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It happened: Years of sunscreen neglect in your youth is coming back to bite you years later in the form of visible spots all over your face and body. While there's no way to undo the damage that's been done, you can reduce the appearance of age spots with a dedicated skincare routine of powerful products at home.
Read on for our picks of the best age spot removers for a more even, youthful-looking complexion.
Best Overall: Murad Rapid Age Spot Pigment Lightening Serum
We're calling this serum the next best thing to a prescription spot lightening serum. It boasts the highest concentration of hydroquinone available without a prescription to fade the look of dark spots, sun spots, age spots, and an uneven tone. Combine that with hexapeptide-2, a skin-brightening peptide that helps to further lighten spots and prevent the appearance of future damage, and you've got yourself a force to be reckoned with. Glycolic acid also makes a cameo to exfoliate dead skin cell buildup and allow active ingredients to penetrate more quickly.
Pro tip: Even the most potent skin lightening treatments can be counteracted by UV light, a proven dark spot trigger, so when you’re using this, apply it twice daily over your face, neck, and chest and follow immediately with sunscreen.
Best Budget: Paula’s Choice RESIST Triple-Action Dark Spot Eraser
This super-targeted treatment exfoliates to fade and smooth the texture of age spots on face and hands. Hydroquinone and glycolic acid work together to repair spots and revitalize the skin. Since it’s enriched with vitamin E and rosehip oil, too, it's a great option for dry skin types or those looking to lock in moisture.
You don’t have to treat it like a spot treatment—just spread a thin layer twice daily over areas with skin discoloration and the active ingredients will lift color from spots and smooth out skin in a matter of weeks.
Best Spot Treatment: Peter Thomas Roth Potent-C Targeted Spot Brightener
This dark spot treatment is powered by a whos-who of beauty editor favorite ingredients, including vitamin E, ferulic acid, and vitamin C. Gwennis (active algae extract) and angelys help reduce and brighten the look of dark spots by up to 75% while aloe and allantoin help soothe the appearance of skin.
Reviewers love how fast it works—most say they noticed a difference in the first couple of weeks, even though the recommended time to see results is around 12 weeks—and that they only have to apply it to the affected areas, letting them treat other skin concerns at the same time. It’s effective on any kind of discoloration, including acne scarring and other dark marks.
Speaking of acne scars, check out our guide to the best acne scar treatments available for purchase.
Best Serum: Skinceuticals Discoloration Defense
Prefer to stay away from hydroquinone to lighten your age spots? Look to this powerful serum formulated with kojic acid, tranexamic acid, and niacinamide to show stubborn brown patches who's boss. Need more convincing? In a 12-week clinical study, 81% of those studied found an improvement in the appearance of post-acne marks, and 60% found an improvement in the look of stubborn brown patches.
Best Moisturizer: Sunday Riley TIDAL Brightening Enzyme Water Cream
In addition to an overall brightening effect, this cream is beloved for its deeply moisturizing properties using powerful ingredients like alpha-arbutin, hyaluronic acid, and tamarind extract to bring you back to a fully youthful appearance in a surprisingly short amount of time. Apply to clean skin twice a day (along with sunscreen for protective measures) or over makeup for a late-in-the-day boost of moisture.
Best Peel: Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Daily Peel Pads
You’ll find this daily peel in every serious beauty girl’s arsenal since ultimately great-looking skin starts with stripping down the dead cells. As you’re treating dark spots and other signs of aging, an overall exfoliation treatment like this one will ensure that the treatments you’re using are penetrating your problem areas, so start with a clean slate. The patented two-step formula contains seven acids, including glycolic, salicylic, mandelic, lactic and citric acid, applied on two separate pads one after the other.