There are few things worse than unexpected (and always unwelcome) breakouts to mar otherwise well preserved skin. Unfortunately, blemishes of all shapes and sizes often leave behind an autograph to commemorate their presence. These markers (a few shades darker than your skin tone) are pigmentation and it can be a tricky and time-consuming process to fade them. With winter on its merry way, now is the time to take action. To save you the angst, Canberra-based Beauticater Katherine Ring worked her way through a variety of treatments and look for signs of improvement. Here’s an edit of the best products that showed the most promise.
Best For: Serum Saluters
“This serum promises to address more than just acne marks; it includes blotchiness, dark spots, pores, redness and rough texture among its list of targeted imperfections. The product is thin and milky in texture and sinks rapidly into my skin. I notice quickly the inclusion of Niacinamide as one of the first listed ingredients and am encouraged: this is a compound of Vitamin B3, designed to soothe irritated and inflamed skin. The serum is gentle and calming on my skin, despite the potent salicylic acid component; a beta-hydroxy acid well suited to my blemish prone skin. I use it morning and evening over the next few days and I’ve noticed my skin is clearer - a couple of blemish-marks are already beginning to fade.”
Best For: Luxe Lovers
“I’ve heard that by all accounts this product is the champion of crystal clear skin, with their patented Pitera compound cited as a miracle treatment for uneven skin-tone. With its claims to only reduce the appearance of existing spots, but also prevent melanin production at its source, I can’t wait to dive right in – face first, of course. The serum is thicker in texture than most I’ve tried before, and I need to apply in larger quantities than I would have anticipated (two full pipettes)! It feels cooling and luxurious as I apply it to my skin, and I notice no tingling or discomfort, only the familiar SK-II fragrance. Within a week my skin not only feels plumper, but my skin-tone is noticeably more even than before.”
Best For: Targeted Application
“This corrector was one of the first products I had heard about that could target pigmentation, so I’m very excited to give it a try. A bit of investigating showed me it had a few reformulations even since then, so my hopes are rather high for this one. This serum also uses salicylic acid as its chemical exfoliant of choice, which serves to prevent blemishes in the first place. It feels much like a primer in texture: thick and silky smooth, and I experience no irritation upon application. I apply this product morning and night over the next week and there is minimal, but noticeable, reduction in dark spots. This is a great option for anyone with sensitive skin who is prepared to wait a little longer to see dramatic results.”
Best For: Stubborn Spots
“This one packs an olfactory punch when I open the packaging; it’s clear from the potent smell that there’s a fairly concentrated hydroxy-acid component to this treatment. In addition I notice the presence of Ascorbic Acid, a pro-vitamin of Vitamin C for an added bonus of anti-ageing collagen, as well as a go-to ingredient for fading discolouration and promoting brighter skin-tone. I apply, and it does tingle a little a bit, and stings in the flaky skin around my mouth. However, the results are undeniable. I use the product for just a few nights (the recommended twice daily felt too much for my sensitive skin), a particularly stubborn mark fades noticeably and my skin feels smoother.”
Best For: Peel Purveyors
“This product has been on my radar for a number of years now. Its two-step peel process looks perfect for first-time peel users, and for sensitive skin - that’s me! The product contains a blend of both alpha-hydroxy and beta-hydroxy acids, the former to refine the skin texture, and the latter to clarify and prevent excess sebum production. It aims to address not only uneven skin texture, but also enlarged pores and fine lines. The product consists of two product-drenched pads, which I swipe liberally over my skin after cleansing and toning. This process is surprisingly gentle considering the cocktail of acids present in the ingredients list, and when I wake up the next morning my skin feels noticeably smoother. I use more regularly over the next few days and dark spots have noticeably faded.”
Best For: Dual-Action Results
“This mask is the most pleasantly fragranced of all in the edit. It smells sugary sweet, and I notice quickly the inclusion of licorice extract - an ingredient I know to interrupt the stimulation of the enzyme that activates melanin production in the skin. The base of the mask’s ingredients is Kaolin clay, designed to draw excess sebum from the pores, and features Kojic acid to assist in whitening hyper pigmentation. The mask takes approximately 10 minutes to dry and tighten on my skin, and I rinse off with tepid water. It is very gentle and the clay has a soothing, clarifying effect almost immediately. While I haven’t yet notice much reduction in pigmentation after just a few uses over the course of the recommended week, my skin certainly feels clearer and cleaner after each application.”
Best For: An Added Afterglow
“The single use face mask makes me nervous even before opening. The phrase “Not Suitable for Sensitive Skin” is written in clear letters on the front of the sachet; a foreboding emblem for any sensitive-skinned would-be masker like myself. By contrast, though, the ingredients list featured Niacinamide, Chamomile, Aloe Vera, and a relatively small dose of Salicylic Acid. I apply with caution but am relieved to find this mask soothing, cooling (a by-product of a quick stint in the fridge prior to application), and, like most cloth masks, forcibly relaxing. My skin feels plump (thanks to the Hyaluronic Acid), and bright after 20 minutes. The following morning my existing dark spots are considerably less noticeable.”
*Note: after using any or all of these products, PLEASE apply a good SPF (30+ or higher) to protect your freshly exfoliated skin.
Review by Katherine Ring.