Looking for a Skin Lightening Treatment? Here are 9 of the Best

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Need a way to fade dark marks or balance out an uneven skin tone? Do a quick online search and you’ll see that you have plenty of options.

From skin lightening products that you can use at home to cosmetic procedures that produce dramatic results, there are so many ways to achieve the flawless skin you’ve been seeking.

However, the big question is: which treatment/s should you choose? Which one would be best for the type of hyperpigmentation that you’re dealing with, as well as for your budget? That’s where we come in – read on as we discuss the most effective skin lightening treatment options available.


Why Are Skin Lightening Treatments Necessary?

A skin doctor explaining a beauty procedure

Dark marks and patches on the skin are usually a cosmetic issue, but there’s no denying how a discolored and dull skin tone can make you look so much older.

This is what skin lightening treatments aim to fix.

Some target existing areas of discoloration by breaking up the clusters of excess melanin in the skin, which is the pigment responsible for your darker skin tone.

Others take things a step further by also inhibiting further melanin production, which prevents new dark spots from forming.

Either way, if you’re dealing with acne scars/marks, melasma, dark spots caused by sun damage, or any other type of hyperpigmentation, a good skin lightening treatment will give you an even skin tone that looks bright, clear, and healthy.

The Best Skin Lightening Treatments: 9 Ways to Lighten Discoloration

Ready to kiss goodbye to those dark spots on your skin? Here are nine effective methods to help you do just that:

OTC Skincare Products With Lightening Ingredients Improve Face Skin Tone & Offer Other Benefits Too

One of the easiest ways to achieve bright and healthy skin is by investing in a few skin lightening products. Ideally, you want to look for formulas that both treat and prevent dark spots.

How do you know if a product is capable of doing this? It’s easy – simply take a look at that product’s ingredient list. There are certain ingredients out there that are revered for being powerful skin lighteners that also prevent excess melanin production, which is exactly what you need for a light, natural tone.

Some of our favorite skin brighteners are:

  • Kojic acid
  • Arbutin
  • Azelaic acid
  • Licorice root extract
  • Mulberry extract
  • Alpha hydroxy acids, particularly glycolic acid and lactic acid
  • Vitamin C

Your skin lightening results will be even more impressive if you find a formula that combines a few of those above ingredients.

A set of OTC skincare products

Hydroquinone Can Reduce Hyperpigmentation & Acne Blemishes (But Comes With Side Effects)

One ingredient that you may spot in skin lightening products is hydroquinone. This is one of the most popular bleaching agents out there, producing initial results in just four weeks. It’s great for all types of discoloration, including post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

However, there’s a downside. Hydroquinone is known for causing harsh side effects, including redness, irritation, burning, and stinging, to the point where some countries have actually banned its use [1]. That said, unless you have extremely sensitive skin, all other skin types should adapt to the ingredient relatively quickly if you introduce it slowly.

Prescription Skincare Works Fast at Lightening Dark Spots & Excess Pigment

If your hyperpigmentation is particularly stubborn and is refusing to respond to OTC products, then speaking to your doctor about prescription skin lightening creams would be a good next step.

These usually contain a high dose of hydroquinone or corticosteroids, both of which have powerful skin brightening and lightening effects.

Try Glutathione Injections & Pills

Gluta iv drip procedure

Glutathione is a potent antioxidant that has been shown to not only lighten the skin but also improve skin elasticity and reduce wrinkles [2].

While there are a few creams available that contain glutathione, the best way to use the ingredient to target dark spots on the skin is through injections or pills. Injections usually produce faster and longer-lasting results, with the effects of skin lightening being visible in just three weeks.

Chemical Peels at a Professional Clinic Offer Great Results for Age Spots & Melasma

A chemical peel is great for targeting just about every type of hyperpigmentation. Chemical peels work in a similar way to exfoliation, by removing the top layer of skin that contains discolored cells.

While at-home peels are available, a professional chemical peel is more effective because it will contain a higher concentration of peeling acids. That said, the more powerful your peel, the longer your downtime afterward.

RELATED: Does Azelaic Acid Lighten Skin

At-Home DIY Remedies Can Be Great for Brightening the Complexion

Skin lightening products and treatments can be costly. If you’re on a tight budget, then you may want to look into DIY remedies instead.

There are so many ingredients that you probably already have in your kitchen cupboard that can help with hyperpigmentation, as well as other skin problems.

Family bonding on skincare and whitening

Some of the best ingredients to incorporate into DIY skin lightening treatments are:

  • Lemon juice
  • Honey
  • Baking soda
  • Turmeric
  • Yogurt
  • Aloe vera gel
  • Apple cider vinegar

A Full Body Laser Skin Whitening Procedure Will Boost Skin Fairness From Head to Toe

Also known as skin resurfacing, laser treatments make use of a concentrated light beam to either remove the outer layer of skin cells (similar to a chemical peel) or to target and damage the cells responsible for the over-production of melanin. As a result, this skin lightening procedure is one of the best for permanent effects.

The only thing that puts some people off from picking laser treatments as their skin whitening method is the downtime. It can take a couple of weeks for your skin to recover, and you’ll most likely experience a few side effects during this time.

IPL Therapy Offers Permanent Before and After Results (But Isn’t Suitable for Black Skin)

IPL therapy, which stands for intense pulsed light, is another skin whitening treatment that offers permanent results. Also known as a photofacial, this is a type of laser treatment that makes use of a fractional laser to stimulate collagen production in the skin.

It takes several sessions for this skin lightening treatment to produce results. However, in addition to evening out the skin tone, this skin whitening treatment also reduces the appearance of wrinkles and enlarged pores.

Unfortunately, IPL treatments aren’t suitable for people with a darker skin tone.

Don’t Forget to Wear Sunscreen to Minimize Melanin Production & Keep Your Skin Bright

Happy boy with sunscreen on his nose

Although not technically a lightening treatment, we had to mention this on our list. Sun exposure is one of the biggest triggers of dark spots and hyperpigmentation. Each time your skin is exposed to the sun, UV rays trigger melanin production, meaning that your skin tone ends up darker, as do any dark patches that are already on your skin.

If you want your lightening treatments to actually work, then you’ll need to be diligent about protecting your skin from sun damage. Usually, an SPF 30 sunscreen is enough to do this, but since your skin may be a little more photosensitive depending on the skin brightening treatment you’ve chosen, you may wish to opt for a formula with a higher SPF rating.

What About Prices? How Much Does Skin Bleaching Cost in the USA?

The cost of skin lightening cosmetic procedures varies greatly depending on where in the world you live, as well as which treatment/s you decide to go for.

However, as a rough guideline, you can expect to fork out between $200 and $500 per laser treatment in the USA. The larger the area of skin being treated, the more expensive the procedure will be.

Skin brightening products are much cheaper, which is why many opt to try these first before investing in cosmetic treatment.

RELATED: Best Skin Lightening Soap

How Do I Find the Best Doctor or Spa for Skin Bleaching Near Me?

If you’ve decided that cosmetic procedures are the best way forward for you, make sure that you choose a reputable spa or clinic. Look for a specialist that makes use of FDA-approved treatments – one that’s willing to put together a full treatment plan for you.

Make sure that you go for a consultation first, so that you know exactly what’s involved in your chosen treatment. Don’t be afraid to ask plenty of questions – the answers that you get will tell you so much about how good that prospective med spa is.


Woman on her skincare whitening routine

Q: Which treatment is best for skin lightening?

Laser resurfacing procedures and chemical peels are the best treatments for skin lightening.

Q: How can I lighten my skin permanently?

Laser treatments and IPL therapy can permanently lighten the skin.

Q: What can dermatologist do to lighten skin?

A dermatologist can prescribe skin lightening products that are more powerful than OTC formulas.

Q: What type of laser is good for dark skin?

Fraxel lasers are safe for dark skin.

Q: How can I make my hands permanently white?

A combination of DIY remedies, over-the-counter skincare products, and professional treatments can make your hands permanently white.

Q: What do dermatologists prescribe to lighten skin?

To lighten skin, dermatologists usually prescribe hydroquinone or corticosteroids.

Q: What laser treatment is best for brown spots on face?

Laser resurfacing is best for brown spots on the face.

Q: Is there a surgery for lightening freckles?

Although not a surgery, lasers can be used to remove freckles.

Q: I have dark underarms – is there a cream to help with this?

Underarm pigmentation can be frustrating to deal with, but there are several lightening creams out there that can help to bring about a fairer skin tone.

Q: How do I lighten the skin on my foot?

Professional treatments will help to lighten the skin on your feet. Alternatively, apply lightening products to your feet each day.

Conclusion: Choosing the Best Skin Lightening Treatment for You

As you can see, there are so many ingredients, products, and treatments out there that can help you to achieve a lighter and more balanced skin tone. Even better, some of these will also target fine lines and wrinkles too, leaving you looking smoother than ever.

That said, we’d recommend starting with over-the-counter and DIY lightening formulas. Stick with these for a few months to see if they work. If they aren’t having a noticeable effect, ask your dermatologist for advice about whether prescription creams or cosmetic procedures should be your next step.


[1] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352647520301416
[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7196133/

Avatar for Alina Jumabhoy
About Alina Jumabhoy

With almost 10 years of experience writing for the skincare industry, Alina brings her unique perspective into all of the in-depth reviews and articles she writes.