How to Get Rid of Dark Spots

Dark spots on your face can be caused by sunburns, acne scarring,  age spots, or even using birth control pills. If you have them, you have probably wondered how to get rid of them. The steps below will help you learn how to get rid of dark spots and clear up your skin.

Home Remedies for Dark Spots

Try Vitamin E. A powerful antioxidant, Vitamin E helps repair damaged cells and strengthen new ones. You can use Vitamin E as a topical treatment alone, or boost its benefits by also eating foods high in Vitamin E.

  • Topical application – Massage pure Vitamin E oil directly onto your dark spots. With daily application, your spots will fade.
  • Dietary sources – Add these foods to your diet to get even more Vitamin E power: nuts (almonds, peanuts, pine nuts), sunflower seeds, wheat germ oil, and dried apricots.

Look to citrus fruits. Citrus fruits contain abundant amounts of Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid. Vitamin C helps slough off the top layer of skin without causing damage. Here are some ways to use it.

  • Squeeze some juice – Women have used straight lemon juice to lighten their skin for centuries, but you can use an orange, grapefruit or lime if you prefer. Slice the fruit in half and squeeze the juice into a cup or bowl. Using a cotton ball, dab it onto your dark spots. Leave it on for 20 minutes, then rinse off. Repeat once or twice a day.
  • Lemon and honey face mask – Combine the juice of half a lemon with 2 tsp of honey. Mix well, and apply to your face. Leave it on for 30 minutes, then rinse well.
  • Citrus and powdered milk scrub – Combine 1 tsp each of water, powdered milk and the juice of your favorite citrus fruit. Mix into a soft paste and massage into your skin. Rinse well.

Reach for aloe vera. The aloe vera plant has many health benefits. It’s an excellent moisturizer, and is effective for healing sunburns. It can also help fade dark spots. If you have an aloe plant at home, break off a small piece, squeeze the pulp into your hand and apply it directly to your dark spots. You can also find aloe gel in stores. Pure aloe vera will work best, so make sure you’re purchasing a 100% aloe vera product.

Slice up a papaya. Papaya fruit contains the enzyme papain. Papain helps exfoliate the skin, making way for new skin cells to emerge. Papaya also contains Vitamin C and Vitamin E, so it’s a dark spot fading superstar. Papain is most concentrated while the papaya is still green, but you can use riper fruit as well. Peel and remove the seeds from a papaya, and try one of the following.

  • Whole fruit – Slice a piece off of the papaya, and lay or hold it on the dark spots that you want to get rid of. Hold it there for 20-30 minutes. Repeat twice a day for best results.
  • Papaya facial mask – Cut the papaya into chunks. Use a blender or food processor to blend the fruit into a smooth paste. Apply the mask to your face and neck. Leave it on for about 30 minutes, then rinse well.

Pharmaceutical Methods for Dark Spots

Understand the method. Exfoliation is the process of removing the top layer of skin, bringing new skin to the surface. Exfoliation can either be done chemically or manually. Many natural methods exfoliate; however, medical and pharmaceutical methods are stronger and more aggressive. They also often show results faster.

Consider a chemical peel. If surface treatments don’t sufficiently fade your dark spots, you might consider a chemical peel. Chemical peels literally remove the top layers of your skin. They often contain the acids describe above in high concentrations. They are classified by three levels of strength: light, medium and deep.

  • Light chemical peels usually include alpha-hydroxy acids. Glycolic acid and lactic acid are common ingredients. They’re considered the most effective peels for dark spots.
  • Medium chemical peels include TCA, or trichloroacetic acid. Many recommend this peel for dark spots due to sun damage. For best results, it is usually repeated every two weeks until the spots have sufficiently faded. These peels are generally not recommended for people with darker complexions as they can cause hyperpigmentation after the skin has healed.
  • Deep chemical peels contain phenol, or carbolic acid, as their active ingredient. They are often used for deep wrinkles, but also for correcting severe sun damage. Phenol peels are very strong, and are administered under anesthesia. It may take several months for results to show as the skin heals.

Try an acid treatment. There are two types of acids most commonly found in acne and dark spot treatment products: alpha-hydroxy acids and beta-hydroxy acid.

  • Alpha-hydroxy acids include glycolic acid, mandelic acid, citric acid, lactic acid and others. These acids are often derived from produce and other food products. They exfoliate the skin effectively, but are gentle enough for people with sensitive skin. Alpha-hydroxy acids can be found in serums, creams, moisturizers and peels.
  • Beta-hydroxy acid is also known as salicylic acid. It’s a common ingredient in over-the-counter acne medications and skin treatments. (It’s also a key ingredient in aspirin.) In stronger concentrations, it’s also effective at helping dark spots fade. Salicylic acid can be applied in a cream, serum, cleanser or peel.
  • Retinoic acid is also known as tretinoin, or Retin-A. Retinoic acid is a form of Vitamin A. It’s a very effective treatment for acne and dark spots. It is available in creams and gels, only by prescription in the United States.

Look for laser treatment. Laser treatment uses quick pulses of light to destroy dark-spot causing melanin. The pigmented areas absorb the light and shatter or vaporize. Your body heals the spot by forming a scab and growing new, fresh, unpigmented skin in its place. Laser treatment is highly effective, but expensive, and can be painful.

Try microdermabrasion. Microdermabrasion is a procedure that uses very fine crystals to “sandblast” the dark spots off your skin. A new, fresh layer of skin grows in place of the skin that was removed. Treatments are usually done once a month over several months.


  • Make sure to use plenty of sunscreen when using any type of skin lightening product.
  • Hydroquinone, a known skin lightening product, has been linked to cancer, pigment cell damage, dermatitis and other skin problems. Most skin care specialists do not recommend its use unless all other options do not show results.
  • If you are allergic to aspirin, do not use products containing salicylic acid.
  • Always follow package directions when using home treatments for dark spot removal.
  • Pregnant or nursing women should not use salicylic acid.
  • If you have a doctor or esthetician, perform dark spot treatment. Follow their post-treatment instructions very carefully.
  • Don’t go out in the sun with citrus juice on your face, as this can cause it to burn.


  • Be patient. Dark spots can often be very stubborn, and can take time to fade. Be persistent and consistent with the treatment method you choose.
  • When you’re dehydrated, skin cell turnover slows. Drink plenty of water to give your dark spot treatment a little extra boost.



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