate your skin.

Beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs)

On the flip side, BHAs, such as salicylic acid, work similarly to help even skin tone on the face and body, especially on sun-damaged skin. They can also help keep blemish-prone skin visibly clear.

Kojic acid

Derived from a type of fungus, Kojic acid has skin-brightening properties that can be helpful in fading the look of dark spots and other discoloration.

L-ascorbic acid (a.k.a. vitamin C)

You may have come across L-ascorbic acid, more commonly known as vitamin C, in your research on how to even out skin tone. This is likely because it’s become well-known for its ability to help fade dark spots and boost radiance. But that’s not all: Vitamin C offers even more benefits. In addition to helping even skin tone, vitamin C may also help improve the appearance of dark under-eye circles and fine lines.

Niacinamide (a.k.a. vitamin B3)

Another multitasking skincare superstar is niacinamide, a form of vitamin B3 found in yeast and root vegetables. It can be used alone—or in combination with vitamin C—to help improve the look of dark spots and discolorations—including visible redness.

Niacinamide may also help enhance your skin barrier to help lock in moisture and protect your skin from pollutants and other irritants. It can help reduce the appearance of enlarged pores, too.

Retinol (a.k.a. vitamin A)

Retinol, a derivative of vitamin A, boasts multiple skin benefits, too. It can help on your quest to get a more even-looking skin tone by helping to improve the look of dark spots, mottled discoloration, and uneven texture. It’s also an anti-aging ingredient and can help boost hydration and smooth the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

6 Tips for a More Even Skin Tone

1. Daily sun protection

First and foremost, protecting your skin from the sun’s damaging rays is important for everyone, regardless of skin type or tone. But, when it comes to dark spots and an uneven complexion, it’s especially important. This is because sun damage can result in an uneven skin tone.

The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) advises to look for a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30 in order to protect against both types of UV rays (UVA and UVB). The AAD warns to not skip out on sunscreen, even on cloudy days, since up to 80% of UV rays can break through clouds. You’ll also want to avoid being outside during the sun’s peak hours (between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.), and seek shade if you do. Another option is to wear protective attire, such as a lightweight, long-sleeved shirt, pants, sunglasses that offer UV protection, and a wide-brimmed hat.

(Psst . . . We know how overwhelming it can be with myriad sunscreens to choose from. So, we thought it would be helpful to share three of our go-tos that fit the bill: L’Oréal Paris Bright Reveal Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Daily UV Lotion, L’Oréal Paris RevitaLift Triple Power Day Lotion SPF 30, and L’Oréal Paris Wrinkle Expert 55+ Age Defense Lotion SPF 30.)

2. Add vitamin C to your routine

While we’re fans of all the skin tone-evening ingredients above, if you’re looking to keep your skincare routine simple or minimal, you might want to reach for a product that combines the skin-brightening, anti-aging, antioxidant benefits of vitamin C with other uneven skin tone-fighting ingredients to pack the most punch. For a product that delivers just that, reach for L’Oréal Paris RevitaLift 12% Pure Vitamin C + E + Salicylic Acid Serum.

Formulated for all skin types and tones, this non-greasy, fast-absorbing serum blends 12% pure vitamin C with vitamin E and fellow skin-brightener salicylic acid. It tackles multiple issues that can contribute to an uneven skin tone and texture, from darkened areas of skin to enlarged pores and fine lines. In a clinical study validated by dermatologists, after a couple of months of use, skin looked 70% brighter, felt 83% smoother, and pores were 59% less visible.

3. Exfoliate regularly

We’ve already mentioned some exfoliating ingredients to help even out your skin tone and texture, but it’s important to note that there are two different kinds of exfoliants: chemical and physical. Chemical exfoliants rely on skincare acids to help slough off dead skin cells, unclog pores, and promote skin cell renewal. Physical exfoliants have the same goal, only they scrub the skin with semi-abrasive substances, like coffee or sugar scrubs.

For a chemical exfoliant, try L’Oréal Paris RevitaLift Derm Intensives 5 Percent Glycolic Acid Peeling Toner. This daily brightening skin toner, formulated with 5% pure glycolic acid and aloe vera, helps gently smooth skin texture and fade the look of dark spots. It leaves your skin feeling softer and visibly renewed with a healthy appearance in as little as one week. Plus, it’s safe for all skin tones and types, even sensitive ones.

4. Try other skin-brightening ingredients

Always check your product labels—or ask your dermatologist, if you're unsure—to see if ingredients are compatible, but once you have the go-ahead, try some of the other ingredients we highlighted to help even skin tone. These could include niacinamide, AHAs, and Kojic acid, or vitamin C and retinol.

Our L’Oréal Paris Bright Reveal 12% [Niacinamide + Amino Sulfonic + Ferulic Acid] Dark Spot Serum is a great way to add niacinamide to your routine. Formulated to help fade the appearance of all kinds of dark spots, like sun spots, age spots, and post-acne marks,* an uneven skin tone can start to look better in just one week. Lightweight and effective, yet gentle enough for all skin tones and types (sensitive ones too), upon using it for the first time, your skin will look instantly fresher and more radiant.

*In a clinical study over 12 weeks, expert grading of dark spots (age and sun spots) and post-acne marks.

5. Address dark under-eye circles

Even if you’ve had a restful snooze at night, dark under-eye circles and bags can make anyone look tired. Luckily, we have a couple of tricks up our sleeves that can help with uneven-looking skin around the eyes.

L’Oréal Paris RevitaLift Derm Intensives Revitalift Derm Intensives 1.5% Hyaluronic Acid + 1% Caffeine Eye Serum—with 1.5% hyaluronic acid and 1% caffeine—brightens the appearance of dark under-eye circles while also depuffing bags, replumping the skin around your eyes, and improving the look of crow’s feet. Bonus: Our unique triple roller steel ball applicator instantly cools skin and massages your eye area to reveal a more refreshed, well-rested, and depuffed appearance.

To help hide stubborn dark circles and bags in a flash, consider using L’Oréal Paris True Match Radiant Serum Concealer. Also formulated with hyaluronic acid and caffeine, 24 different skin tone shades provide medium coverage and 24-hour hydration to help visibly neutralize dark circles. Check out the before and afters below to see just how well it works to camouflage dark under-eyes.

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6. Keep your skin well-hydrated

Healthy-looking skin is well-hydrated skin—and the key to that is moisturizing. Maintaining proper skin hydration can improve its overall appearance, uneven skin tone included. Keep an eye on product labels for hydrating ingredients, like hyaluronic acid, for instance, which can be found in all types of skin hydrators—from serums and water-based moisturizers to heavier creams.

You’ll find it in L’Oréal Paris RevitaLift Derm Intensives 1.5% Pure Hyaluronic Acid Serum, our strongest hyaluronic acid formula. This lightweight, non-tacky, anti-aging serum douses your skin with hydration to completely moisturize it and leave a dewy glow in its wake. After one week, skin feels more elastic and firmer and looks more plump and youthful. With continued use, it also helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Stick with the same product line and follow it up with L’Oréal Paris RevitaLift Derm Intensives Micro Hyaluronic Acid + Ceramides Line-Plumping Water Cream. Non-greasy and fast-absorbing, your skin will soak up over 50% more moisture upon application. Formulated with both hyaluronic acid and three plump-locking ceramides, this lightweight cream visibly plumps skin and all types of fine lines in just two weeks, from your forehead and eye area to the corners of your mouth.

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