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Personal Care

Best Skin Lightener

Many people think that the only way to lighten skin is with hydroquinone, which is often used in combination with 2 percent salicylic acid. However, there are many skin lightening creams and gels to help reduce the appearance of sun damage, age spots, freckles, hyperpigmentation, acne scars and more that don’t utilize hydroquinone because some people feel that the long-term effects of this substance is still unknown. These five skin lightening products that don’t contain hydroquinone were chosen because they received high ratings from beauty and skin experts, and also contain natural ingredients for even more skin benefits like exfoliation, moisturization and protecting skin's elasticity. Also, the key to reducing future dark spots is to wear sunscreen on a daily basis.

Meladerm Skin Whitening/lightening Uneven Skin Tone

Released by Civant Skin Care in 2003, Meladerm is this well-known skin care brand's most trusted and powerful skin lightening product, created with cutting-edge technology and powerful natural ingredients. Not only is it hydroquinone free, but it's also free of parabens, mercury or steroids which are commonly found in skin lightening products. It's easily one of the strongest over-the-counter formulas, and the manufacturers offer a money back guarantee if you aren't happy with it. The only downside is that the bottle is small and it is currently only available online.

Clinique Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector

Clinique's Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector is a product I've used for years for my acne scars and hyperpigmentation as well. This product is really effective on lingering acne scars; daily application will likely yield noticeable results in two to four weeks, and a verified 58 percent improvement in 12 weeks. The specialized ingredients break apart surface darkening and exfoliate it away for a more even complexion. And because it’s Clinique, you know it’s safe and gentle, which is important since you're trying to clear your skin up, not break out some more. However, those with oily skin may see increased breakouts if used on a daily basis.

SkinCeuticals Pigment Regulator Daily High Potency Brightening Treatment

The trusted skin care brand SkinCeuticals makes one of my favorites product for reducing the appearance of my acne scars and hyperpigmentation from the sun: the SkinCeuticals Pigment Regulator. This product uses natural botanicals that aren't as harsh as their chemical bleaching counterparts, a.k.a hydroquinone, to effectively minimize sun spots, age spots, freckles, scars and more. Kojic acid and emblica are the active ingredients, that actually attack the melanin pigment clusters on the surface of the skin.

Makari Caviar Face Lightening Cream

This hydrating formula/skin lightening cream is ideal for dry, thirsty skin. First, an ultra-rich brightening moisturizer nourishes skin while diminishing the appearance of visible spots, dullness, and discolorations. The formula is called "caviar" because that's what it is: it is created with caviar extracts to improve skin's texture, encourage cell growth, and balance the skin's pH. It also has a great fresh scent. The only downside is the price, $50, and that it's recommended you use the product twice a day, which can result in it running out quickly.

Avon Banishing Cream Skin Discoloration Improver

Avon has been known as a trusted beauty and skin brand for years, and this skin lightening cream is definitely a great pick for those on a budget--it's under $10. It's light, non-greasy and moisturizing, and uses Avon's own brightening formula as well as botanicals and vitamin E. You will start to notice a significant difference in the depth of your scars or dark spots on your face within a month. It isn't as strong as some of the other brands that cost much more, but with regular use you will definitely see a difference.

Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 15

I used this daily moisturizer for a long time, so I can attest that it definitely helps improve your skin tone and texture, and reduces the appearance of your sun or age spots, acne scares and more. It uses a soy complex and natural light diffusers to brighten your complexion and bring out your skin's natural radiance. The only reason I stopped using it is because it is best for those with normal skin types. It didn't moisturize my dry patches enough, and then it would cause my oily spots to break out more. It improves your radiance factor though within a week. It’s oil free, hypoallergenic and noncomedogenic. The only downside is the fact that it works best with normal skin, and it is a thicker cream.

Olay Professional Pro-X Even Skin Tone Spot Fading Treatment

Designed by a team of dermatologists and genomics experts, Pro-X Tone Correcting Protocol treats 5 root causes of uneven skin tone to visibly restore even color for smoother, brighter skin. The micro beads exfoliates and hydrates areas, and a 60-day guarantee is provided, so if you don't see a big difference you can get your money back. This is particularly effective on acne scars and for those who constantly suffer from acne, because it isn't too harsh on your skin. All you need is tiny drop once a day (after your shower or before bedtime), and within two weeks users noticed a significant difference in the color of scars, discolorations, and hyper pigmentation. Also, the smell isn't overpowering and it won't cause you to break out. Plus, can also have the peace of mind knowing it's from Olay, a highly trusted skin care brand.

Almay Smart Shade CC Cream Complexion Corrector

There are several benefits to gain from Almay's complexion corrector. On one side, it's a silky cream that enhances your complexion's radiance, evens skin tone, prevents future damage with an SPF 3, and corrects discolorations. On the other hand, it is also a smart shade lightweight foundation. This means that it provides smooth airy coverage, covering your imperfections flawlessly until the cream's formula corrects them for you. It comes in three shades: light, light/medium and medium, and after you apply the CC cream it formulates to match to your skin tone. It also hydrates and promotes luminosity for a smooth soft complexion.

Neutrogena Rapid Tone Repair Night Moisturizer

The trusted skin care brand Neutrogena offers a remedy for all your skin problems: discoloration, acne scars, sun spots, and uneven tone. The intense, fast-acting moisturizer is proven to improve the appearance and texture of your skin in just one week. And since the product is only around $20, that's quote a solution. In fact, I used this product one about a week and a half, and I noticed a big difference in my small dark acne scars.The accelerated retinol SA is combined with a booster ingredient that increases skin's surface activity to help smooth wrinkles and diminish the look of age spots. On top of that, Vitamin C helps diffuse uneven skin tone. Use two pumps every night. The only downfall is that the product runs out quickly.

Vitamin C + Illuminating Anti-Age BB-cream SPF 20

This product combines the power of pure natural seed oil from arctic cloudberry, lingonberry and vitamin C to create a multi-benefit beauty cream that works like skincare, but acts like lightweight makeup. Think of it as you time freeze anti-age cream. It has six daily benefits for you skin: protects against aging with SPF 20, hydrates like a moisturizer, covers imperfections like a foundation, evens skin tone, nourishes, and illuminates. It's rich in essential fatty acids and antioxidants to help heal and protect skin, and it's also long-wear so you can count on it all day long. Plus, it's under $20.

Clinique Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector

Clinique's Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector is a product I've used for years for my acne scars and hyperpigmentation as well. This product is really effective on lingering acne scars; daily application will likely yield noticeable results in two to four weeks, and a verified 58 percent improvement in 12 weeks. The specialized ingredients break apart surface darkening and exfoliate it away for a more even complexion. And because it’s Clinique, you know it’s safe and gentle, which is important since you're trying to clear your skin up, not break out some more. However, those with oily skin may see increased breakouts if used on a daily basis.

Shiseido Bio-Performance Advanced Super Revitalizing Cream

This may be one of the most expensive lightening products on the market — priced around $100 — but users rave about how it hydrates and energizes skin while evening skin tone at the same time. Shiseido Bio-Performance Advanced Super Revitalizer Cream combines an advanced-technology moisturizer with a powerful extraordinary brightening agent for a silky smooth feeling. It greatly minimizes old acne scars, hyperpigmentation and sun spots to make skin appear even and supple, while simultaneously fighting aging and future sun damage. For those with major spots to be lightened on the face, this product is well worth the investment.

OBAGI Nu-Derm Clear

Obagi is a trusted skin care brand, so it's no surprise that users have rave reviews about the Nu-Derm Clear product line. It is rated to make skin look younger, clearer and smoother, and many users say they don't even use foundation or make-up coverage at all anymore because their complexions evened out so much. It works best on dark patches from sun damage, melasma spots and acne scars, as well as rough skin, redness, sallowness (yellowing), and fine lines, and using an anti-aging therapy formula that penetrates below the skin's surface to transform the skin cell functions at the cellular level and correct the damage that way. After 12 weeks, users saw a 50 percent improvement in their skin. The main problem is that there are several Nu-Derm Clear products formulated for all types of skin, so it's best to get consultation to see which one works best for you.

Avon Anew Rejuvenate Day Revitalizing Cream SPF 25

Avon Anew Revitalizing Cream contains mini-extraction technology, exo-smoothing complex, and revitafresh technology to visibly shrink pores and make skin fresher, younger, smoother and more even-toned. In just two weeks users saw a major change in skin tone and texture, and after 12 weeks a 26 percent improvement. It's literally a "pick-me-up" for your skin, providing a way to lighten up those pesky age spots, splotchiness, discloration and acne scars without being too heavy. Plus, it smells amazing, stays put all day as a reliable facial SPF product, and doesn't make skin too oily like some other creams.

Paula's Choice Resist Pure Radiance Skin Brightening Treatment

This treatment serum is silky and light, and instantly illuminates skin for a radiant appearance and helps prevent acne breakouts. On top of that, it lightens brown spots, sun damage, tan, brown or red marks from acne, and reduces fine lines and wrinkles. It is formulated with a blend of vitamins and antioxidant plant extracts, like mulberry and licorice, that naturally help lighten these discolorations, and is 100 percent fragrance free with no added dyes. The only downside is that it works best on dry, normal and combination skins--if used with oily skin types it increases the chances of break-outs. Only small dabs are needed as well, so at around $27 the product lasts a long time.

Lauren Wise
Over the past 10 years, I have held such titles as Managing Editor at the international Runway magazine (yes, like in "The Devil Wears Prada", and Editor at Where Phoenix+Scottsdale magazine, Where Denver magazine, and Where Tucson magazine. At all of these publications, I routinely reviewed new beauty, style and fashion products on the market, as well as sampled hundreds of brands. I love organic products with as little additives as possible, and absolutely cannot live without my philosophy shampoos (an Arizona beauty brand, of course), Burt's Bees night face cream, Sally Hansen magnetic nail polishes, Obagi toner and Elta|MD face sunscreen. I stay up-to-date on the newest beauty and health products in order to provide a better way of life for myself and readers with products that range from simple and healthy to edgy and daring.
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