An uneven skin tone is a normal part of having skin as it changes and grows as we do. Dark spots, dark circles, under-eye bags and other skin concerns are all signs of an uneven complexion, and while it may feel like an even skin tone is out of reach, there is a remedy. Improve your skin tone with the right cocktail of ingredients and products as part of a skin care routine that’ll target these skin concerns for a clearer complexion.
Below, we’re giving you the lowdown on how to even skin tone using some of our skin care favorites (hint: you’re going to want a product with niacinamide). Plus, we’re throwing in a step-by-step routine for concealing an uneven skin tone using makeup.
What Causes Uneven Skin Tone?
An uneven skin tone refers to any area on the face that has dark spots or discoloration. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), skin pigmentation concerns can be caused by sun damage, genetics and other external environmental factors. Picking at blemishes that turn into dark spots, lounging outside without sunscreen and being genetically prone to hyperpigmentation can cause an uneven complexion. While factors like hyperpigmentation require more specific medical attention from a dermatologist, things like dark spots and acne marks can be reduced with the right products.
What Ingredients Are Best for Uneven Skin Tone?
Skin-loving ingredients like niacinamide and glycolic acid are ideal for evening skin tones because of their individual brightening and smoothing abilities. According to a study in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, niacinamide is a form of the antioxidant vitamin B3 which is known to help improve the skin's barrier and texture by adding moisture to it. Alpha hydroxy acids like glycolic acid and kojic acid are also known to fade dark spots by exfoliating the barrier, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
How to Even Skin Tone
A clear, even complexion is possible with the right skin care products and steps in your routine. If you’re looking to even out your skin tone with skin care, follow these five tips.
1. Keep Your Skin Clean
In skin care there are two cardinal rules that we actively recommend (and follow ourselves). Always wash your face and always wear sunscreen. The former is one of the easiest ways to get an even skin tone by starting your daily routine with a cleansing session to remove impurities and excess oils from the skin, as well as eliminating the chance of buildup — which can result in a dull and uneven complexion.
Kick off your routine with a gentle cleanser like the L’Oréal Paris Radiant Smoothing Cream Cleanser which is specially formulated to nourish skin as it removes oil buildup, grime and other impurities.
2. Exfoliate Uneven Skin Regularly
As previously noted, dead skin cells can build up on your skin over time, which can result in the appearance of an uneven skin tone. While daily cleansing will target these impurities, go the extra measure by regularly exfoliating. You can exfoliate skin through a physical system that includes small beads to scrub your skin or through the popular chemical process that uses acid-based ingredients to promote dead skin cell renewal, per the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD).
There’s no need to use a dedicated exfoliating product with many cleansers and toners containing exfoliating ingredients. If you’re looking for fewer steps in a skin care routine, try an exfoliating cleanser that combines two steps in one. We recommend the L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Bright Reveal Brightening Daily Scrub Cleanser, which contains micro-pearls and glycolic acid to gently buff away dead skin for a brighter, renewed skin tone.
3. Disguise Dark Circles
Having dark circles is a very common (and normal) cause of uneven skin tone. According to the Cleveland Clinic, while dark circles are known signs of dehydration and lack of sleep, it’s also regularly linked to genetics and aging. While bothersome, the appearance of under-eye circles can be reduced with a dedicated skin care item (eye cream and eye serum, we’re looking at you).
Smooth on the L’Oréal Paris Revitalift 1.5% Hyaluronic Acid + 1% Caffeine Eye Serum, which will help reduce crow’s feet, brighten dark circles and depuff your eyes. Plus, with the cooling stainless steel applicator, you’re giving your eyes a relaxing massage every time you apply it.
Healthy skin doesn’t end with a skin care routine, it’s also about taking care of your body so don’t forget to stay hydrated and get more sleep if your dark circles worsen.
4. Combat Discoloration
Aside from dark circles, dark spots and dull skin are also forms of discoloration and an uneven skin tone. Applying a face serum formulated with one of the ingredients we mentioned previously, can help target these concerns.
Use a serum like the L’Oréal Paris Bright Reveal 12% [Niacinamide + Amino Sulfonic + Ferulic Acid] Dark Spot Serum, which gently exfoliates surface-level skin cells while reducing the appearance of dark circles. After one week of use, you’ll notice brighter skin with faded dark spots and after two weeks skin will start to look clearer, providing you a more even skin tone.
You can also use a product with glycolic acid that’ll target discoloration. Try the L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives 10% Pure Glycolic Acid Serum which reduces the appearance of dark spots and wrinkles over time, leaving you with a visibly more even skin tone. Not to mention, it helps to renew the skin, keeping those dead skin cells out of sight.
5. Finish With Broad-Spectrum Sunscreen
Don’t forget this step no matter your skin concern. Sunscreen protects your skin from the sun’s dangerous UVA and UVB rays that cause damage to your skin. You’ll want to protect your skin from the physical pain and irritation of sunburn, but also the long-term effects of photoaging that can make skin prematurely age, per the Cleveland Clinic, that promotes an uneven skin tone.
Protect your skin from uneven skin tone (and life-threatening cancers) by using a broad-spectrum SPF. We love L’Oréal Paris Bright Reveal Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Daily UV Lotion for its lightweight finish that won’t clog pores or leave visible residue on skin. It also includes vitamin C and vitamin E to further protect your skin from environmental damage.
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How to Hide An Uneven Skin Tone With Makeup
As with any skin concern, you can always use makeup to temporarily cover uneven skin tone. If you’re looking to add another trick to your arsenal, keep reading for a step-by-step makeup routine that’ll conceal any skin blemish and uneven tone.
1. Prep With Primer
The first step to getting even-looking skin with makeup is applying primer. The right primer can help create an even base for the rest of your makeup, and help prevent your makeup from fading throughout the day. Try the L’Oréal Paris Prime Lab Up to 24H Dullness Reducer which is formulated with niacinamide to brighten dull skin instantly. After you’ve completed your skin care routine and applied sunscreen with your go-to face SPF, apply an even layer of primer over your face.
2. Add the Right Color Corrector
Once you’ve primed your skin, survey your face for any imperfections you’d like to cover — such as redness, dullness, under-eye bags, acne marks or puffiness. Of course, you’re perfectly gorgeous in the skin you’re in — but if you’d like to cover up specific areas of your face, now’s the time to reach for color-correcting concealers. Pick the shade you need depending on your skin tone and what you’re covering. We recommend the L’Oréal Paris True Match Color-Correcting Crayon for its soft, blendable lightweight texture that doesn’t cake on the skin and its pastel colors that neutralize uneven skin tone without leaving behind a bright unnatural hue.
Generally, the color-correcting rules are as follows: Green color corrector helps neutralize redness like blemishes or blotchiness, yellow masks purple areas such as broken capillaries or age spots and peach, pink and orange help disguise bluish spots like dark circles and dark spots. These color pairs are complementary to each other, meaning they balance each other out for a more neutralized base, ensuring the tones appear more even to your natural complexion.
3. Apply a Buildable Foundation
The key to achieving even-looking skin with makeup is to use a buildable foundation to customize your coverage. This way, you can go as sheer or as heavy as you’d like in certain areas. It’s crucial here that you choose the correct shade of foundation to match your natural skin tone. L’Oréal Paris True Match Super Blendable Foundation comes in 47 shades that match your skin tone and your skin’s undertone (warm, neutral, or cool) for a true-to-skin result.
If you prefer a powder formula, reach for the L’Oréal Paris Infallible Up to 24H Fresh Wear in a Powder which offers a matte finish, buildable coverage, and a lightweight feel. You can pick from 20 waterproof shades that are transfer-resistant so you don’t have to worry about product clumping or smearing and revealing an uneven skin tone.
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4. Conceal Any Remaining Spots
After applying your foundation, go back and cover any remaining imperfections with a concealer that blends with your skin tone and texture. Again, reach for a buildable formula, such as the L’Oréal Paris Infallible Full Wear Concealer up to 24H Full Coverage, which comes with a built-in sponge applicator for precise coverage. Apply your concealer, then use a makeup blender or fingers to tap the product into the skin for an airbrushed look.
5. Lock in Your Look With Setting Spray
Now that you’ve achieved an even skin tone with makeup, you’ll want to seal it all in. Spritz your skin with a makeup setting spray, like the L’Oréal Paris Infallible Pro-Spray & Set Makeup Extender Setting Spray, to complete your look. Shake the bottle then close your eyes and spray it four to six times (holding the bottle eight to ten inches away from your face) for a just-applied makeup look that
Addressing an uneven skin tone is possible with the right skin care routine. And (as always) consistency with how often you complete your routine will help you achieve the appearance of a more even skin tone.
Photographer: Stephanie Price, Photo Assistant: Thomas Miller, Digi Tech: Sergio Colon, Art Director: Hannah Packer, Creative Producer: Becca Solovay, Content Director: Shalwah Evans, Visual Designer: Sarah Duvivier, Makeup Artist: Kelly Bellevue, Hair Stylist: Akihisa Yamaguchi, Wardrobe Stylist: Rika Watanabe, Wardrobe Assistant: Fausti, Model: Anastasia Offutt
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