Best pigmentation cream to fade age spots and melasma

Lighten and improve uneven skin tone with the right pigmentation cream.

Pigmentation cream

by Eleanor Weaver |
Updated on

Hyperpigmentation is a common skin condition that can affect us all, especially as we get older. Apparent as patches of darkened skin, it's something you may feel self-conscious about, but fortunately, there is pigmentation cream available to buy to help improve its appearance. We spoke to the experts; Skin + Me Consultant Dermatologist, Dr Malvina Cunningham, and Award Winning Aesthetician and GP, Dr Ahmed El Muntasar. Using their knowledge, we've found the best pigmentation creams and serums to help fade those darkened areas and help your confidence glow.

Well, some of you may be wondering: what is hyperpigmentation? Dr Malvina says, "Hyperpigmentation is due to an increased amount of melanin produced within the skin that causes dark spots or patches to appear on the skin’s surface. It is a common problem and can be triggered by a number of underlying skin conditions."

Best pigmentation cream at a glance:

Editor's Choice: OSKIA Renaissance Brightlight - view on Oskia Skincare
Best for sensitive skin: La Roche-Posay Pigmentclar Anti Dark Spot Day Cream SPF30 - view on Boots
Best for a range of pigmentation causes: SkinCeuticals Discoloration Defense Serum - view on SkinCeuticals
Best budget pigmentation cream: Garnier 3.5% Vitamin C, Niacinamide, Salicylic Acid, Brightening and Anti Dark Spot Serum - view on Boots

According to Dr Ahmed, it can be both generalised (all over the body), or appear as localised pigmentation. "When it comes to localised pigmentation, this is the one that really affects people the most," says Dr Ahmed. "People think of skin cancer such as melanoma, it can be benign like Seborrheic keratosis, post-inflammatory such as after acne, eczema, or after certain medication."

There are three common hyperpigmentation causes: post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, Solar Lentigo and Melasma. Luckily, there are creams with proven active ingredients, which are either available on prescription or over the counter. From the best treatment for melasma on the face in the UK to skincare budget buys, we've searched high and low for the best pigmentation creams and serums to help you glow.

Best pigmentation cream

Editor's Choice

Price: £56.40 (was £94)

Award-winning and suitable for vegans, the OSKIA Renaissance Brightlight serum is an intensive daily treatment to help target hyperpigmentation. Containing a huge 13 brightening ingredients, including Vitamin C, fruit AHAs, Arbutin, and Niacinamide, it can increase your skin's radiance and even skin tone. It does this by slowing the process of melanin production and exfoliating away melanin that's already present on the skin. The formula is firm and gently scented with natural rose and chamomile for positively glowing results.

Customer review: "I have suffered from hyperpigmentation since my teenage years. I have tried countless products and this is the only one that I have found that is truly able to tackle my irregular patches. It seems to work at a deep level, yet is not harsh on the skin. It is lightweight, smells beautiful, and provides a nice glow. Absolutely recommend."


  • Beautiful texture
  • Packed with proven ingredients
  • Vegan, targets pigmentation as well as fine lines


  • Some weren't a fan of the scent

Best for daily dosage

This pigmentation repair cream from Skin + Me is full of antioxidants and moisture to care for your skin's barrier. With Azelaic Acid, the cream fights pigmentation caused by sun damage, melasma, and acne. If you're looking to prevent hyperpigmentation from scarring, the antioxidant will also help to fight inflammation, and redness, and soothe spots caused by acne and rosacea.

Customer review: "I recommend Skin+Me to anyone who is struggling with scars, pigmentation, or even uneven skin."


  • Contains evidence-based ingredients
  • No monthly commitment
  • Easy to apply, daily dose


  • You won't get access to prescription-strength ingredients or personalised advice. If this is what you'd prefer, we'd recommend their monthly treatment plan instead

Best for sensitive skin

La Roche-Posay is a fantastic brand with products specifically formulated for sensitive skin. So it's no surprise they have an excellent pigmentation cream. Having been through rigorous dermatological testing, the skin-tone correcting moisturiser contains Silicone pearl to blur uneven skin tone and SPF30 to protect skin from producing more dark spots.
It's also enriched with PhE-Resorcinol, LHA, Niacinamide, Ferulic Acid, and Ginkgo. These active ingredients help to lighten the skin and reduce inflammation.

Customer review: "I am 36 years old, my skin is dry / combination and I have slight sun discolouration. My freckles blotch in summer. I bought this cream as a winter sunscreen. But after about 2 weeks of use, I noticed a huge difference on my skin! All my pigmentation marks started to disappear, my skin was more even in tone. My complexion was moisturized and radiant. I believe that this cream goes well with my makeup and does not clog pores.

"I would recommend this product to anyone with pigmentation and I think it will help people with blemishes. It works magically and at the same time is very gentle on the skin."


  • The minimalist formula is good for those with sensitive skin
  • Suitable for all skin types, contains SPF


  • Some found it made their skin look a little oily

Best for a range of pigmentation causes

Suitable for all skin types, SkinCeuticals pigmentation serum has been proven to reduce the appearance of discolouration on the skin. Featuring a blend of anti-pigment and exfoliating ingredients, it can target a range of dark spots; those caused by hyperpigmentation, post-blemish scarring, and stubborn age spots. The active ingredient Tranexamic Acid helps to brighten dark spots and slow the production of melanin and Niacinamide helps to minimise uneven skin tone. Hydroxyethylpiperazine Ethane Sulfonic Acid provides that exfoliation to remove dead skin cells.

Customer review: "This is SO good. I've suffered from post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) on my upper lip for 3.5 years, caused by prior years of clearly not using enough sunscreen, which was then worsened by a chemical peel that made it even darker! I have tried so many anti-pigment treatments (plus suncream of course) but most of them irritated my skin, therefore making the PIH worse. I've been using this product for 3 weeks & my skin is almost starting to look like how it was before the condition happened! I'm literally in awe!"


  • High-potency formula
  • Surprisingly light and gentle on the skin
  • Non-sticky consistency


  • Some found results took a long time

Best for quick results

With a potent, hydrating formula, Kiehl's dark spot solution visibly brightens the skin to help diminish the appearance of those dark spots and areas of pigmentation. Dermatologically tested for its gentleness on all skin types, the clinical test on 113 subjects over 12 weeks found double the reduction in dark spots. The Salicylic Acid helps to reduce blemishes and the Activated C specifically addresses uneven skin tone. It helps to make the skin more radiant and target hyperpigmentation, including Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH) and Post-Inflammatory Erythema.

Customer review: "I really didn’t go into this product with much hope for my sun spots, but after about 3 weeks of using this serum, I felt like they actually seemed faded. After 6 months (plus the addition of a retinoid), the difference is HUGE! I love the way this serum sits on my skin, too. It’s not greasy and has a very nice light scent."


  • Most reviewers saw quick and effective results
  • Suitable for all skin types
  • A little goes a long way


  • Some found it stopped working as effectively after prolonged use

Best budget pigmentation cream

Much like Kiehl's formula, Garnier's contains active ingredients Vitamin C, Niacinamide, and Salicylic Acid but for a fraction of the price. Suitable for all skin types and tones, the serum has promising benefits, such as helping to brighten and hydrate their skin and reduce the appearance of dark spots. The formula also comes enriched with Lemon Extract. This powerful superfood and antioxidant enhance the potent mix by helping to brighten your complexion.

Customer review: "Never thought anything (except surgery) would reduce my dark spots caused by the sun in my youth, but after 4/5 weeks I really have noticed enough of a reduction that I can happily live with. Gently scented and not sticky, thank you, Garnier."


  • Light and non-greasy formula
  • Great value, vegan-friendly
  • Nice scent, and good absorption


  • Some found it great for brightening but not as effective on dark spots

Best for all skin tones

Not only does the Murad correcting serum help to treat the most stubborn dark spots, but it also uses antioxidant resorcinol that helps prevent the look of sun spots and discolouration for a more even skin tone in the future. Murad's patented resorcinol technology reduces the intense appearance of dark spots and promotes surface cell turnover for a brightened complexion. It claims that you can see rapidly reduced pigmentation in just 14 days on all skin tones.

Customer review: "At first I was very sceptical if this is really going to work! But Wow! It has got rid of my dark spots and Melasma. I am 40 years old, and since I had my last baby in summer I got a lot of pigmentation and dark spots. This has really lightened my skin. I also suffer from acne, so the glycolic acid makes sure it doesn’t block my pores. I will recommend this product. Especially with Asian skin."


  • Suitable for all skin types and tones
  • Reviewers experienced quick and effective results
  • Silky texture, great absorption


  • Some suggested using in combination with a moisturiser for a better outcome

Best for future-proofing

This gel from PCA Skin is a dermatologically tested corrective to fade the size and intensity of dark spots in as early as four weeks. Whether it's UV-induced or hormonally-induced hyperpigmentation, the formula uses their SynerPro Complex technology to inhibit melanin production and fade stubborn dark spots. Not to mention, it also helps to protect against the appearance of new dark spots too. Apply on your face, neck, arms, or hands.


  • Suitable for all skin types and tones
  • Can fade and prevent hyperpigmentation, light texture


  • No customer reviews

Best for face melasma

Melasma treatment cream contains Azelaic Acid which is an antioxidant, fighting inflammation, reducing redness and soothing spots caused by acne and rosacea. It helps to fight pigmentation caused by sun damage, melasma and acne. This Skin + Me formula provides four weeks worth of nightly cream, packed with antioxidants and moisturing properties to look after your skin barrier.

Customer review: "I recommend Skin+Me to anyone who is struggling with scars, pigmentation, or even uneven skin."


  • Contains evidence-based ingredients
  • No monthly commitment
  • Easy to apply, daily dose


  • You won't get access to prescription-strength ingredients or personalised advice. If this is what you'd prefer, we'd recommend their monthly treatment plan instead.

Best pigmentation sun cream

Wearing a high SPF is recommended for preventing sunlight exposure from triggering more dark patches. The Eucerin Sun Fluid Pigment Control SPF50 is an everyday facial sunscreen for all skin types that's non-comedogenic and suitable for wearing under makeup. It uses UVA/UVB filters with Licochalcone A to neutralise free radicals caused by UV light, while Glycyrrhetinic Acid supports your skin's own DNA repair mechanism. Each of Eucerin's products includes Thiamidol, a patented ingredient that reduces melanin production to reduce hyperpigmentation.

Customer review: "I am a dark skinned black woman and I almost feel like this was made for girls like me. This spf leaves zero grey residue, which is so important for me and motivates me to use my spf every day. After some time in the sun, I notice a beautiful golden glow that i'm very happy to credit this sunscreen for. No other sunscreen has allowed me to tan (yes, I'm a dark skin girl who loves a little tan hehe) in this way. And I can definitely say it helps alleviate my hyperpigmentation gradually. The formula is not heavy or greasy. It melts right into the skin and works well on top of my moisturiser. I am in love. And I highly recommend."


  • Contains SPF50+ to prevent re-appearance
  • Smooth consistency, absorbs quickly
  • Light texture


  • It does include fragrance which may not be suitable for sensitive skin

Pigmentation FAQs

What causes uneven pigmentation?

There are three common hyperpigmentation causes:

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH)

"Post Inflammatory hyperpigmentation results from acne that heals to leave red to brown marks on the skin," says Dr Malvina. "Picking at spots and sun exposure will further worsen the inflammatory process and increase the risk of pigmentation. Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is much more common in darker skin types. Melasma presents as brown/greyish patches of mottled pigmentation that develop most commonly on the skin of females. The pigmentary changes are usually bilateral and often symmetrical."

Solar Lentigo

Also known as 'sun spots' or 'age spots', this pigmentation is caused by sun exposure.

"Solar lentigo (sun spots) appear as flat brown spots on the skin like enlarged freckles," shared Dr Malvina, "mostly found over sun-exposed areas such as the nose, cheeks, and temples but they can appear anywhere on the face as well as your chest and the back of the hands.

"While most sunspots are harmless they may occasionally change into precancerous or even cancerous lesions. If you notice a spot that stands out compared to others with an irregular shape, varied colours or changing size, go and see your GP to have it checked out."


According to Dr Malvina, "The exact cause of melasma is as yet unknown, but we do know that hormones and ultraviolet (UV) light (from the sun's rays) play an important role."

©Getty Images

What to look for in the best pigmentation cream

"Look out for creams with proven active ingredients", says Dr Malvina. "Hydroquinone is a lightening agent that has the best evidence for treating hyperpigmentation. This is available on prescription as a combination cream with the vitamin A derivative tretinoin as well as a mild steroid called hydrocortisone."

In terms of ingredients in pigmentation creams available over the counter, Dr Malvina and Dr Ahmed recommend:

Azelaic acid
Kojic acid

When asked about the best vitamins for pigmentation, both recommended Vitamin C.

"There is insufficient evidence," says Dr Malvina, "but some suggest that Vitamin C supplementation particularly if low can be helpful but it is usually recommended in combination with topical treatments."

How to prevent hyperpigmentation?

"One of the most common causes of hyperpigmentation is UV exposure from the sun which you can prevent through sun avoidance, wearing protective clothing, and liberal use of broad-spectrum sunscreens," says Dr Malvina, something Dr Ahmend echoes.

He says, "The best prevention is using high-grade SPF, using SPF50 at least, and something that protects you from UVA, UVB and also thinking of things that can protect you from blue light. There isn't a lot of research to support that it can cause pigmentation but I think just logically we are in front of screens so much these days you wonder whether research later on in life will show it can actually cause pigmentation."

However, says Dr Malvina, "Hyperpigmentation caused by inflammatory conditions such as acne should be prevented by treating the condition itself."

Can I remove hyperpigmentation completely?

Dr Malvina says, "This varies from person to person and depends on the severity of pigmentation. Hyperpigmentation does tend to fade in the winter in most but active ingredients can further improve this process."

"I think of it like a chronic condition," says Dr Ahmed, "as you might not see signs of pigmentation but under the skin it might still be there. I think of it like someone with diabetes, for example. Your numbers might be under control but actually the second you start eating sweets, or something you shouldn't be. It's similar to pigmentation and being in the sun it will come back. So you might not see it on the outside but under the skin and in your body it's still there."

Meet the experts:

This article contains expert advice from Dr Ahmed El Muntasar and Dr Malvina Cunningham. Dr Ahmed is an award winning aesthetics doctor in the UK. He provides safe and advanced non-surgical treatments for both men and women, alongside personalised, patient centred and expert care. Dr Malvina is a Skin + Me Consultant Dermatologist. Malvina graduated with honours from University College London, and was awarded a PhD in medicine. She trained in Dermatology at London’s leading teaching hospitals, and now specialises in acne, skincare and medical dermatology for both the NHS and the private sector.

Eleanor Weaver is the Deputy Homes & Garden Product Editor for Yours, specialising in home décor, furnishings and appliances. Having worked commercially on Yours magazine and for the past six years, she's previously hosted Yours Live events and loves looking for home inspiration online.

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