How to fade dark spots


How to fade dark spots

When it comes to trying to fade those pesky post-acne spots, I’ve tried everything you can imagine. Creams, lotions, scrubs, peels, derma rollers, serums, you name it.

At one point, I spent about $200.00 on a bottle of serum which I read about in Allure magazine. It was supposed to be an amazing product that brings quick and mind-blowing results (the article was written by a renowned NYC dermatologist). After I finished the entire bottle, I noticed absolutely no difference in the appearance of my dark marks. That was when I finally decided that instead of wasting money on products that sound too good to be true, I’ll try doing some research.

Rather than looking at what the product promises, I started paying closer attention to active ingredients and rather than relying on one particular product to solve my “spot” problem, I used a few that worked together: Chemical exfoliants, Vitamin C treatments, and retinol. Unfortunately, having acne-prone skin means that you’re either in the process of trying to clear up your skin, keep it under control, or dealing with hyperpigmentation. At one point my skin was really horrible, so horrible that it would literally stop me from leaving the house. The thing about acne is that once you finally get rid of it, you’re often left with scarring and in my case, it was A LOT of scarring.

I’ve been going through this cycle for a few years now and I have a few trusted products that never fail to disappoint me when it comes to dealing with those dark spots. In this particular post, I’ll talk about post-acne marks, but all of these products also work nicely for fading age and sunspots.


While usually, post-acne marks fade over time (depending on severity) there are few things you can do to speed up the healing process. Probably one of the most important things that you can do is use sunscreen. Sun exposure will darken your marks and make them more visible and prominent, this is why it’s important to protect your skin against those UVA and UVB rays- even on a gloomy day. Prevention is always the best treatment and daily use of broad-spectrum sunscreen helps to prevent brown spots and skin discoloration.

If you want to find a good sunscreen for your face,  check out this article. You should always use 1/4 teaspoon on your entire face, applying it AFTER your moisturizer. The earlier you start incorporating sunscreen into your skincare routine, the better, but it’s never too late to start. Use of sunscreen is especially important when using AHA/BHA or Vitamin C products (pretty much anything that helps fight hyperpigmentation, promotes skin-renewing- not wearing proper sun protection while using these products can leave your skin vulnerable and produce reverse results e.g. your acne scars will get darker, instead of getting lighter).


Products containing chemical exfoliants like BHA (salicylic acid) and AHA (glycolic acid) help fade dark spots by accelerating cell turnover and revealing brighter, radiant-looking skin. I personally love using exfoliating pads and have a few that have worked very well for me. My absolute favorite exfoliating pads are Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare’s Alpha Beta® Peel, Extra Strength Daily Peel (one). They are soaked in a formula containing Glycolic and Mandelic Acids and Willow Bark Extract (a natural alternative to Salicylic Acid). I’ve been using them for years and in addition to helping fade dark marks, they also help to keep my acne in check and always leave my skin feeling and looking smooth and radiant (they’re also great for anti-aging). I also have two budget-friendly alternatives: St. Ives Exfoliating pads (six- these have been sadly discontinued but I get them on amazon right here) formulated with lactic acid, AHAs, and Vitamin E and Nip + Fab Glycolic Fix pads (eight) formulated with glycolic and hyaluronic acids and blue daisy. Also worth mentioning is my favorite AHA moisturizer: 10% AHA. Containing 10% Glycolic acid means that it does tingle quite a bit, but it works like magic, fading dark spots within weeks of continued use.


Vitamin C helps build collagen and promotes your skin’s healing. Two of my favorite Vitamin C treatments are REN Flash Rinse 1-Minute Facial  (four) and Paula’s Choice 25% Vitamin C Spot Treatment (five) (you can still save 20% Paula’s Choice by December 31, 2015, find out how right here).


This form of Vitamin A is commonly used in over-the-counter skincare products- it is clinically proven to improve discoloration and age lines. Two retinol products I love (which are also great for anti-aging) are RoC Retinol Correction Cream (three) and Arcona Advanced A Serum (seven). If you find that over-the-counter retinol products don’t bring desired results, you can also talk to your dermatologist about prescription retinoid (like Retin-A). It’s much stronger than over-the-counter treatments, and it does take quite a while for your skin to get used to it (I’ve been on Retin-A since March and my skin is still a bit dry and irritated), but the results are well worth it. I find that prescription-strength retinoids also helps to keep my oiliness at bay.

I use every single product mentioned in this post and I absolutely love them!

Do you suffer from dark spots? What treatment did you find to be most effective?


  • Reply
    December 15, 2015 at 7:11 pm

    I have a bottle of sunscreen/ moisturizer in the bottom of my makeup bag! I should probably take it out again! :)

    Savannah x

  • Reply
    Miss Makeup Magpie
    December 15, 2015 at 7:51 pm

    I’m a massive fan of the Nip & Fab pads – they work wonders on my skin! xx ❤️

  • Reply
    Kristina Wilde
    December 15, 2015 at 9:11 pm

    You seriously come up with the most clever titles and blog post. SUCH an inspiration babe, really! xo
    Kristina Wilde

  • Reply
    December 15, 2015 at 9:19 pm

    def wanna try some of these products on your list! been looking for a new sunscreen so hopefully it’ll go well for me during the summer

    • Reply
      Paula @
      December 17, 2015 at 11:54 am

      The main point that I made in this post is that you should use sunscreen all year long.. :)

      • Reply
        December 18, 2015 at 5:58 pm

        i get a bit lazy for that haha

  • Reply
    December 15, 2015 at 11:04 pm

    Thank you for this post, I’ve been trying to find products that would help fade some dark spots from previous break outs. I am probably going to try either one of the retinol products.

    Perfect Shade of Mauve

  • Reply
    December 16, 2015 at 1:09 am

    Such a good post! I’ve been forever trying different products but none of them have worked. I love using sunscreen but don’t use it as often (daily!) as I should! x


    • Reply
      Paula @
      December 17, 2015 at 11:57 am

      Definitely try to make it a habit to use sunscreen daily! You’ll thank yourself a couple of years down the road :)

  • Reply
    Cheryl Wooodman
    December 16, 2015 at 3:49 am

    Love this post! Niacinamide and Kojic acid (mushroom extract) are also great at treating hyper-pigmentation. They help to stop more from happening… exfoliation is a MUST for treating any that’s already there! Retinol is also an exfoliant, so you do have to be a bit careful about using Retinol with other exfoliants like BHA’s/AHA’s.

  • Reply
    Linda Libra Loca
    December 16, 2015 at 4:29 am

    I have the same issues as you have, and just like you said, once I started focussing on ingredients rather than claims, I started seeing results. The one thing I haven’t tried yet is Retinols, because I have been either pregnant or breastfeeding and wanted to play it safe, but I will in the future.

    My budget tip would be the Clearasil Daily Clear pads, which are really cheap, but contain a lot of salicylic acid. I love to use them when my skin is acting up (hormones…). They do contain alcohol though, so maybe they aren’t the best if your skin is very dry already.

    Libra, Loca: Beauty, Baby and Backpacking

    • Reply
      Paula @
      December 17, 2015 at 12:25 pm

      Yes, I almost never pay attention to the product claims anymore, they’re always way exaggerated! Oh I think I know which pads you’re referring to! I’m pretty sure I’ve used them in the past.

      • Reply
        Linda Libra Loca
        December 18, 2015 at 3:22 am

        They are quite strong, comparable to the Alpha-H Liquid Gold, which was what got me into chemical exfoliants back in the days, so not for sensitive skin.

  • Reply
    December 16, 2015 at 5:59 am

    I have had some leftover acne marks and pigmentation from a recent breakout and found that the Nip + Fab pads are a lifesaver. I use them every couple of days and have noticed a massive difference in my skin.

    Rachel |

  • Reply
    December 16, 2015 at 6:13 am

    I do suffer from dark spots/acne scars. I have a little sample of Dr. Dennis Gross’ and now I can’t wait to try it. Honestly, I find that the best thing that works is a mask that’s a mixture of honey, lemon and cinnamon. It’s not the most pleasant thing to wear but it does the job better than most.

    Nabihah | Enter my GIVEAWAY

    • Reply
      Paula @
      December 17, 2015 at 12:09 pm

      I wouldn’t put lemon on your face! The oils in lemons are phototoxic and they can cause photodermititis on your skin. Using lemon juice can actually make your dark spots much darker, even if they do temporarily lighten your skin.

  • Reply
    Dagmara Klich
    December 16, 2015 at 9:13 am

    I don’t really have acne scarring, although do have some post-breakout marks but I did have some hyperpigmentation due to pregnancies and sun damage and I swear by chemical exfoliants and products containing Vit C, they have improved significantly my skin’s appearance. Haven’t tried any products with retinol though. Will definitely keep check your recommendations :) x

    Mummy’s Beauty Corner

    • Reply
      Paula @
      December 17, 2015 at 12:14 pm

      Yes, Vitamin C products work really well for me. I love retinol too, definitely try a nice nighttime moisturizer with retinol, I’m sure you’d love it!

  • Reply
    Disa Chantel
    December 16, 2015 at 12:38 pm

    Just wanted to share that those St. Ives’s pads have been discontinued :(. I found them at my local Big Lots for $3.50/pack. Seems to be where all the discontinued beauty products go to live out their retirement.

  • Reply
    The Sunday Mode
    December 19, 2015 at 3:03 am

    I suffer from dark spots and they’re so frustrating sometimes, even when my skin is completely clear it’ll still look like I have spots because of the scars- very frustrating! Really like the sound of the Dr Dennis peel though, I only worry things like that may be too hard for my skin. At the same time, I really want to get rid of these dark spots!

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