Most of us are looking to improve and even out our skin tone. Even if you take good care of your skin, your skin is likely to fluctuate in tone, especially as you age.
Environmental aggressors like exposure to the sun and free radical damage can exacerbate an uneven complexion. So if you have been searching high and low for answers about enhancing your complexion, we are here to help.
We have curated a guide on how to get an even skin tone. Here are some best practices to even out your skin tone and improve your overall complexion and a few of our favorite product recommendations to add to your skincare routine.
What Causes an Uneven Skin Tone?
From acne scarring and sunburns to genetics and skin conditions, your skin discolors for many reasons. Here are some common causes for an uneven complexion:
Sunlight exposes your skin to ultraviolet radiation. If you don’t use sunscreen regularly, your skin will start to produce more melanin or skin pigment, which can cause sun spots, also called hyperpigmentation, after prolonged and repeated exposure.
Sunlight can also darken spots and scars already present and accelerate your skin’s aging process.
Scars take their place on your skin’s surface after healing from a disturbance in the barrier. While scarring is natural and perfectly healthy, the result may be unsightly and disrupt your skin tone.
Most types of scarring create an uneven skin tone by creating darker skin on the injured area.
Whether you are taking hormone therapy or hormonal birth control or are experiencing an imbalance in hormones due to pregnancy or menstruation, increased hormones can cause a fluctuation in skin tone.
Topical products may help reduce the appearance of discoloration. Still, you must consult your doctor to address the underlying cause if you believe hormones may be to blame for your dark spots.
How Can You Get an Even Skin Tone?
1. Cleanse Your Face Properly
Washing your face is vital for maintaining an even skin tone.
Blemishes and breakouts are generally caused by or exacerbated by product build-up and the excess of dirt and oil. These breakouts can cause scarring and discoloration, and cleansing your face properly can help you clear away impurities and keep breakouts from appearing in the first place.
For clear skin, aim to wash skin twice daily - morning and night. Depending on your skin type — normal, dry, oily, or combination skin — you may need a specific kind of face wash, but you should typically use a gentle cleanser in your morning and evening skincare routines. First, cleanse your face for at least 30 seconds with lukewarm water.
2. Protect Your Skin From Sun Exposure
Damage from exposure to sunlight is one of the leading causes of irregularities in skin tone. UV rays can darken the appearance of existing blemishes or dark spots and cause new ones to populate. UV ray damage can also lead to sunburn and increased signs of aging, like age spots and wrinkles.
Wearing broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 every day is imperative to preserving your skin tone and overall health. Make sure to reapply it every two hours if you're spending a lot of time outside or after heavy sweating.
3. Perform Regular Exfoliation
Exfoliation clears your skin of dead skin cells, dirt, and oil that may be trapped in your pores — and because this buildup contributes to breakouts, proper exfoliation is vital when you’re hoping to achieve an even complexion.
Making exfoliation a consistent part of your skincare routine can help prevent build-up that leaves your skin dull and uneven. There are two types of exfoliation methods — mechanical and chemical.
Mechanical exfoliation requires physical intervention, like a cloth or scrub with granules or microbeads used to buff away dead skin cells. If you choose to exfoliate mechanically, use a gentle hand to avoid over-exfoliating, which may cause irritation or even create micro-tears on your skin’s surface. We recommend our Prep-N-Glow® Facial Wipes for dual-sided, gentle cleansing and exfoliating action.
Cleanse your face with the soft side to remove makeup, dirt, oil, and other impurities, then flip to the polishing micro-dots to brighten and exfoliate your skin. Our clean formula is enriched with hyaluronic acid, antioxidants, and minerals to make your skin radiate.
The other way to exfoliate your skin is through chemical exfoliation. Chemical exfoliators penetrate your skin and peel the layer of dead skin. The most common chemical exfoliants are alpha-hydroxy acids or AHAs, such as lactic acid, salicylic acid, retinoids, kojic acid, and glycolic acid.
Some chemical exfoliants are stronger than others, so it is usually best to ease your way into it. Start using a lower concentration once a week, and gradually work your way up to regular usage once you determine your skin’s tolerance level.
4. Incorporate Brightening Skincare Products
Products aimed at brightening your skin can help mitigate the appearance of discoloration, dark spots, and blemishes. Typically, products that contain the following ingredients help brighten your complexion and evening out the look of your skin tone:
- Vitamin C serum: Topical vitamin C formulated for skincare is often referred to as L-ascorbic acid. In this form, this antioxidant is a powerful agent that supports glowing skin and protects against environmental irritants. Vitamin C can be very potent, especially if your skin is sensitive, so always try a lower concentration, then gradually increase it as you figure out how well your skin takes it.
- Retinol: Retinol is a vitamin A derivative that is useful for fading the look of dark spots to help even out skin tone while supporting cell turnover. You can try prescription-grade derivatives like tretinoin if you need a more potent concentration.
Our favorite product for complexion restoration is the Super Vita-C Booster Serum. Aimed at brightening and correcting the skin tone with the power of vitamin C, niacinamide (vitamin B3), IonPlex®, and our proprietary blend, this clean formula reduces discoloration caused by blemishes and helps support the skin against future sun damage.
After you cleanse, massage the serum with your fingertips until fully absorbed. Then, apply your moisturizer and SPF.
5. Keep Your Skin Moisturized
Patches of dryness can be uncomfortable and may even be a culprit for discoloration.
Keeping your skin adequately moisturized seals in hydration and lends itself to product absorption while also supporting the integrity of your skin barrier — the perfect recipe for smooth and even-toned skin. Non-comedogenic moisturizers are best for moisturizing your dry skin without clogging your pores.
In conclusion, there are many different ways your skin can discolor, but all hope is not lost. Achieving an even skin tone on your face boils down to protecting your skin from sunlight damage, exfoliating regularly, keeping your skin moisturized, and incorporating the right products to maintain balance and evenness in skin tone.
Molecular and histological characterization of age spots | PMC
How To Safely Exfoliate at Home | AAD
Understanding Popular Skin Care Ingredients | Cleveland Clinic