Beauty/Skin/Serums & Treatments
Top 10 Drugstore Dark Spot Correctors

Introducing 10 Dark Spot-Fading Products That Actually Work—Starting At Just $5

One of the most talked-about and seemingly unavoidable beauty concerns is, without a doubt, dark spots. They come in different shades and sizes, but when they do arrive, it’s almost impossible to unsee them. But before discussing the best dark spot treatments, it’s important to understand exactly what dark spots are and why they show up.

A dark spot, also known as hyperpigmentation, age spots, or liver spots, typically looks like teeny circles or, for lack of better words, blobs on the skin; like a freckle but slightly bigger. The good news is that they are, for the most part, harmless, unless tied to a more serious skin condition. In that case, a visit to the dermatologist should happen ASAP. Otherwise, it’s a purely cosmetic disturbance resulting from too much sun exposure, scarring left from acne or skin injury, or picking at the skin. 

Getting rid of dark spots requires a level of consistency not necessarily needed for other skincare issues. Not only must they be treated with something that will fade them, but that formula must also be deeply penetrative and highly effective. It also needs to be applied the same way everyday—or however often the product calls for—and alongside other products that won’t disturb its efficacy, which, in turn, won’t take away from the expected results. 

Luckily, the best dark spot remover for the face isn’t locked away in some top-secret chamber only accessible by shoppers with celebrity status. Because dark spots are such a universal skincare challenge, some of the best dark spot treatments can be found at the drugstore, where pricing is down to earth but results can still look out of this world.

Fading away dark spots is best done with the help of ingredients that cleanse, exfoliate, and/or brighten at a concentration high enough to be the same complexion as the rest of the skin. It’s also important to keep the area moisturized and protected by sunscreen, since some skincare solutions, like chemical acids, can sensitize the face.

How We Found The Best Affordable Dark Spot Removers

This list represents the best-reviewed, over-the-counter creams for dark spots on the face, all of which have been rigorously vetted by Rank & Style’s proprietary algorithm. Each product is scored and ranked according to a spectrum of shopping data, including social media buzz, notable mentions in publications, industry insider recommendations, expert commentary, and more. Here are the all-stars that speak to various skin tones, skin goals, and more.

Next up, check out the 10 Best Brightening Face Serums. 

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October 8, 2020

Words:Rank & Style

Product Expert:Georgia Jones

Top 10 Lists serve as unbiased shopping guides to the most trusted product recommendations on the internet. Products are scored and ranked using an algorithm backed by data consumers find most valuable when making a purchase. We are reader-supported and may earn a commission when you shop through our links.

The Rankings


Ambi Fade Cream

Our Score4.25

WHY IT MADE THE LIST: A favorite of oily skin types, this oil-free face cream targets dark spots with a formula that includes hydroquinone, a dermatologist-approved ingredient for lightening dark spots. It also improves skin texture with alpha hydroxy acids that exfoliate the top layer of skin, as well as softening vitamin E.

QUICK TIP: Be sure to stop using this treatment once the dark spots have cleared. 

La Roche-Posay Glycolic B5 Dark Spot Corrector

Our Score4.3

WHY IT MADE THE LIST: This dermatologist-approved and allergy-tested serum is an exfoliating powerhouse that tackles hyperpigmentation and a dull complexion. The glycolic and lipo-hydroxy acids provide gentle exfoliation to even out the skin tone, while the kojic acid focuses on improving brightness.

SOMETHING ELSE TO KNOW: This can be used alone or mixed with a moisturizer. 

Naturium Niacinamide Face Serum 12% Plus Zinc 2%

Our Score4.35

WHY IT MADE THE LIST: This nature-first serum combines naturally derived and consciously made synthetic ingredients to address a handful of common issues, including dark spots. Its star ingredient is niacinamide, a stable form of vitamin B3 known for balancing skin tone and reducing the appearance of fine lines.

SOMETHING ELSE TO KNOW: It’s also a godsend for curing excessive dryness, as the formula is enriched with hyaluronic acid, which draws moisture into the skin.

RoC Brightening Anti-Aging Serum With Vitamin C

Our Score4.45

WHY IT MADE THE LIST: For the most stubborn dark spots, a formula boosted by vitamin C is especially helpful. Not only will it improve skin tone and texture, but it will also provide protection against free radicals, which play a part in causing skin blemishes.

SOMETHING ELSE TO KNOW: Be mindful of using this with other products in your routine, especially retinol. While both can be used, they shouldn’t be layered on top of one another. It’s best to use one during the day and the other at night, or alternate the days you use each one.

L'Oreal Revitalift Glycolic Acid Serum

Our Score4.45

WHY IT MADE THE LIST: This product is 10% glycolic acid, which by most standards, is a pretty hefty amount of chemical acid for a face serum. Thankfully, it's been formulated with soothing aloe, so it can provide intense exfoliation without irritating the skin. 

SOMETHING ELSE TO KNOW: The formula is also free of fragrance, dye, and parabens to make it even safer for sensitive skin types.

Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Retinol Oil Serum

Our Score4.5

WHY IT MADE THE LIST: Retinol, a derivative of vitamin A, is another widely known ingredient that can fade dark spots since it exfoliates and accelerates cell turnover. This .3% retinol oil does just that, and because it’s an oil, it's also nourishing for excessively dry skin. 

SOMETHING ELSE TO KNOW: According to reviews, it also does an amazing job of decreasing redness and softening fine lines.

CeraVe Vitamin C Serum With Hyaluronic Acid

Our Score4.7

WHY IT MADE THE LIST: If texture isn’t an issue but uneven skin tone and dark spots are, then this formula is sure to impress. It’s 10% L-Ascorbic acid, the purest form of vitamin C, which means the skin will brighten and get protection against future blemishes. 

SOMETHING ELSE TO KNOW: The formula is also boosted by moisturizing and barrier-strengthening hyaluronic acid.

TruSkin Naturals Vitamin C Serum

Our Score4.7

WHY IT MADE THE LIST: Vitamin C is a powerhouse skin brightener and skin protector whose benefits are only magnified when combined with complementary ingredients. In the case of this top-selling serum, they include nourishing hyaluronic acid and vitamin E, antibacterial witch hazel, and soothing aloe. 

USER REVIEW: “The results are unbelievable. I was a bit skeptical because all the reviews were from Caucasian women. I was slightly worried that my skin would not respond as well, but I was quite mistaken. With or without makeup, my skin is bright and smooth, and my spots are disappearing."

Cruelty free

Cruelty Free

Tree Of Life Vitamin C Serum

Our Score4.75

WHY IT MADE THE LIST: Here’s a water-based, scientist-developed serum that delivers vitamin C to the skin via water, moisturizing glycerin, and aloe leaf juice. The result is not only brighter skin free of hyperpigmentation, but skin that feels smoother too. 

SOMETHING ELSE TO KNOW: It’s important to note that 30-60 days of consistent use is required to see results. 

Bio-Oil Skincare Oil

Our Score4.85

WHY IT MADE THE LIST: From reducing stretch marks to reducing dark spots to reducing dryness, Bio-Oil is that tried-and-true body moisturizer that does it all. The multi-use oil is enriched with multiple floral extracts, including lavender and calendula, that are brightening and anti-inflammatory.

USER REVIEW: “I bought this a few years after having my son. I had a ton of stretch marks on my lower abdomen. I have used this now for about four months, and I can honestly say I'm EXTREMELY impressed! My stretch marks are about 75-80% gone! Even my sister was like, “No way!” I don't post about beauty products often, but this one is worth a five-star review. It's working, and my belly is starting to look amazing again!” 

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