|Editor's Choice||#2nd Best Choice||#3rd Best Choice|
#2nd Best Choice
#3rd Best Choice
Lightening creams offer the ideal solution to visibly lighten moles, birthmarks, sun spots, acne scars, and melasma. Choosing a lotion that works for your skin can be a challenge with so many different products on the market. Some even contain harmful chemicals that can cause adverse skin conditions and reactions.
To help you with your decision, we researched the best skin lightening creams available. Here, we take an in-depth look at these products and their ingredients. We focus on overall skin health to ensure lasting benefits, a radiant appearance, and faster results, no matter which product you choose.
Table of Contents
- 1 – Zeta White (Editor’s Choice)
- 2 – Meladerm
- 3 – Paula’s Choice
- 4 – Admire My Skin Brightening Serum
- 5 – Illuminatural 6i
- Best Skin Lightening Cream for Hyperpigmentation: The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%
- Best Skin Lightening Cream for Black & Dark Skin: Scientis Cyspera Cysteamine Cream
- Best Skin Lightening Cream for Melasma: SkinCeuticals Advanced Pigment Corrector
- Best Skin Lightening Cream for Dark Spots: Ambi Fade Cream
- Best Skin Lightening Cream for Acne Scars: Murad InvisiScar Resurfacing Treatment
- Buyer’s Guide
- Buy Your Skin Lightening Cream Today
1 – Zeta White (Editor’s Choice)
Zeta White is a popular skin whitening system from Helpful Cosmetics Limited. Its three products have a relatively mild, yet effective, allergen-free formula suitable for all skin types.
This 95% organic formulation contains no toxins or chemicals, and Helpful Cosmetics Limited did not perform animal testing in the development of these products.
If you are looking for a gentle alternative to harsh bleaching chemicals, Zeta White may work for you.
What Is It?
Zeta White ranks as one of the best skin lightening systems for its three products: face wash, night cream, and moisturizer.
Each component contains natural ingredients to lighten your skin tone and reduce the appearance of dark spots.
This combination creates a highly effective method for bleaching skin while providing optimal nourishment that gives your skin a healthy glow.
We talk more about this product in our Zeta White review.
The ingredients in these products that promote skin lightening include strawberry, lemon, and licorice extract.
Licorice extract contains glabidrin, which eliminates dark spots by inhibiting the production of tyrosinase.
This enzyme causes darker pigmentation when sunlight shines on your skin. Licorice extract is also a safer alternative to 2% hydroquinone, a chemical for bleaching the skin that can cause redness and dryness.
Other ingredients in Zeta White skin lightening creams include zinc oxide to prevent sun damage and vitamin C to prevent oxidative damage.
How it Works
The combination of skin whitening cream products works together to reduce tyrosinase and melanin production.
Melanin is the pigment that causes coloration and uneven skin tone. Zeta White also has a skincare component with anti-aging ingredients.
How to Use It
In the morning, use the face wash by massaging a small amount into your skin. Remember to rinse thoroughly before you apply the moisturizer.
Before you go to bed at night, wash your face again. When your skin is dry, apply the night cream on your entire face. You will start seeing results within three weeks.
2 – Meladerm
What Is It?
Meladerm is one of the most widely used skin lightening creams for minimizing the appearance of dark spots and promoting an even skin tone.
If you want a cruelty-free vegan cream that doesn’t contain harmful chemicals, Meladerm is one of your best options.
This product contains some of the best skin lightening ingredients, including kojic acid, alpha arbutin, and natural extracts such as bearberry, lemon, mulberry, Emblica fruit, and licorice fruit.
Meladerm also contains vitamin C to reduce pollution damage and hydrate the skin.
Vitamin B3 is an active skin brightening agent, especially in combination with kojic acid and arbutin.
Ingredients in this skincare product that bleach the skin include GigaWhite™, SymWhite™, and Sepiwhite™.
These ingredients work for all skin types, and they don’t contain hydroquinone, parabens, or sulfates that harm your skin.
Related: Meladerm review.
How it Works
The kojic acid in the whitening cream prevents the formation of tyrosine, which then inhibits melanin production, causing dark spots to fade.
The alpha-arbutin in this skincare product inhibits pigmentation, which gives you lighter skin.
This combination of kojic acid and alpha-arbutin ensures healthy bleaching for the skin while minimizing your risk of irritation and other side effects.
The macronutrients in this product have an anti-aging effect, and they help to reduce the appearance of discoloration, sun damage, dark spots, and even birthmarks.
The natural ingredients in Meladerm’s formula make it one of the best skin lightening creams available, as a gentler alternative to other skin bleaching products.
How to Use It
Apply an even layer of Meladerm skin bleaching cream twice per day after washing and drying your facial skin.
Stay out of direct sunlight and use this product in combination with a broad-spectrum sunblock of SPF 30 or higher to prevent sun damage.
Avoid contact with your eyes, and don’t use this product if you are pregnant or nursing.
3 – Paula’s Choice
What Is It?
The Dark Spot Eraser from Paula’s Choice is a skin lightening cream that reduces dark spots and exfoliates dead skin cells.
This product also hydrates and refines your skin’s surface to give it a healthy, youthful appearance.
The Dark Spot Eraser from Paula’s Choice has a unique formula for spots on your skin, fading them with skin brightening ingredients and nutrients for optimal skincare.
Glycolic acid, a water-soluble acid, and exfoliator, forms the heart of this cream, cleansing your skin while the lightening agents go to work.
This product also contains 2% hydroquinone, widely considered the best ingredient for hyperpigmentation.
Hydroquinone is an abrasive ingredient, and if you have sensitive skin, it may cause irritation.
However, this cream from Paula’s Choice offers the best skin lightening and fast results for other skin types.
Additional ingredients include vitamin E, salicylic acid, hydrogenated lecithin, and sodium hydroxide.
The antioxidants in the ingredients promote overall skin health through hydration, replenishment, and exfoliation.
How it Works
2% Hydroquinone prevents the skin from producing melanin, which forms dark spots in concentrated areas.
In combination with glycolic acid and kojic acid, this cream covers all bases, so you see results within eight to twelve weeks.
The antioxidants in the formula restore your skin tone and texture to give you a radiant appearance and smooth skin.
How to Use It
Apply a small amount of Paula’s Choice bleach for skin lightening over areas with discoloration. For best results, apply the product once per day after washing your face but before moisturizing.
This product is a fluid lotion, so your skin will absorb it quickly.
Because it contains hydroquinone, don’t use this product in combination with benzoyl peroxide to avoid irritating or staining your skin.
You should also protect your skin from the sun’s UV rays with a sunblock that has a rating of SPF 30 or higher.
4 – Admire My Skin Brightening Serum
What Is It?
The Admire My Skin brightening serum is a highly effective lightening cream that consists of skin lightening agents and minerals to rejuvenate your skin.
The Admire My Skin brightening serum formula contains 2% hydroquinone and some of the best skin lightening ingredients, including kojic acid.
The ingredients make this cream’s formula similar to that of our Paula’s Choice pick.
This serum also contains lactic acid, which contributes to reducing hyperpigmentation and delivering faster results.
This alpha-hydroxy acid has few drawbacks, but it can be harsh on your skin.
However, if you don’t have sensitive skin and want faster results, it offers the ideal option.
As an antioxidant, the vitamin C in this formula reduces wrinkles, promotes collagen production, and inhibits melanin formation in the skin to lighten dark spots.
Other ingredients include salicylic acid as an exfoliator and azelaic acid that kills acne-forming bacteria.
How it Works
Admire My Skin brightening serum blocks the discoloration process in your skin.
The active ingredient, hydroquinone, and kojic acid suppress melanin production, fading dark spots, and other conditions such as age spots, freckles, melasma, and acne scars.
You can also use this serum to treat other forms of hyperpigmentation, including post-inflammatory marks from eczema or psoriasis.
Salicylic acid helps your skin to shed the top layer of dead cells. This ingredient also alleviates some of the redness that hydroquinone may cause.
The Admire My Skin serum contains vitamin C, which protects your skin from UV exposure and evens out your skin tone.
How to Use It
Start by applying the cream to your face once every three days and increase the frequency of use over time.
After two weeks, you can start applying the cream once per day. Apply an SPF 30 sunblock to protect your skin against UV damage.
5 – Illuminatural 6i
What Is It?
Illuminatural 6i is one of the best skin lightening creams for people who have sensitive skin.
This cream lightens spots while promoting an even skin tone. It also contains brightening ingredients derived from vitamins, making it a safer alternative to hydroquinone products.
Illuminatural 6i has a unique formula that consists of six active ingredients, including 8% sodium lactate, a skin-lightening component.
This product also contains magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, which is a vitamin C derivative.
In combination with sodium lactate, this ingredient promotes hydroxyproline production and hydroxylysine, which binds collagen-producing molecules.
Other ingredients in this product include niacinamide, a form of vitamin B3, whitonyl, and alpha-arbutin. Ingredients like aloe barbadensis leaf juice and titanium dioxide also offer protection against sun damage.
How it Works
This product contains a range of lightening ingredients that work together to ensure fast results without causing skin irritation.
Like most other ingredients in lightening creams, sodium lactate inhibits tyrosinase production, which, in turn, blocks the production of melanin that causes dark spots.
Niacinamide reduces hyperpigmentation and can lighten your skin within a month. Like sodium lactate, whitonyl and alpha-arbutin reduce melanin production in concentrated areas.
Other ingredients such as dimethicone and aloe barbadensis leaf juice have skincare qualities that hydrate the skin, improve skin elasticity, and offer protection against pollutants.
How to Use It
Apply Illuminatural 6i twice per day in areas that you want to lighten and rub gently until your skin absorbs the cream. Ideally, you should apply the cream in the morning and before you go to bed.
You can apply makeup after application without reducing its effect.
You can expect to see results within 90 days. Wear sunblock with at least SPF 30 for the duration of use to prevent skin darkening.
Best Skin Lightening Cream for Hyperpigmentation: The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%
You’ve probably heard of hydroquinone – the super-effective lightening chemical that also comes with some harsh side effects. Well, before subjecting your skin to that, check out the Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% from The Ordinary first. Research shows that azelaic acid creams can often be even more effective than hydroquinone at fading hyperpigmentation, making this a must-have in your skincare routine .
Designed to be used once or twice a day (we would recommend twice, especially for severe hyperpigmentation), this is a lightweight, gel-like cream that should start to produce results in just a few weeks.
Best Skin Lightening Cream for Black & Dark Skin: Scientis Cyspera Cysteamine Cream
Some skin lightening creams can actually make hyperpigmentation worse on dark skin tones, which is why we had to feature the Scientis Cyspera Cysteamine Cream. Cysteamine is a novel ingredient that you won’t find in any other cream. It has been proven to offer comparable results to hydroquinone , although it does take a little longer to work – clinical studies show results after eight weeks of daily use, with both light skin and dark skin benefiting from the ingredient.
Unlike the other skin lightening products we’ve featured on this list, this cream isn’t one that you can leave on your skin. Instead, apply it, wait for 15 minutes, and then rinse it off. Don’t be tempted to leave it on for longer as this can lead to skin sensitivities.
Best Skin Lightening Cream for Melasma: SkinCeuticals Advanced Pigment Corrector
Melasma can be a tricky condition to treat, but the Advanced Pigment Corrector from SkinCeuticals will help to drastically speed this process along. Designed for all skin types, this cream contains a few intriguing ingredients, from 0.3% salicylic acid to exfoliate away discolored surface skin cells to 1% hydroxyphenoxy propionic acid, which is a non-toxic hydroquinone derivative that has powerful lightening qualities.
Clinical studies show that this lightweight cream is capable of lightening melasma in 12 weeks. If possible, use it twice daily, following up with sunscreen in the morning (UV rays will interfere with how effective this treatment is).
Best Skin Lightening Cream for Dark Spots: Ambi Fade Cream
Got a few stubborn dark spots that aren’t responding to any of the active ingredients we’ve already featured? If that’s the case, you need to give the Ambi Fade Cream a try. Designed for normal skin types, this formula contains 2% hydroquinone, which is the highest concentration allowed in an over-the-counter product.
This cream also contains vitamin E to soothe and moisturize, lactic acid to gently exfoliate, and sodium ascorbyl phosphate (aka a highly stable and effective form of vitamin C) for extra brightening effects. You should start to see improvements in your dark spots in just two weeks.
Best Skin Lightening Cream for Acne Scars: Murad InvisiScar Resurfacing Treatment
Acne scars are double trouble – not only do they leave you with areas of discoloration, but they can affect the texture of your skin too, meaning that the best product out there will be one that can treat both of these issues. This is where the Murad InvisiScar Resurfacing Treatment comes in – it has been proven to reduce the size, depth, and discoloration of acne scars in just eight weeks.
These results are down to its potent formula, which features salicylic acid, centella asiatica, and vitamins C and E. You’ll also find a few light-diffusing ingredients in this lightweight cream – these will instantly blur the appearance of your acne scars, making them temporarily less visible. Use this treatment regularly and those temporary effects will soon become permanent.
When shopping for one perfect product for you out of the best skin lightening creams, you can’t just consider its skin-lightening effects. You also need to maintain optimal skin health.
Abrasive products containing harsh chemicals may lighten dark spots but cause irritation, dryness, redness, and other harmful skin conditions.
By selecting a product with nourishing ingredients and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, your skin will look better than ever.
The products in this guide are safe to use, and many of our picks, such as the Illuminatural 6i and Zeta White brightening system, work well on sensitive skin.
The Healthiest Ingredients for Skin Lightening
The best skin lightening ingredients are completely free from mercury and rich in nutrients like vitamins and minerals.
Look for products containing vitamins A, C, and E. The healthiest skin brightening formulas include kojic acid, strawberry, lemon, and licorice extract, and vitamin C.
Hydroquinone is not inherently harmful, but it can be abrasive if you have sensitive skin. However, if you have a normal or oily skin type, you probably won’t see side effects like dryness or irritation.
The best skin lightening creams will contain ingredients such as titanium dioxide that protect your skin against damage from pollutants and the sun’s UV rays.
Getting Faster Results
The best skin lightening creams do not necessarily deliver the fastest results. However, they do inhibit melanin production in the long run while providing your skin with the nutrients it needs.
If you’re going to an event, like a wedding or a party, and want to brighten your skin and get rid of spots for the occasion, you may look for a cream that will make them disappearin the shortest time possible.
In these cases, select a cream containing hydroquinone or sodium lactate. Secondly, make lifestyle changes to promote skin health.
Thirdly, protect your skin from the sun, as UV rays can cause darkening, wrinkles, and even skin cancer. You can also check out our buyers guide on the best anti-aging creams.
Exercise and Follow a Healthy Diet
When you exercise, you improve blood circulation, which increases the delivery of nutrients and oxygen to the skin.
It also promotes collagen production, which will enhance your skin tone and give your facial skin a healthy appearance.
Your diet should include fruit and vegetables rich in antioxidants and nuts and fish to give your body healthy fats.
By increasing your intake of nutrients such as beta carotene, vitamins E and C, selenium, and zinc, you will promote skin health and optimize the effect of your skin lightening cream.
Drinking enough water will not directly result in lighter skin, but it will promote your skin cells’ optimal functioning.
If your cells do not get enough water, your skin becomes tight, dry, and flaky, which increases your risk of irritation and redness.
You can also hydrate your skin with a moisturizing agent. The best skin lightening creams contain vitamin C, which promotes skin hydration.
Get Enough Sleep
When you sleep, your cortisol levels drop, which helps your skin repair daytime damage.
Your body also produces collagen, a protein that increases blood flow to the skin to improve elasticity, reduce wrinkles, and give your face a healthy, radiant glow.
A healthy sleep schedule enables your skin to benefit more from your lightening cream, and you may even see faster results.
Exfoliation, or the removal of dead skin cells, should go hand-in-hand with your skin lightening treatment. Lightening creams containing glycolic acid or salicylic acid have inherent exfoliation qualities.
Exfoliation helps your lightening creams penetrate deeper into your skin and prevents acne. By exfoliating your skin, you also break down dry skin, giving it a smooth texture and uniform appearance.
Buy Your Skin Lightening Cream Today
Lightening blemishes such as acne scars, freckles, sun damage, and marks from psoriasis can go a long way to give your facial skin a healthy appearance.
With the creams in this review guide, you can lighten your skin in record time and with minimal effort while avoiding expensive treatments.
Select a skin lightening cream from our list and start seeing skin that makes you feel confident and look radiant within a few weeks.